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Dilip Kumar@93: How He Conquered Bollywood

December 11, 2015 09:01
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    Dilip Kumar, the grand old man of Bollywood, is 93 today. This year, the iconic actor has cancelled his birthday celebrations in light of the recent plight of Chennai, which has been savaged by incessant rains over the past few weeks. On Twitter he wrote: "I have decided to forego all celebrations on my birthday as I am saddened by the tragedy that has swept the lives of so many in Chennai."

    Meanwhile, here a look at the journey of the legendary actor's personal and professional life as he turns a year older.

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    Young Yusuf used to assist his father, a fruit merchant who owned orchards in Peshawar and Maharashtra's Deolali region. The family moved to Mumbai in the 1930s and in 1940, Yusuf left home, moving to Pune where he ran a canteen. He was spotted in the canteen by actress Devika Rani and her director-husband Himanshu Rai, owners of Bombay Talkies studio. Yusuf, re-christened Dilip Kumar by author and screenwriter Bhagwati Charan Verma, was cast as the male lead in Bombay Talkies' Jwar Bhata (1944).

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    Jwar Bhata went unnoticed but Dilip Kumar struck gold with 1947's Jugnu, opposite singer-actress Noor Jahan.

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    Dilip saab's performance in Andaz (1949), opposite the equally legendary Raj Kapoor, earned him critical acclaim as well as box-office success. With Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand, he formed one-third of the trinity that ruled Indian cinema, just emerging from the shadow of British rule, for two decades.

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    Dilip saab's performance in Andaz (1949), opposite the equally legendary Raj Kapoor, earned him critical acclaim as well as box-office success. With Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand, he formed one-third of the trinity that ruled Indian cinema, just emerging from the shadow of British rule, for two decades.

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    His next film Jogan (1950) with Nargis was a major hit at the box office. According to reports, the movie became the fourth highest earning film of 1950.

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    Dilip saab worked opposite actress Nimmi in Daag (1952). He won the first ever Filmfare Best Actor Award given out for his performance.

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    He romanced then newcomer Nadira in Aan. According to reports, Aan was the highest grosser of 1952 and was the first film to gross over Rs 15 million, a record that was to be broken by the Shree 420 starring Raj Kapoor and Nargis.

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    Dilip Kumar's Azaad in 1955 was the top grossing Hindi film in the year of its release, and he bagged his second Filmfare Best Actor Award.

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    Bimal Roy's classic Devdas in 1955 saw Dilip Kumar cast opposite Vyjayanthimala and Bengali actress Suchitra Sen. Based on Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's novel of the same name, Devdas was a huge success and fetched Dilip saab his third Filmfare award.

    Shah Rukh Khan, who played Devdas in 2002 and has often been compared to the older actor, said his film was "a tribute to Dilip saab".

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    He was seen opposite Vyjayanthimala yet again in Naya Daur (1957), which was originally filmed in black and white.

    The film was colorized and re-released on August 3, 2007. Dilip saab's performance in Naya Daur is considered one of his finest. Filmfare agreed, and handed him another award.

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    He acted opposite Meena Kumari in Musafir and Yahudi (1958).

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    Dilip Kumar was next seen in Bimal Roy's Madhumati (1958) which dealt with the subject of reincarnation. One of his most commercially successful films, Madhumati provided the inspiration for Shah Rukh Khan's Om Shanti Om.

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    By now, Dilip Kumar was known as the Tragedy King and the series of emotion-laden performances led him into depression. On the advice of his psychiatrist, he turned to lighter roles, which included Kohinoor (1960) with Meena Kumari, another Filmfare-winning performance.

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    Among his most famous screen outings was Prince Salim in K Asif's epic Mughal-e-Azam opposite Madhubala, who was rumoured to be his real-life romance as well.

    The doomed Dilip Kumar-Madhubala love story has been the subject of much speculation and was even turned into a semi-fictionalized TV documentary recently. Legend has it that Madhubala's formidable father Ataullah Khan's opposition ultimately tore the couple apart.

