Mohammed Yusuf Khan better known by his stage name Dilip Kumar, was an Indian actor who worked in Hindi cinema. Credited with pioneering method acting in cinema, he dominated the Indian movie scene from late 1940s throughout 1960s, being referred to as “Abhinay Samrat” (Hindi for “Emperor of Acting”) by the audience. Kumar holds the record for most wins for the Filmfare Award for Best Actor (eight, which was later equalled by Shah Rukh Khan) and was also the inaugural recipient of the award. He holds the best box-office record for a star (male or female) in Hindi cinema with over eighty-percent box-office successes.
In a career spanning over five decades, Kumar worked in less than 60 films in a variety of roles. He debuted as an actor in the film Jwar Bhata (1944), produced by Bombay Talkies. Following a series of unsuccessful ventures, he had his first box office hit in Jugnu (1947). Kumar found further success with the romantic Andaz (1949), the swashbuckling Aan (1952), the social drama Daag (1952), the dramatic Devdas (1955), the comical Azaad (1955), the romantic social Naya Daur (1957), the noir mystery Madhumati (1958), the comedy-drama Paigham (1959) the epic historical Mughal-E-Azam (1960), the social dacoit crime drama Gunga Jumna (1961), and the comedy drama Ram Aur Shyam (1967). All three Andaz, Aan and Naya Daur briefly became the highest-grossing Indian film up to that point, a feat later achieved by Mughal-e-Azam, which sustained the record for 15 years. As of 2021, the latter remains the highest-grossing Indian film when adjusted for inflation.
The 1970s saw Kumar’s career take a downturn, marked by three consecutive commercial underperformers, namely Dastaan (1972), Sagina (1974) and Bairaag (1976). Post 1976, he went on a four-year hiatus from film performances and returned with the revolutionary drama Kranti, which was the highest-grossing Indian film of the year. He continued to play leading roles in films such as Shakti (1982), Karma (1986), and Saudagar (1991). His last on-screen appearance was in the commercially unsuccessful Qila (1998), which saw him in a dual role. Kumar later served as a member of the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of India’s parliament, from 2000 to 2006.
Kumar’s personal life was the subject of much media attention, however, he himself had largely avoided media limelight and endorsements. He was in a long-term relationship with actress and frequent co-star Madhubala that ended after the Naya Daur court case in 1957. He married actress Saira Banu in 1966 and resided in Bandra, a suburb of Mumbai, until his death in 2021. For his contributions to film, the Government of India awarded him with the Padma Bhushan in 1991 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2015, the country’s third and second-highest civilian awards respectively. He was also awarded India’s highest accolade in the field of cinema, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1994. In 1998, the Government of Pakistan conferred Kumar with Nishan-e-Imtiaz, their highest civilian decoration, making him the only Indian to have received the honour. The house that Kumar grew up in, located in Peshawar, was declared a national heritage monument in 2014 by the Pakistani government.
Dilip Kumar was born as Mohammad Yusuf Khan on 11 December 1922, into a Hindko-speaking Awan Muslim family at his family home in the Qissa Khawani Bazaar neighbourhood of Peshawar, a city in the North-West Frontier Province of British India. He was one of the twelve children of Lala Ghulam Sarwar Khan and his wife Ayesha Begum. His father was a fruit merchant.
Khan was schooled at the Barnes School in Deolali (now in Maharashtra), where his father owned orchards. He grew up in the same neighbourhood in Peshawar as Raj Kapoor, his childhood friend, and later his colleague in the film industry. In 1940, he moved to Pune and set up a dry fruit supply shop and a canteen. Despite hailing from Peshawar, Khan’s family decided to remain in Bombay following the partition of the India in 1947.
Khan never acted under his birth name, debuting in Jwar Bhata in 1944 under the stage name Dilip Kumar. In his autobiography, Dilip Kumar: The Substance and the Shadow, he wrote that the name was a suggestion from Devika Rani, who was one of the producers on Jwar Bhata. In an interview in 1970, he said that he adopted this name out of fear of his father, who never approved of his acting career because of the general poor image of cinema back then.
