The Indian entertainment industry has seen generation after generation of celebrities but a true superstar is born once in a blue moon. Dilip Kumar, Bollywood’s megastar, has left an ever-lasting impact, unmatched legacy, and indeed very big shoes to fill.
Mohammed Yusuf Khan, better known by his stage name Dilip Kumar, was an Indian actor and film producer who played a pivotal role in shaping the Indian film industry. His serious roles in cinema led him to being referred to as “Tragedy King”. Apart from being the most celebrated star in India, Dilip Kumar also holds the record for most wins of the Filmfare Award for Best Actor.
The Beginning of a Legacy
Mohammad Yusuf Khan was born in 1922 in the city of Peshawar, British India (present-day Pakistan). While his father was a fruit merchant, Kumar had big dreams of his own. He was one of 12 children and was schooled at Barnes School, Deolali.
Kumar befriended a young Raj Kapoor who later became his colleague in the film industry, too. Despite the partition of India and Pakistan, Kumar’s family continued to reside in Bombay.
The star made his acting debut in the 1944 film Jwar Bhata where he worked under his stage name Dilip Kumar. It was later revealed in his autobiography Dilip Kumar: The Substance and the Shadow, the name ‘Dilip Kumar’ was suggested by producer and film actress Devika Rani. Dilip Kumar wasn’t a persona or an alter ego; it was a whole new identity. He disclosed in a 1970 interview that he never worked under his real name out of fear of his father, who didn’t approve of his acting career.
Dilip Kumar’s Work
Kumar didn’t instantly shoot to fame – like most, he had a rocky start with his debut film going unnoticed. A similar fate was shared by his other projects like Jugnu in 1947. Things started to look up for the celebrity when his film Andaz became one of the highest-grossing Indian films.
In the 50s, Dilip rose to new heights of fame with successful roles in movies like Jogan, Babul, Deedar, Tarana, and many more. These films went on to become the highlights of Kumar’s acting career, and with this newfound fame, the star started revolutionizing and reforming the Indian film industry, all the while leaving behind a great legacy.
Dilip Kumar passed away on 7 July 2021 due to old age-related diseases. His death left a great void in the industry and the hearts of his fans.