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    In 1961, Dilip Kumar produced and starred in Ganga Jamuna opposite Vyjayanthimala and Helen.

    Two years later came the popular Leader with music scored by Naushad. Leader brought Dilip Kumar yet another Filmfare award.

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    In 1966, Dilip Kumar tried his hand at direction with Dil Diya Dard Liya, the Hindi adaptation of Emily Bronte's classic novel, Wuthering Heights. The film was co-directed by A R Kardar.

    Dilip Kumar played the lead role in the movie, which also featured Waheeda Rehman, Pran, Rehman, Shyama and Johnny Walker.

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    Dilip Kumar's first double role was in Ram Aur Shyam (1967). The movie inspired multiple remakes in Bollywood such as Seeta Aur Geeta starring Hema Malini (1972), Chaalbaaz (starring Sridevi) in 1989 and Kishen Kanhaiya (starring Anil Kapoor) in 1990. And yes, there was a Filmfare award waiting for Dilip saab.

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    In the 1968 film Aadmi, Dilip Kumar played a character with negative shades, opposite Waheeda Rahman and Manoj Kumar. His next was a light-hearted comedy, Gopi, opposite wife Saira Banu.

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    Dilip Kumar played a triple role in Bairaag in 1976 with actress Leena Chandravarkar.

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    He took a break from 1976 to 1981 and made a comeback playing a freedom fighter in Kranti, in which he was reunited with his Aadmi co-star Manoj Kumar.

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    Over the next few years, Dilip Kumar formed a successful partnership with director Subhash Ghai resulting in three hit films - Vidhaata (1982), Karma (1986) and Saudagar (1991).

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    In 1982, two Bollywood giants appeared in their first (and only) film together. Ramesh Sippy's Shakti cast Dilip Kumar as the honest cop and Amitabh Bachchan as his estranged son. The film fetched Dilip saab his eighth and last Filmfare award.

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    In 1984, Dilip Kumar appeared in his only Yash Chopra film Mashaal. The movie was based on the well-known Marathi play Ashroonchi Zhali Phule written by famous Marathi writer Vasant Kanetkar.

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    He was then seen playing the role of Dada Thakur in Subhash Ghai's Karma (1986). The legendary actor was for the first time paired with veteran actress Nutan. The film also had Anupam Kher, Anil Kapoor, Jackie Shroff and Naseerudin Shah in prominent roles.

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    In 1991, Dilip Kumar made another celluloid appearance with veteran actor Raaj Kumar, 32 years after they appeared in Paigham in 1959. Saudagar was directed by Subhash Ghai and marked the Bollywood debut of actress Manisha Koirala.

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    In 1998, Dilip saab appeared in his last film, the flop Qila, opposite Rekha.

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    Dilip Kumar married actress Saira Banu in 1966, when he was 44 and she was 22. They were to co-star in films like Gopi, Sagina and Bairaag.

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    Dilip Kumar was a member of the Rajya Sabha from 2000 to 2006. He is actively involved in charity work.

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    Dilip Kumar was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1991, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1994 and the Nishan-e-Pakistan (Pakistan's highest civilian award) in 1998, an award that Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray asked him to return. He refused, saying at the time: "This award was given to me for the humane activities to which I have dedicated myself. I have worked for the poor; I have worked for many years to bridge the cultural and communal gaps between India and Pakistan. Politics and religion have created these boundaries.'

    He received Filmfare's Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993.

    He also held the honorary position of Sheriff of Mumbai in 1980.

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    In April 2013, Dilip saab and fellow superstars Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan appeared together on the cover of Filmfare magazine to mark 100 years of Indian cinema.

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    Dilip Kumar's biography The Substance And The Shadow was launched at a star-studded event in Mumbai last year.

    We wish Dilip saab a very happy birthday and a great year ahead.

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