15 Lesser Known Facts About Dilip Kumar: The Man Who Was Ram Aur Shyam, Devdas And Salim


An era in Hindi cinema came to an end when Dilip Kumar breathed his last. During an acting career that spanned more than half a century (starting with Jwar Bhata in 1944 and ending with Quila in 1998), Dilip Kumar was largely the gold standard of cinema. His characteristic silent speech (sometimes so smooth that the microphones couldn’t pick him up), his attention to detail (running to the point of collapsing to make a death scene authentic in Ganga Jumna), and his versatility made him the one of the best in Indian cinema. the monuments. As the mortal world bids farewell to the man so revered as “Yusuf Sahab,” here is a look at some lesser-known facts about him:

This voice was not for the camera

One of the hallmarks of Dilip Kumar’s acting was the gentle, almost discreet way he delivered his lines. Contrary to popular belief, this was not a style suitable for cameras. Kumar says he also spoke very quietly in real life. He attributes this to his parents, pointing out that his mother was very sweet and his father never screamed even when he was upset.

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Dilip Kumar Dilip Kumar had a very soft voice in real life. (Photo: Express Archives)

A Raj Kapoor discovery

Well, in terms of strict historical accuracy, Dilip Kumar was the biggest star Raj Kapoor discovered. Mind you, Raj Kapoor wasn’t a filmmaker himself at the time. The two lived close to each other and attended the same college (Khalsa College). And obviously, that’s when Raj Kapoor said to Yusuf Khan, “You can be a star.” If ever it needed proof that Raj Kapoor could spot a star …

Dilip Kumar Dilip Kumar with Raj Kapoor. (Photo: Express Archives)

The cinema killed the football star

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Despite all of Raj Kapoor’s wise advice, Dilip Kumar actually wanted to become a good soccer player (his dad wanted him to focus on chess – it wasn’t the first time they weren’t to. agreement). He was a very good player at school, and was the secretary of his school’s football association, but hey, real life had other ideas!

Dilip Kumar Not only an actor, Dilip Kumar was also a sportsman, and this photo is proof of that. (Photo: Express Archives / Instagram)

Nomenclature by another legend

As many know, Dilip Kumar was born Mohammed Yusuf Khan. He changed his name to Dilip Kumar on the advice of Hindi film legend Devika Rani, who hired him for Bombay Talkies, which is another story (and another point). He would however be known as “Yusuf Sahab” to many people.

he could sing

Although best known for his acting skills, Dilip Kumar was also known to sing well. However, he only sang once on screen – in Musafir (1957), where he sang “Lagi nahin chhote rama kahe jiya jai”. Many were struck by the similarity of his voice to that of the man who sang to him so often, Talat Mahmood.

… Was initially hired as a screenwriter

His fluency in Urdu landed him a job in Bombay Talkies (owned by the legendary Devika Rani) in 1942, as a screenwriter. He was hired at Rs 1,250 per month. They didn’t know he would make pronouncing lines as great an art as writing them.

Dilip Kumar as a writer Dilip Kumar was hired as a screenwriter at Rs 1,250 per month. (Photo: Express Archives)

… and was an expert in selling sandwiches

An argument with his father saw Kumar go to Pune. He set up a sandwich stand there and also did very good business, saving a princely sum of 5,000 rupees before returning home.

Practice around the house

The legendary comedian had a knack and a penchant for fixing things around the house. Whether it was trying to fix a fridge with a hanger or obsessively cleaning his shoe rack, Dilip Kumar was a busy person at home. According to his better half, Saira Banu, he also wreaked havoc on the house once, chasing cockroaches with a spray gun. And yes, his legendary attention to detail extended to housekeeping.

Dilip Kumar This photo shows Dilip Kumar styling hair on film sets. (Photo: Express Archives)

Inspired by another Kumar… Ashok!

Dilip Kumar’s tenure at Bombay Talkies coincided with the launch of the first true Hindi cinema blockbuster, Kismet in 1943. It starred Ashok Kumar, who was a big star at the time. Dilip Kumar was introduced to Ashok Kumar by Devika Rani and watched Ashok Kumar act cautiously. He credits Ashok Kumar for giving him the advice that has become his guideline for acting: “To act is not to act.

Win the Filmfare Awards

The famous Filmfare Awards were first presented in 1954. And the first person to win the Best Actor award was Dilip Kumar for his work in Daag. He has won the award eight times (a record he shares with Shah Rukh Khan), and is the only one to win the award three years in a row (1956 to 1958 for Azaad, Devdas and Naya Daur). He’s been nominated in every decade he’s been an active player – his last nomination came for Saudagar in 1992.

Film by Dilip Kumar Dilip Kumar was the first person to win the Best Actor award at the first Filmfare Awards in 1954. (Photo: Express Archive)

Dilip Kumar of Arabia? we never know

He’s never starred in a Hollywood movie, but Dilip Kumar had his chances. His most notable opportunity came when he was offered the role of Sherif Ali in the epic David Lean Lawrence of Arabia film. Kumar refused the role, which went to Omar Sharif. In his autobiography, Dilip Kumar would say that Omar Sharif did a better job than he would have. Of course, this is open to debate. There was also talk of her role opposite Elizabeth Taylor in a movie called Taj Mahal, but not much has been heard of. The loss of Hollywood was the gain of India.

The only Indian to win Pakistan’s highest civilian honor

An Indian winning Pakistan’s highest civilian honor? That too in the tense moments of the 90s? Well, Dilip Kumar was awarded the Nishan-e-Imtiaz in 1998. The award itself sparked a great deal of controversy with a few political parties involved, but Kumar ultimately received it. He remains the only Indian to have this honor.

Dilip Kumar Dilip Kumar was awarded the Nishan-e-Imtiaz in 1998. (Photo: Express Archive)

It could have been Chanakya

Many of his projects were abandoned, but perhaps the most famous of them was Chanakya-Chandragupta of BR Chopra in the mid-1970s. It featured Dilip Kumar as Chanakya, Dharmendra as Chandragupta and Kabir Bedi as Greek General Selucus. The film received a lot of publicity, so much so that Dilip Kumar’s makeup as bald Chanakya was promoted as a special photo essay in a top magazine. However, the movie was never made.

Language master

Dilip Kumar had an attentive ear for language and diction. He spoke Hindi, Pashto, Urdu, Punjabi, Marathi, English, Bengali, Gujarati and Persian, and was also fluent in Bhojpuri and Awadhi. He actually starred in a Bengali movie, Sagina Mahto (1970), and his Bhojpuri in Ganga Jumna was so fluid that Amitabh Bachhan was amazed that a person who was not from Uttar Pradesh could speak it like that. Incidentally, rumor has it that Dilip Kumar repeatedly told book legend Mohammad Rafi to be careful with his diction while singing for him – obviously, Rafi’s pronunciation was too Punjabi a touch for him.

The tragedy of the “king of tragedy”

Dilip Kumar became legendary for his tragic roles in films, often playing roles that at times moved audiences to tears. These performances earned him the title of “King of Tragedy”. However, it was a mixed blessing. In an interview, Kumar said that unlike other actors like Laurence Olivier who had tragic characters later in their careers, he had them when he was very young. And it affected him mentally. “They say to act like your mother is dead… Doing that every year or in every movie can impact you,” he said in an interview. He called acting in tragic movies almost as a punishment and even had to see a psychiatrist for help as it negatively affected him. Many believe this is the reason why he refused Guru Dutt’s Pyaasa, as he had just completed Devdas, which had exhausted him emotionally and left him very depressed.

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