Dilip Kumar – The ‘First Khan’

Dilip Kumar is an Indian Bollywood movie actor and producer. He has been labeled as the ‘First Khan’ and the ‘Tragedy King.’ He is regarded as one of most significant and greatest Indian actors of all time. Many critics believe that it was Kumar who brought realistic acting to Indian cinema. Renowned filmmaker and Oscar winner Satyajit Ray has stated that Dilip was the ultimate method actor. He is said to one of the first superstars to employ method acting, even before great actors from Hollywood like Marlon Brando who did method acting.

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Early Life

Kumar was born as Mohammad Yusuf Khan on 11th December 1922, in Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. His family spoke Hindko and lived in the Qissa Khawani Bazaar neighborhood. Lala Ghulam Sarwar, Dilip’s father, was a fruit merchant and landlord with orchards in Deolali, Maharashtra, and Peshawar.

Kumar did his schooling at Barnes School located in Deolali.

When he was still an adolescent, Kumar had a disagreement with his father and hence left home and travelled to Poona. There he got a contract to manage a sandwich stall in an army club. After the contract ended, he came to Mumbai with his savings. In Mumbai, Kumar became acquainted with Dr. Masani who then introduced Dilip to the owner of Bombay Talkies, actress Devika Rani. Kumar subsequently signed a contract with the company and began working there for a monthly salary of INR 1250.

At Bombay Talkies, Dilip worked in the script and story writing department because of his command over the Urdu language. It was also at this company that he became acquainted with actor Ashok Kumar. On the request of Devika Rani, Yusuf changed his name to Dilip Kumar. Rani then offered him his debut role in the 1944 movie Jwar Bhata.


The debut movie of Kumar was not successful. His next few movies also went unnoticed. His first hit was the 1947 film Jugnu opposite actress Noor Jehan.

Kumar’s career has spanned over more than 60 years and during this time he has acted in more than 65 movies. Some of his most memorable roles were in films such as the 1949 romance Andaz, the 1952 stylish Aan, the 1955 tragedy drama Devdas, the 1955 comedy Azaad, the 1960 historical romance Mughal-e-Azam, and 1961’s social drama Ganga Jamuna.

After a break of 5 years, Kumar returned to acting with the 1981 blockbuster multi-starrer Kranti. He subsequently gave critically acclaimed performances in hits like Karma, Shakti, and Saudagar. He did his last movie Qila in the year 1998. In 2004, Mughal-e-Azam was digitally colorized and theatrically re-released. In 2008, Naya Daur was also colorized and shown in cinemas.

Dilip Kumar – Pictures

Personal Life and Trivia

  • In 1966, Kumar married actress Saira Banu. He was 22 years older than her. In 1980, Kumar married for the second time to . But the marriage did not last long.
  • It is alleged that Kumar had romantic relationships with actresses Kamini Kaushal, Madhubala, and Vyjayanthimala.
  • Kumar is 1.78 meters tall.
  • In 1954, Kumar was the first one to receive the Filmfare Best Actor Award. He has won a record 9 Filmfare Awards and holds the joint record (with Shah Rukh KhaAsman) for the most number of Filmfare Best Actor Awards, with 8 wins.
  • In 1991, Kumar was honored with the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India; and with the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award, in 2015. In 1994, he received the Dadasaheb Phalke Award. In 1997, the Government of Pakistan honored him with the Nishan-e-Imtiaz, the country’s highest civilian honor.
  • The INC appointed Kumar as a member of the Rajya Sabha for the period of 2000 to 2006.

Dilip Kumar with Wife Asma

With Kamini Kaushal

With Vyjayanthimala

With Madhubala

With Wife Saira Banu

Dilip Kumar –   Book

The autobiography ‘ Dilip Kumar – The Substance and the Shadow’ documents his inspiring story and his frailties.

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