He’s been compared to Hollywood great Marlon Brando or Italian legend Marcello Mastroianni

The indubitable legend, Dilip Kumar (Mohammed Yusuf Khan), who’s acted in more than 65 films spanning almost five decades, died on Wednesday 7th July after a prolonged illness.

He had been admitted to hospital on 30th June after complaining of breathing difficulties, and had been frequently ill over the last few months.

Tributes have been pouring in on social media for the legendary actor – politicians, Bollywood stars and even historians have tweeted.

Despite his first film ‘Jwar Bhatti’ (1944) going unnoticed, it was his 1947 film ‘Jugnu’ staring alongside Noor Jahan that brought him his first box office success.

He went on to star in films like Andaz, Mughal-e-Azam, Devdas, Gunga Jamuna, Ram Aur Shyam and Naya Daur, which won him legions of fans, and all of which are regarded as classics of Indian cinema.

Kumar essayed a gamut of roles, including a villager, a suave urbanite, a Bengali gentleman and a swashbuckling hero. But it was his roles in tragedy that earned him the title of ‘Tragedy King’. 

His portrayal of Prince Salim in K. Asif’s big-budget epic historical film Mughal-e-Azam in 1960, held the position of highest-grossing film in Indian film history for 11 years.

Born to Ayesha Begum and Lala Gulam Sarwar Khan on 11th December 1922 in Peshawar, located in present-day Pakistan, Dilip Kumar’s birth name was Mohammed Yusuf Khan. Like some of his Muslim contemporaries, he took on a Hindu name – Dilip Kumar – when he joined the Hindi film industry.

Kumar’s biographer Lord Meghnad Desai has compared him to Hollywood great Marlon Brando or Italian legend Marcello Mastroianni.

“More than his list of films and his box office popularity, Dilip Kumar reflected India’s political and social evolution through his films,” he said. 

“As independent India grew, prospered, ran into difficulties and faced challenges, Dilip Kumar’s roles told the story as it unfolded.”

Kumar is survived by his wife, Saira Banu, a Bollywood actress herself, and with whom he starred with in numerous films. The couple have no children.

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