Kumar and Madhubala were drawn to each other during the shooting of Tarana (1951). They remained in a relationship for seven years until the Naya Daur court case, during which Kumar testified against Madhubala and her father, ending their relationship.They never worked together again after Mughal-e-Azam (1960). Kumar later expressed in his autobiography, “Was I in love with Madhubala as the newspapers and magazines reported at that time? As an answer to this oft-repeated question straight from the horse’s mouth, I
must admit that I was attracted to her both as a fine co-star and as a person who had some of the attributes I hoped to find in a woman at that age and time…She, as I said earlier, was very sprightly and vivacious and, as such, she could draw me out of my shyness and reticence effortlessly.” However, Kumar shared in his biography that contrary to popular notion, Madhubala’s father Ataullah Khan wasn’t opposed to their match but instead, wanted to turn this marriage into a business venture which did not land well with him. In the late 1950s, Vyjayanthimala was linked by gossip magazines to Kumar, who has acted with her the most compared to any other actress, which resulted in great on-screen chemistry between them. While working for his home production Gunga Jumna (1961), Kumar reportedly handpicked the shade of sari that Vyjayanthimala would wear in every scene.
Kumar with his wife Saira Banu in 2007
In 1966, Kumar married actress Saira Banu, who was 22 years younger than him. He later married Hyderabad socialite Asma Sahiba, taking her as a second wife in 1981. That marriage ended in January 1983. Banu and he lived in Bandra. They did not have any children. In his autobiography, Dilip Kumar: The Substance and the Shadow, he revealed that Banu had conceived in 1972, but developed complications in the pregnancy, leading to the child’s death. Following this, they did not try to have children again, believing it to be God’s will.
Kumar was fluent in his native Hindko as well as Urdu, Hindi, Pashto, Punjabi, Marathi, English, Bengali, Gujarati, Persian, and the Bhojpuri and Awadhi dialects. He was also a great music enthusiast and also learnt how to play the sitar for a film. He loved cricket and played it often. He led a cricket team against Raj Kapoor in a friendly cricket match held for charity. Both growing up in Peshawar and in Bombay, Dilip Kumar and his family had a close relationship with the Kapoor family.
His younger brother Nasir Khan (1924–1974) was also a noted film actor. Two of his younger brothers died after testing positive for COVID-19 in 2020.
Dilip Kumar died at Hinduja Hospital, Mumbai, on 7 July 2021 at 7:30 am, aged 98 He died after a prolonged illness. He had been suffering from several age-related issues and was diagnosed with pleural effusion. The Government of Maharashtra approved his burial with state honours under COVID-19 restrictions at the Juhu Muslim Cemetery that same day.
Expressing their condolences, Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated in a tweet that Kumar would be remembered as a cinematic legend, while the President, Ram Nath Kovind, stated that “he was loved across the subcontinent”. The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, also expressed condolences for his death and remembered his efforts in raising funds for the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital in a tweet. The former President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, and the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, also expressed condolences to Kumar and his family.
Dilip Kumar Height Weight Age Body Statistics Biography
Some Known Facts About Dilip Kumar
- Did Dilip Kumar smoke?: YesDilip Kumar smoking
- He was born into a Hindko-speaking Awan family in the Qissa Khawani Bazaar area of Peshawar, Pakistan.Dilip Kumar’s childhood photo
- His father was a landlord and fruit merchant and also owned orchards in Deolali (in Maharashtra, India) and Peshawar (in Pakistan). In the late 1930s, his family moved to Bombay (now Mumbai) from Peshawar, Pakistan. In Bombay, Dilip Kumar was the neighbour of the legendary Indian actor Raj Kapoor. In an interview, he was asked how much did he miss Peshawar? He replied,
I remember a lot. With age, this trend has increased even more. I miss my grandmother. Reminds me of childhood. I miss playing my football.”
- In 1940, when Dilip Kumar was a teenager, he left his home and moved to Pune, Maharashtra, after an altercation with his father. There, he started a dry fruit shop and a sandwich stall at an army club in Pune, Maharashtra.
