Bollywood idol Dilip Kumar’s debut film “Jwar Bhata” (1944) happened by a quirk of fate if a new book on the life and times of the legendary actor is to be believed.

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Devika Rani, the superstar of the era, and filmmaker Amiya Chakrabarty were location hunting in Nainital when Dilip Kumar, then Yusuf Khan, happened to be at the hill station too, on a business deal. On a chance meeting, Devika Rani was impressed by Yusuf’s handsome Pathani frame. Giving him her card, Devika Rani asked Yusuf to meet her once he returned to Mumbai.

When Legendary Actress Devika Rani Screentested Dilip Kumar For His Debut Film, Jwar Bhata
When Legendary Actress Devika Rani Screentested Dilip Kumar For His Debut Film, Jwar Bhata

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Soon, Yusuf had landed up in front of Devika Rani and Amiya Chakrabarty, giving a screen test for their upcoming film, according to Trinetra Bajpai and Anshula Bajpai’s book, “Dilip Kumar: Peerless Icon Inspiring Generations” (publisher: Bloomsbury).

The film for which he screen-tested, it would later emerge, was “Jwar Bhata”, which would mark Yusuf Khan’s entry into Bollywood as Dilip Kumar. He was paid a monthly salary of Rs 1000 plus Rs 200 as war allowance — a princely sum back in the day — to work in the film.

In fact, in his early years, Devika Rani, who was a powerful name in Bollywood back then, ensured Dilip Kumar had the right grooming to become a star.

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