Mohammed Yusuf Khan, popularly known as Dilip Kumar or ‘Dilip Shaab’ by his loved ones and the Indian film fraternity. Dilip Kumar was regarded as one of the finest actors of Indian cinema, who has inspired great actors like Balraj Sahni, Amitabh Bachchan, Kamal Haasan, Naseeruddin Shah, Aamir Khan, Shahrukh Khan, Irrfan Khan, and Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Through his magnificent acting, he has won and ruled over millions of hearts across the globe and his legend continues to live. He was an institution in himself as he beautifully portrayed various shades of emotions on screen.
During my growing up years, some of my favourite films of Dilip Kumar were Devdas, Naya Daur, Mughal-E-Azam, Shakti and Gunga Jumna. Dilip Kumar has beautifully and poetically filled the canvas with various colours of emotions. Whether it is a heartbroken drunk lover, a prince who retaliates for his love, an honest police officer, a loyal and honest commoner and friend, or as an outstanding comedian – he has portrayed each character with finesse.
Dilip Kumar in his glorious acting career has won eight times Filmfare Award for best actor. It is a record for any single actor winning maximum best actor award only to be shared by Shahrukh Khan. Dilip Kumar won Filmfare Best actor award for Daag (1952), Devdas (1954), Azaad (1954), Naya Daur (1957), Kohinoor (1959), Leader (1964), Ram Aur Shyam (1967) and Shakti (1981). He was also honoured by the Government of India with Padma Bhushan (1981), Dadasaheb Phalke Award (1994) and Padma Vibhushan (2015). Did you know that he is the only Indian citizen to be awarded the highest Pakistani civilian honour of Nishan-E-Imtiaz (2014)?
Here’s my list of five films of Dilip Kumar that have been etched in my memory. If you’re planning to watch some of Dilip Kumar’s classic films, you could add these to your list:
Devdas truly belongs to Dilip Kumar. He has very convincingly played the character of a heartbroken drunk lover in Devdas. Devdas belongs to a wealthy Bengali Brahmin family, and he falls in love with his childhood friend, Parvati (Suchitra Sen). However, due to social status and caste differences, he could not marry Parvati. Devdas, a dutiful son, has no courage to go against his parents’ wish, neither does he have the courage to fight for his love. With all the emotional turmoil going inside, he feels stuck between his parents and his lover. In between all the chaos, Parvati’s marriage
is gets fixed. Devdas, on knowing about Parvati’s marriage, finally realises that he will lose his love. He goes to Parvati with a marriage proposal but, is too late, and Parvati refuses his proposal.
Parvati getting married to someone else, Devdas could not bear this loss and pain. He is immensely heartbroken and in a lot of pain. Devdas leaves the town to overcome his pain and hurt. In the journey, he meets Chunni Babu, who introduces him to alcohol and courtesan Chandramukhi to overcome his unbearable pain. Eventually, he starts spending many days, continuously drinking at Chandramukhi’s place. Witnessing Devdas pure love and pain, Chandramukhi falls in love with him and starts to take care of him.
Devdas His health starts to deteriorate because of heavy drinking and realises he has few days to live. Devdas He goes to meet Parvati for the one last time to keep his promise, to see Parvati before he dies; but sadly Devdas dies breathes his last at her doorstep on a dark, cold night. Dilip Kumar portrayed the character so poetically, that one can feel his pain, anger and hopelessness and sympathise with him. It is one of the best works of Dilip Kumar, and he will always be recognised and remembered for his role as Devdas.
Naya Daur (1957)
Naya Daur is a story about a village, where the locals are facing issues such as unemployment with the advent of modernization. Dilip Kumar plays the character of modest villager ‘Shankar’ with ease. Shankar a tonga puller of the village, struggles with his earnings when the son of landlord Kundan (Jeevan) brings a bus to the village. With the arrival of a bus in the village, just like Shankar, other villagers also face a similar problem and decided to request Kundan to withdraw the bus. But Kundan refuses to do so and challenges villagers for the race between bus and tonga (horse-cart) where the winner of the race will stay in the village and the loser has to leave. Naturally so, the villagers get scared with an unmatched race between bus and horse-cart and again pleaded for mercy. At this moment Shankar interfered and says it is better to earn ‘Do Waqt Ki Roti’ respectfully than begging and accepts the challenge.