- After almost three years, the legendary Indian actress Devika Rani and her husband Himanshu Rai spotted Dilip Kumar in a military canteen. They liked him and offered him the lead role in the Hindi film ‘Jwar Bhata’ (1944). In an interview, he shared how he developed an interest in acting. He said,
Yes, I used to watch movies, but they used to be English films. When I got a chance to work in Hindi films, I had seen only a few Hindi films. In those days I was crazy about English films. He used to watch these films hiding from his family members. Later he came to know about this. He was also worried about my passion for films. When I decided to become an actor in Hindi films, I was worried how to do something I don’t know. But then Devika Rani of Bombay Talkies told me that just as you are learning to sell fruits, you will also learn acting.”
- Before making his debut in the Hindi films, at the suggestion of Devika, he changed his name from Mohammed Yusuf Khan to Dilip Kumar. During an interview, Dilip Kumar shared why he had changed his name. He said,
Haqeeqat bataun? Pitayi ke darr se maine yeh naam rakha (Should I tell you honestly? It was because I was scared of beatings that I used this name).”
- His debut film failed at the box office, and after almost three years, he tasted success with the Hindi film ‘Jugnu’ (1947) opposite Noor Jehan.Dilip Kumar in Jugnu
- Later, Devika Rani offered him a job as a scriptwriter in Bombay Talkies (film studio) as he was proficient in Urdu for which he received Rs. 1,250 per month.
- In 1948, he appeared in two super-hit Hindi films ‘Shaheed’ and ‘Mela.’ A year later, he appeared in the Hindi film ‘Andaz’ (1949) along with the superstars of that time Raj Kapoor and Nargis.Raj Kapoor, Nargis, and Dilip Kumar on the sets of Andaz
- In the 1950s, he appeared in many super-hit Hindi films like ‘Jogan’ (1950), ‘Babul’ (1950), ‘Hulchul’ (1951), ‘Shikast’ (1953), and ‘Uran Khatola’ (1955).
- In the 1950s, he became the first Indian actor to charge Rs. 1 lakh per film.
- In the same era, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru invited Kumar to address a conference of the Indian Youth Congress.Dilip Kumar with Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru
- In 1955, he played the iconic role of Devdas in the Hindi period-drama film ‘Devdas.’ The role of Paro was played by Suchitra Sen, and Vyjayanthimala played the character of Chandramukhi. In 2002, the remake of the film was made with the same name starring the famous Indian actors like Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai, and Madhuri Dixit.
- Dilip Kumar in Devdas
- After portraying tragic characters in many films, he started remaining sad and depressed in his real life too. Then, his doctor suggested him to do some light-hearted roles in the films. During an interview, Dilip Kumar talked about it, he said,
I had been playing characters who were ill-fated and a morbid outlook had seized me as a result of my extreme involvement and my living the character beyond the working hour.”
- His first technicolour film was ‘Aan’ (1952) which was released worldwide and premiered in London.
- In 1953, he became the first Indian actor to win the Filmfare Best Actor Award for his role in the Hindi film ‘Daag’ (1952) and went on to win it 7 times in his career. Dilip Kumar with his Filmfare Award
- In 1951, while shooting for the Hindi film ‘Tarana’ Dilip Kumar fell in love with his co-star Madhubala. After a courtship of almost seven years followed by an engagement, troubles started arising in their relationship due to the court case of the Hindi film ‘Naya Daur’ in 1957. Their last film together was the epic Hindi film ‘Mughal-e-Azam’ (1960). In an interview, while talking about Madhubala, he said,
I must admit that I was attracted to her (Madhubala) both as a fine co-star and as a person who had some of the attributes I hoped to find in a woman at that age and time…She, as I said earlier, was very sprightly and vivacious and, as such, she could draw me out of my shyness and reticence effortlessly.”
- Dilip Kumar’s first anti-hero role was in Mehboob Khan’s Hindi film ‘Amar’ (1954).Dilip Kumar in Amar (1954)
- Kumar portrayed the role of Prince Salim in K. Asif’s epic historical film ‘Mughal-e-Azam’ (1960). The film remained the 2nd highest-grossing film till 2008 in the history of Hindi films. The film was shot in black & white, and some scenes of the film were shot in colour. In 2004, after almost 44 years of its original release, the film was fully colourised and was re-released in theatres.