RIP Dilip Kumar: Did you know about these 13 lesser-known facts about the Bollywood legend?
Earlier today, the death of the 'tragedy king' Dilip Kumar left a sea of teary-eyed fans, followers and admirers, including some of the biggest names in the country. While the country mourns the death of the legend, it also gives us a chance to look at his journey. From starting out as a canteen contractor to giving 27 retakes to perfect a shot of hurling a glass of liquor in anger, here are lesser-known facts about the legendary actor:
1. Born as Mohammed Yusuf Khan on December 11, 1922, he was one of the 12 children of his family. His father owned orchards in Peshawar (a part of undivided India) and Nashik and the young Khan was groomed to take over the family business. But years later, in 1940, a family feud saw him walking out of home and taking up a job as a canteen contractor at Pune’s local army club. But, life had other and bigger plans for this dreamy-eyed handsome boy.
2. Three years later, Devika Rani, owner of the famed Bombay Talkies, was taking a snack break at the above mention canteen when she spotted the young Khan. Charmed by his courteous behaviour, she asked him if he would like to act in films. In response, Dilip Kumar said that he would if his father permitted.
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Months later, he returned home with a saving of Rs 5,000, no less than a fortune in those days. But when he broached the subject of him having a career in films to his father, the answer was a firm no. Unswayed by his father’s decision, he approached his father's old neighbour from Peshawar, Prithviraj Kapoor, who was by then a well-known actor, for help. Kapoor intervened and the senior Khan agreed although he was reluctant.
3. Keeping her word, Devika Rani asked him to change his name to 'Dilip Kumar' and cast him in Jwar Bhata (1944). The film didn’t do well. Two of his subsequent films, Pratima and Milan (both released in 1945), had a similar fate. But, neither Dilip Kumar nor Devika Rani gave up. And, two years later, it was Jugnu (1947) that gave Dilip Kumar's career the push it needed. Soon he gave other hits like Shaheed (1948), Mela (1948), Shabnam (1949) and Andaz (1949), the latter with Raj Kapoor and Nargis. Rest as they say is history.
4. It is said that his personality was such that the atmosphere on the sets would change when he would arrive for the shoot. Once, he reached the film set on a grim note as he had to shoot a tragic scene, and soon everybody present on the set also became serious, making the atmosphere look like a funeral. But just then, somebody cracked a joke and a few people laughed. Seeing that, Dilip Kumar declared that he couldn't do justice to the tragic scene in such a jovial environment. He then cancelled the shoot and returned home.
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5. Such a perfectionist Dilip Kumar was that during a shot of hurling a glass of liquor in anger, he insisted on 27 retakes before being satisfied with the shot.
6. Dilip Kumar loved good food. In fact, Mutton Biryani was among his favourite delicacies.
7. It is said that Dilip Kumar paved the way for the entry of many newcomers including Aruna Irani and Kader Khan.
8. The actor had a strong liking for colour pink. On numerable occasions, he could be seen sporting a pink shirt.
9. Dilip Kumar had fallen in love with Madhubala during the shooting of Tarana. They remained in a relationship for seven years until the Naya Daur court case, during which Kumar betrayed her by testifying against Madhubala and her father, ending their relationship.
10. In 1966, Dilip Kumar married Saira Banu, who was 22 years younger than him, and barring a brief hiccup when he fell in love and married Asma Rehman in 1981 (it ended in 1983), their marriage lasted happily for more than five decades till he took his last breath.
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11. Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu do not have any children. In his biography Dilip Kumar: The Substance and the Shadow, the actor revealed revealed that Saira Banu conceived in 1972 but in her eighth month of pregnancy, she developed high blood pressure and the doctors couldn't save the baby, which had been strangulated by the umbilical cord. After that, they did not try to have children believing that it was God's will.
12. Over the years, Dilip Kumar earned the sobriquet of the ‘Tragedy King’ for his memorable portrayals in films like Andaz (1950), Devdas (1955) and Mughal-E-Azam (1960) among others. In fact, they even affected his sensitive personality and he sought psychiatric counselling. He tried to balance the image with light-hearted roles in films such as India's first full-colour film Aan (1952), Naya Daur (1957), Kohinoor (1960) and Ram Aur Shyam (1967). He eventually took a break and returned to full-time acting with films Kranti (1981), Mashaal (1984), Karma (1986), Saudagar (1991), and his swansong Quila (1998).
13. His wife Saira Banu relates that Dilip Kumar could give a mellifluous Azaan or quote from the Quran as well as from the Bhagvad Gita and the Bible. He was known for celebrating Diwali with the same fervour as Eid and in the 1980s, as Sheriff of Bombay, he presided over the breaking of the arduous 30-day fast of Jain children.
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(with inputs from IANS)