Dilip Saab is a Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Dadasaheb Phalke awardee. Hindi movies and Filmfare awards are inseparable and it is befitting that he was the 1st recipient of Best Actor Award ( for Daag). In fact, he has the record of as many as 8 Filmfare Awards and this record was tied by Shah Rukh Khan in 2011.

While he was born as Muhammed Yusuf Khan, Devika Rani of Bombay Talkies gave him the name Dilip Kumar. Due to his strong knowledge of Urdu, initially, he worked in the script and story writing department. Before that, he had experimented as a sandwich stall owner at an army canteen when he had briefly left home as a teenager after a tiff with his rich father.

India's first superstar Dilip Kumar today on 11th of December celebrates his 95th Birthday
Happy Birthday Dilip Kumar: The First Superstar Of The Bollywood Industry!


Dilip Saab’s 1st movie was Jwar Bhata, but his 1st major hits were Jugnu, Shaheed and Mela. Later in the 1950’s he had several tragedy movies in a row including Daag, Devdas and Madhumati for which he came to be known as tragedy king.


In fact, too much intense preparation for tragedy roles led to his suffering from depression. His psychiatrist advised him not to act in tragedy movies for some time and take up comic roles too to relax. Kohinoor was probably the 1st of such comic movies and Ram Aur Shyam was another.

Mughal-e-Azam was a peak of his career and it was India’s biggest hit till it was overtaken by Sholay. It has been calculated that at current box office rates Mughal-e-Azam would have broken the 1000 crore mark. Recently a very popular spectacular musical play Mughal-e-Azam is breaking records as well.

Dilip Kumar being much older hardly had a chance to act with his successor superstars. In Guddi, he, Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh all had cameos. He did act in Shakti with Amitabh. He could not act with SRK but SRK gave him a tribute by acting in the remake of Devdas.

Dilip Kumar’s ancestral home at Peshawar has been converted into a museum by the Pakistan Government. Maybe he could have been a huge Hollywood Star but mysteriously turned down David Lean’s offer of a role in Lawrence of Arabia, a role which was ultimately played by Omar Sharif and which got him an Oscar Nomination. Was it opportunity Lost? Dilip Saab has no regrets and as gracious as ever says that Omar did a better job than what he could have done.

Happy Birthday, Sir.

Ritesh Misra is an IRS officer currently based in Mumbai. He blogs & tweets @riteshmisra.



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