Legendary Indian actor Dilip Kumar, born as Muhammad Yusuf Khan in Peshawar to Ayesha Begum and Lala Ghulam Sarwar Ali Khan, turns 97 today. Popularly known as ‘The Tragedy King’ and ‘The First Khan’, he has been credited with bringing realism to film acting since his first film, Jwar Bhata, in 1944.
Kumar was an excellent method actor of his time, as noted by Satyajit Ray. In the 1952 film, Daag, produced and directed by Amiya Chakravarty, Kumar played the role of Shankar, who lives a life of poverty with his mother. He makes and sells mud toys to earn money. Being the lone bread winner of the family, Shankar is unable to meet the needs, and his debts start increasing when he gets addicted to alcohol. Kumar also played the titular character in Bimal Roy’s Devdas (1955), a film adaptation of Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s novel of the same name, set against the backdrop of rural Bengal during feudal times. Devdas is a young man from a wealthy Brahmin family in India, who descends into life-threatening alcoholism when his childhood love, Paro, marries another man. Shankar and Devdas are two of Kumar’s most memorable roles. He has won nine Filmfare Awards and is the first recipient of the Filmfare Best Actor Award (1954).
His last film appearance was in Qila (1998). Recently, he has been hospitalised for pneumonia a few times, but he came out unscathed. We wish the actor good health and a very happy birthday!