Legendary Bollywood actor Dilip Kumar — one of many biggest stars in the golden age of Indian cinema from the 1940s to the 1960s — died on Wednesday at the age of 98.
“With a huge heart and profound grief, I announce the passing away of our beloved Dilip Saab,” Faisal Farooqui, a family group friend, posted on Kumar’s official Twitter.
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. – Faisal Farooqui
— Dilip Kumar (@TheDilipKumar) July 7, 2021
In accordance with the Hindustan Times, Kumar has been admitted to the intensive care unit on June 30 to “address medical issues” linked to old age. He was earlier admitted to the same hospital on June 6 after experiencing breathlessness.
Kumar is survived by his wife, Saira Banu, a well-known leading lady in Bollywood in the 1960s and 1970s.
Condolences poured in as Bollywood and politicians alike mourned the loss of the actor. Prime Minister Imran Khan stated that for his generation Kumar was the “greatest and most versatile actor “.
“I can never forget his generosity in giving his time to simply help raise funds for Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust Hospital when the project was launched,” he said.
Saddened to learn of Dilip Kumar’s passing. I can never forget his generosity in giving his time to help raise funds for SKMTH when project launched. This is the most difficult time – to raise first 10% of the funds & his appearance in Pak & London helped raise huge amounts.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) July 7, 2021
“He was blessed with unparalleled brilliance, due to which audiences across generations were enthralled. His passing away is just a loss to our cultural world,” he said.
Dilip Kumar Ji will be remembered as a cinematic legend. He was blessed with unparalleled brilliance, due to which audiences across generations were enthralled. His passing away is a loss to our cultural world. Condolences to his family, friends and innumerable admirers. RIP.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 7, 2021
“To the world, many more might be heroes. To us actors, he was The Hero. #DilipKumar sir has taken an entire era of Indian cinema away with him,” said actor Akshay Kumar.
To the world many others may be heroes. To us actors, he was The Hero. #DilipKumar Sir has taken an entire era of Indian cinema away with him.
My thoughts and prayers are with his family. Om Shanti 🙏🏻 pic.twitter.com/dVwV7CUfxh
— Akshay Kumar (@akshaykumar) July 7, 2021
Actor Ajay Devgan recalled the many moments he distributed to Kumar. “An organization, a classic actor. Heartbroken,” he said.
Shared many moments with the legend…some very personal, some on stage. Yet, nothing really prepared me for his passing away. An institution, a timeless actor. Heartbroken.
Deepest condolences to Sairaji🙏🏼#DilipKumar pic.twitter.com/Il8qaMOOhf
— Ajay Devgn (@ajaydevgn) July 7, 2021
Funeral prayer at ancestral Peshawar home
The actor’s funeral prayer in absentia was offered at his ancestral home in Peshawar’s Mohallah Khudadad.
A big number of Kumar’s fans and locals attended the funeral prayer and lit candles in his memory facing his ancestral home.
Kumar’s nephew, Fawad Ishaq, told Dawn.com that the family had applied for a visa and would visit India for prayers if it had been approved. “The death of Dilip Kumar is a great loss,” he said.
Nicknamed “The Tragedy King” because of his brooding good looks, tousled hair, and deep voice, Kumar played the lead in some of the Indian film industry’s most commercially successful films of the time scale, earning him iconic status.
But although a Bollywood legend, he missed on international fame after turning down the opportunity to play Sherif Ali in David Lean’s 1962 classic Lawrence of Arabia. The part went along to an Egyptian actor, Omar Sharif.
Kumar has created Yusuf Khan on December 11, 1922, in Peshawar, then a section 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 opportunity to take over the firm when the actress Devika Rani spotted him on his father’s fruit stall in the then Bombay, ultimately causing a component in his first film, Jwar Bhata, in 1944.
Rani persuaded him to improve his name, so he chose Dilip Kumar, allowing him to cover what he was doing from his disapproving father.
Although Jwar Bhata flopped and leading film magazines criticized 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.
The movie, released in 1960, was eight years in the making and cost a mind-boggling 15 million rupees, but soon became one of Bollywood’s biggest-grossing films of the time.
Kumar, who cited Hollywood greats Marlon Brando, Gary Cooper, and Spencer Tracy as influences, later won acclaim in 1964 for the nationalistic Leader, screened against a backdrop of recent wars against China and Pakistan.
The 1970s saw fewer roles, as younger actors like Amitabh Bachchan took center stage.
He even took a five-year break after a sequence of flops, returning in 1981 with the hit Kranti (revolution) and a component alongside Bachchan in Shakti (strength) these years, plus a sequence of character roles.
Actor and lawmaker
After a series of badly-received films, he used an even more active role in politics in 1998 and worked to end the feuding between India and Pakistan.
The same year saw him receive the highest civilian honor in Pakistan, angering Hindu nationalists. 2 yrs later he became a lawmaker for the then-opposition Congress party.
Unlike many actors who appeared in countless films, the versatile Kumar carefully selected those, by Indian standards, which only increased his stature in the fiercely competitive industry.
In 2006 he accepted a lifetime achievement award at India’s National Film Awards in recognition of his contribution to Indian cinema.
Yet he still admitted that he was baffled at his success.
“Honestly, I’ve still to work out how an intensely shy young man called Yusuf Khan became the actor Dilip Kumar,” he told The Hindustan Times within an interview to mark his 85th birthday.