“Suhana safar aur ye mausam hasin…” The journey of life has come to an end for the legendary actor, Dilip Kumar. He was 98 and passed away after the dawn of July 7, 2021.
His Twitter account read, “With a heavy heart and profound grief, I announce the passing away of our beloved Dilip Saab, few minutes ago. We are from God and to Him we return. – Faisal Farooqui”
Dilip Kumar, lovingly called Dilip Saab, was born Mohammed Yousuf Khan on December 11, 1922, in Peshawar, British India. His social media bio reads, “Actor. Artist. Producer. Student of Life”, and indeed he was.
Dilip Kumar – The Actor
Dilip Saab began his journey as an actor in 1944. In his 54-year-long filmy career, he saw ups and downs and did over 60 films. At a later stage in life, he also tried his hands at film production, but the film got shelved.
His first film “Jwar Bhata” did not do well or bring him success but with it, Yousuf Khan came to be known as Dilip Kumar. Three years later, the role of Suraj in Jugnu brought him name and fame in the industry. The movie has a sad ending with Suraj becoming emotionless. Thus, began the journey of Dilip Kumar as a tragic hero.
But it was his iconic role as Salim, the lover boy in the epic Mughal-e-Azam that remains to this day, on the mouth of people. In an interview with Prasar Bharati, the actor confessed, it was his personal favourite too. Movies like Mughal-e-Azam, Devdas, Ram Aur Shyam, Kohinoor depicted his caliber as an actor on the silver screen. The last movie he did was Qila in 1998, a tale of twins.
Once asked, why he only did one or two movie in a year, his response amuses but speaks of his thoughts as a person too. He says, “The same artist for breakfast, the same artist for lunch, the same artist for dinner if that is the frequency, a common denominator, personality is built.” To portray different roles, in different formats, to divorce your personality and work with a new personality is difficult but facilitates longevity and gives a variety in roles to your audience. Every role, every character needs hard work. Artist is not bigger than literature, he said.
He did not go to any school of acting but created his own method of emoting long before method acting came to be known in India or abroad. His understated elegance and voice modulation technique is something young actors look up to.
Dilip Saab: The Tragic King
Dilip Saab was soon becoming the ‘Tragic King’. He was picking up roles that had a sad tale to tell. The method actor that he was, he got fully immersed in the roles he did. Although professionally, it worked well for him, personally the impact could be seen on him. On the recommendation of his doctor, Dilip Saab then venturing into light-hearted movie roles.
He joked, “My friends said, we don’t want to see your sad movies after a hard day at work….”
He, however, wasn’t just the ‘Tragic King’. He was also the romantic actor who won the heart of the actress with his charms and chivalry. “Uden Jab Jab zulfen” remains one of his most popular love songs. His romantic movies include Andaz, Aan, Daag, Devdas, Mughal-e-Azam. He was also someone who could play the tough and quality roles (Shakti,Vidhata), the patriotic one (Kranti), the comic ones (Ram Aur Shyam, Azaad, Kohinoor), and the hero who fought the evil (Gunga Jamuna, Qila).
At par with fellow actors
Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor were childhood friends, an actor he was often compared with. Both Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar portrayed serious tragic roles, which brought them into comparison.
Amitabh Bachchan considered Dilip Kumar his idol. Dilip Saab sent the senior Bachchan a letter of appreciation for his role in the movie Black, for which Dilip Saab thought Amitji deserved an Oscar.
On his demise, Amitabh Bachchan wrote, “An institution has gone. Whenever the history of Indian Cinema will be written, it shall always be ‘before Dilip Kumar, and after Dilip Kumar’.”
The First Khan.
The first Khan of Bollywood, Dilip Kumar holds the record for most wins for the Filmfare Award for Best Actor. He won it 8 times. He was also the inaugural recipient of the award.
He was honoured with Padma Bhushan (1991) and Padma Vibhushan (2015) by the Government of India. In 1994, he received the Dadasaheb Phalke Award and Nishan-e-Imtiaz in 1998, one of the highest awards in Pakistan.
He was also a member of the Parliament from April 2000 to April 2006.
He was an artist par excellence, much loved and respected, who contributed to Indian cinema for decades. PM Narendra Modi described Dilip Kumar as a cinematic legend. He wrote, “Dilip Kumar Ji will be remembered as a cinematic legend. He was blessed with unparalleled brilliance, due to which audiences across generations were enthralled. His passing away is a loss to our cultural world. Condolences to his family, friends and innumerable admirers. RIP.”
Dilip Kumar passed away of old age and was admitted to the hospital after complaints of breathlessness.