Veteran Bollywood actor Dilip Kumar dies aged 98

Legendary actor Dilip Kumar’s death on Wednesday has left the entire Indian film fraternity shocked and in mourning. The legendary actor who passed away at the age of 98 has left a void in cinema and a huge body of work behind, for future filmmakers and actors to learn from. Dilip Kumar, who had been facing regular health issues for months now, passed away at Mumbai’s Hinduja Hospital.

“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,” his friend Faisal Farooqui wrote on the actor’s official Twitter account.

Kumar is survived by his wife, Saira Banu, a popular leading lady in Bollywood in the 1960s and 1970s.

Popularly known as the ‘Tragedy King’ and ‘The First Khan’ of Bollywood, Kumar was known as a method actor who was never limited to genres. In a career spanning more than 5 decades, the prolific legend was part of comedies, dramas, romance, and so on.

Some of his best known films include Aan, Daag, Devdas, Madhumati, Azaad, Mughal-e-Azam, Gunga Jamuna, Kranti, Karma, Ram Aur Shyam, among others.

But although a Bollywood legend, he missed out on international fame after turning down the chance to play Sherif Ali in David Lean’s 1962 classic Lawrence of Arabia. The part went to an Egyptian actor, Omar Sharif.

Kumar was born Yusuf Khan on December 11, 1922 in Peshawar, then part of British-ruled India. His father was a fruit merchant who took his family to India’s entertainment capital in the 1930s.

But the son turned his back on the chance to take over the firm when the actress Devika Rani spotted him on his father’s fruit stall in the then Bombay, leading to a part in his first film, Jwar Bhata, in 1944.

Rani persuaded him to change his name, so he chose Dilip Kumar, allowing him to hide what he was doing from his disapproving father.

Although Jwar Bhata flopped and leading film magazines criticised his performance Kumar was undeterred and eventually broke through with the 1946 film Milan.

Among his most remembered roles was in the lavish historical romance Mughal-e-Azam, based on the life of one of India’s great Mughal princes.

Dilip Kumar also possessed the distinction of being the only Indian recipient of Pakistan’s highest civilian award, Nishan-e-Imtiaz.

For his contribution to cinema, Dilip Kumar was conferred with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, India’s highest award in the artform. He also received the Padma Vibhushan, the second-highest civilian award of the country.

Along with Shah Rukh Khan, he held the record for winning the most Filmfare Awards in the Best Actor category: 8. He also won the inaugural trophy in the same category in 1954.

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