Dilip Kumar is an Indian film actor and Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha). He is the recipient of India's highest award for cinematic excellence, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award and also the Nishan-e-Imtiaz, Pakistan's highest civilian award.
Dilip Kumar was born Yusuf Khan in Peshawar (now Pakistan) in a Pathan family of twelve children. His father relocated to Bombay (now Mumbai), where the young Yusuf Khan became involved in the Bollywood film industry. A Hindi novelist suggested that he use a screen name, Dilip Kumar. His first film. Jwar Bhatta, was released in 1944.
In 1949, he co-starred with Raj Kapoor in the film Andaz, which went to become a major success and made him a superstar. Tragic roles in popular films such as Deedar (1951) and Devdas (1955) earned him the title of "tragedy king". The film Mughal-e-Azam (1960), in which he played crown-prince Jehangir, the son of Akbar, was also a huge hit. He produced and starred in the 1961 hit Ganga Jamuna. Despite the huge success of the movie, he did not produce another film.
In the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, Dilip Kumar acted in fewer films. Newer actors had taken the spotlight. However, his many fans were still willing to go see him in the character roles he increasingly favored. He co-starred with Amitabh Bachchan in the 1982 movie Shakti. While the movie was not a major success, Dilip Kumar won a Filmfare Award for his role as a father and an uncompromising policeman.
Some of his older films have achieved the status of "evergreen classics", shown over and over again on television or cherished on videotape and DVD. A few of them, such as Devdas, Ram aur Shyam, and Ganga Jamuna, have been re-made several times.
Dilip had a narrow brush with wider fame in 1962, when Hollywood director David Lean offered him the role of Sherif Ali in his 1962 blockbuster, Lawrence of Arabia. However, Kumar declined the part. The role eventually went to Omar Sharif, the Egyptian actor.
He was awarded the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1995. In 1998 he was awarded the Nishan-e-Imtiaz, the highest civilian award conferred by the government of Pakistan. He is the second Indian to receive the award; the first was former Indian prime minister Morarji Desai. Anti-Muslim, anti-Pakistan Hindutva politicians like Bal Thackeray objected strongly to the award, and asked him to return it, but Mr. Kumar held his ground.
Dilip Kumar is considered one of the best actors produced by the Bollywood film industry, and Kumar fans see echoes of his style in the work of younger stars like Shahrukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan.
He married actress and "beauty queen" Saira Banu in 1966 when he was aged 44 and she aged 22. At the time, gossip columnists predicted doom for the high-profile couple, but Dilip and Saira have proved them wrong. Their union has been one of the longest lasting marriages in Bollywood.
He has been active in efforts to bring the people of India and Pakistan closer together. He has been a member of the upper house of Parliament since 2000 and is known for his extensive charity work.