Dilip Kumar’s masterclass acting from ‘Mughal-e-Azam’ to ‘Karma’

It’s the end of an era, as legendary actor Dilip Kumar passed away on Wednesday morning. The actor was 98 and is survived by his wife, veteran actor Saira Banu.

Dilip Kumar, born Yusuf Khan, known as the Tragedy King of Bollywood, had a glowing career spanning more than five decades. From comedy to tragedy, from dark and gritty dramas to romance, he gave the industry innumerable classics, and was considered the first method actor of India. There was just something new to discover in his acting with each film, and he inspired generations of actors.

One of the most famous roles he played as Salim in the historical film ‘Mughal-e-Azam’, became a blockbuster, and up until 2008, it was the second highest grossing film in the history of Bollywood. This probably needs no introduction as it is considered one of the most iconic films in India. The epic historical drama, directed by K. Asif, starred Prithiviraj Kapoor, Madhubala, Durga Khote alongside Dilip Kumar. It chronicled the love affair between Salim (Kumar) and Anarkali (Madhubala), which lead to a rift between Akbar and his son. The film was considered a milestone of its genre, and broke box office records, won National Award as well as four Filmfare Awards.

There has been only one Dilip Kumar. His smouldering intensity, a delivery filled with deep pauses and his ability to inhabit the characters was a joy to watch. His six-decade career — 58 years to be precise — comprises unforgettable movies and unforgettable moments that have ever lit the Indian silver screen.

1944-1960: Dilip Kumar’s first film, Jwar Bhata (1944) went largely unnoticed; three years later, Jugnu was his first major box- office hit. Several hits followed: Mela (1948), Andaz (1949), Deedar (1951). After PC Barua, he was the second actor to play the role of Devdas in the 1955 film, an adaptation of a Saratchandra Chattopadhyay novella. The Fifties anointed Kumar as the ‘Tragedy King’ of Bollywood, the only superstar who excelled in this form at the time of Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand. The tragic roles, however, took their toll. On the suggestion of his psychiatrist, Kumar decided to do light-hearted roles. And he did just that with films like Aan (1952), Azaad (1955) and Kohinoor (1960).

1960-1970: In 1960 film Mughal-e-Azam, where he played the role of Salim. In Ganga Jamuna (1961), his first and only production, for the first time Kumar and his brother Nasir Khan appeared together and played the title roles. Kumar, in fact was also one of the few actors of that time to have been offered an international project: he was offered the role of Sherif Ali by British director David Lean for the film Lawrence of Arabia (1962).

1970-1980: The ’70s wasn’t a particularly good time for Kumar with several new and young actors entering the film industry. His career was at an all-time low. He tried his hand at experimenting with his roles in films such as Dastaan (1970) and Bairaag (1976), even playing a triple role, but neither film did well. From 1976 to 1981, he decided to take a hiatus from acting. —Hindustan Times

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