Life of ‘Tragedy King’: How A Boy From Pakistan Became Star Of The 20th Century?

by Shatakshi Gupta

Bollywood’s veteran actor Dilip Kumar aka ‘Tragedy King’ said goodbye to the world on Wednesday at the age of 98. He was suffering from prolonged illness. Prime Minister Modi too mourned the loss of the greatest of all actors in India. His family friend announced his death on the social platform Wednesday morning.

His early life:

Mohammed Yusuf (Dilip Kumar) was born to Ayesha Begum and Lala Ghulam Sarwar Khan in 1922 at Qissa Khawani Bazar area of Peshawar. Yusuf’s father was a landlord and a fruit merchant.

Yusuf did his schooling from Nashik. His neighbour and childhood friend was the one and only Raj Kapoor.He had an altercation with his father in his teenage and left for Pune. Knowing English, he got a job as an assistant in the British Army canteen in Pune. Dilip Kumar used to get Rs 36 as wages in the canteen. His career started when he met actress Devika Rani, owner of Bombay Talkies and Ashok Kumar who later influenced his acting style. 

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Ruled hearts of millions with exceptional acting:

With his impeccable acting skills, he became the heartbeat of millions of youth in the first two decades of independent India. Moreover, Kumar presented many social issues on the screen of black and white cinema through acting.

 Dilip Sahab was also called an all-rounder actor. Satyajit Ray called him the best Method actor. At the age of 25, he had established himself as the top actor in the country. With the arrival of Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand, the famous trinity of ‘Dilip-Raj-Dev’ ruled the hearts of the people for decades.

His success story:

Dilip Kumar is a gift from the prestigious film production organization Bombay Talkies, where Devika Rani gave him the work break. It was here that he became Dilip Kumar from Yusuf Sarwar Khan and it was here that he learned the nuances of acting.

In 1947, he worked in ‘Jugnu’.  The success of this film made Dilip Kumar a star overnight. After this, he worked in many blockbuster films like ‘Shaheed’, ‘Andaz’, ‘Daag’, ‘Deedar’, ‘Madhumati’, ‘Devdas’, ‘Musafir’, ‘Naya Daur’, ‘Aan’, ‘Azad’. 

Other facets of his life:

Whenever Kumar got time during the shooting, he used to play cricket. Besides, sharing his old memories through social media was also one of his favourite pastimes.

Till he married actress Saira Banu at the age of 44, Dilip Kumar had done many such films, for which he is remembered today. Kumar never redeemed his reputation and popularity to earn money. It was a well-established fact in the industry that he never ran for the money. He also rejected an oscar-winning Hollywood film once.

 The love story of Saira Banu and Dilip Kumar culminated in marriage, but their dream of becoming parents remained incomplete. Kumar shared the reason behind this in his autobiography ‘The Substance and the Shadow’.

From Padma Bhushan to Dadasaheb Phalke, this megastar worked in about 60 films in his career. The veteran actor was conferred with Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in 1991 for his performance. At the same time, he has also received the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1995. Not only this, but the Government of Pakistan also awarded him ‘Nishan-e-Imtiaz’ in 1997, which is Pakistan’s highest civilian honour.