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Life & Style

Veteran actor Dilip Kumar passes away after lengthy illness

The news comes nearly a week after he was admitted in hospital for a serious breathing issue.
Published July 7, 2021
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Legendary Bollywood actor Dilip Kumar passed away at a Mumbai hospital on Wednesday after a prolonged illness. He was 98.

The news, confirmed on Wednesday morning by a relative running Kumar's Twitter account, comes nearly a week after he was admitted in hospital for a serious breathing issue. He had also spent some time in the ICU of the Hinduja Hospital, a non-Covid-19 facility.

"With a heavy heart and profound grief, I announce the passing away of our beloved Dilip Saab, few minutes ago," wrote Faisal Farooqui at 8:01am (Indian Standard Time).

Born Mohammed Yusuf Khan in 1922 in Peshawar, he was known by the screen name of Dilip Kumar once he joined Bollywood in the 1940s.

Kumar is survived by his wife, Saira Banu, a popular leading lady in Bollywood in the 1960s and 1970s.

"The tragedy king"

Kumar did his first film, Jwar Bhata in 1944, which tanked. His breakthrough role came in 1949, with Andaz, where he played a jilted lover who is caught in a triangle between the woman he loves and her husband.

That role catapulted him to stardom, and was the beginning of a decade where he made a career of playing tragic roles.

Bimal Roy’s adaptation of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s seminal novel Devdas was the turning point in an already successful career, catapulting him to super-stardom.

His role as the doomed lover in Devdas earned Kumar the epithet of “tragedy king” — the man who embodied melancholy on screen.

"An institution has gone .. whenever the history of Indian Cinema will be written , it shall always be 'before Dilip Kumar, and after Dilip Kumar", actor Amitabh Bachchan said on Twitter.

Kumar said he felt weighed down after years of playing tragic roles. In the late 1950’s, he made a conscious attempt to play more upbeat roles, acting in romantic films like Madhumati, Aan and Naya Daur.

In his later years, although the hits were harder to come by, Kumar retained his stature as India's first marquee star — the man whose face on a poster was enough for audiences to throng the theatres.

"Dilip Kumar ji will be remembered as a cinematic legend. He was blessed with unparalleled brilliance, due to which audiences across generations were enthralled," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.

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