For the race, all the villagers forgetting their differences united and helped Shankar to build a road for the race and win it. In the end, Shankar wins the race but clearly tells Kundan that he does not have a problem with the machines or modernization only if it does not affect the earning of low-income people. It simply amuses how Dilip Kumar could relate to the social issue of that era and deliver the message with simplicity. He has not only engaged the audience throughout but also successfully created awareness about social issues, how in the name of modernization poor people are suffering and losing their earnings.
For the healthy progression of the country, there must be a balance between machine and human. With impactful strong songs like ‘Yeh Desh Hai Veer Jawano Ka’ and ‘Saathi Haath Badhana,’ it clearly says that a country is nothing without its people and can progress if all the people are considered and thought about. Dilip Kumar’s acting is not only outstanding, and motivating abut but also so impactful that people could still relate to his problem. For this film, Dilip Kumar won the Filmfare Award for Best Actor and it will not be wrong to say it is one of the masterpieces of Dilip Kumar’s list of films.
Dilip Kumar portrayed the character of Mughal Princes Saleem who falls in love with a commoner ‘Anarkali’. But their love was unacceptable by the Emperor of Hindustan Akbar, and he captures and puts Anarkali in prison. Prince Saleem rebels against and challenges his father to fight to save his love. Dilip Kumar acting is very intense in the scene where Akbar comes to meet Saleem in his tent before the fight to make him understand for the last time. His acting is so influential that you could feel the pain and the desperation to get his lover back.
Another heart-wrenching scene of Dilip Kumar where he is simply outstanding is, after the war when Saleem is brought to Mughal court for a judgement of his deed, and he refuses to hand over Anarkali and accepts his death as punishment. The whole film can be summarized in one dialogue of Prince Saleem – “Times change, emperors change, destinies change…but when love grips a person, that person does not change!” He has beautifully portrayed the emotion of love, loyalty, sacrifice, anger and frustration. Dilip Kumar’s helplessness really tears our hearts and makes us cry.
Gunga Jumna (1961)
Gunga Jumna the plot of the film is very expected, highlighting the exploitation by a zamindar. Dilip Kumar’s character ‘Gungaram,’ is a diligent man, who is facing all the odds of society and the landlord does his best to give a good life to his younger brother and sends him to the city. Younger brother Jumna returns to the village as a police inspector and his duty now requires him to arrest Gungaram, who has become a dacoit.
What makes the movie different is Dilip Kumar’s mesmerizing acting and the realistic direction. Dilip Kumar gets into the skin of the character Gungaram with ease. Throughout the movie, Dilip Kumar is very impressive. From his body language to dialect delivery everything makes you believe in Gungaram. One could feel the intensity of turmoil happening in Gungaram’s life and could connect and relate to his pain and struggle. Dilip Kumar acting is so powerful, that you are inclined to empathise with Gungaram.
The scene which has a deep impact is where Gunga comes to meet his police inspector brother Jumna for the first time and pour his heart out narrating the terrible things that happened to him while Jumna was away. With hope, he asks his younger brother to help him come out of the wrong things and forgive him so that he can come back to his and village. Jumna the police inspector says his duty does not allow him to help a dacoit. In this scene, Dilip Kumar’s acting is so intense and influential that one is likely to get angry and cry with him. In ‘Gunga Jumna’ Dilip Kumar overshadowed everyone, and this film truly belongs to Dilip Kumar.
Dilip Kumar’s come back movie after a sabbatical was ‘Shakti’. In Shakti, Dilip Kumar brilliantly performed the character of Ashwini Kumar, an honest and passionate police officer. He has performed it so intensely that as an audience, we can feel his whirlpool of emotions, helplessness and love towards his son Vijay (Amitabh Bachchan).
The story is in flashback narrated by Dilip Kumar to his grandson Anil Kapoor. The film begins when Anil Kapoor shares, he wants to become a police officer like him. Ashwini narrates his life story to make him realise that job of a police officer is not easy and requires a lot of sacrifices.
Ashwini Kumar is determined to curb the crime in the city. He comes across a notorious smuggler J.K (Amrish Puri), who abducted his son Vijay. J.K puts a condition in front of Inspector Ashwini for releasing Vijay. Honest Ashwini refuses to give in to the demand of J.K and puts his son Vijay life in danger. Vijay, deeply hurt by his father’s decision, starts to doubt his father’s love for him. After that, begins the strained relationship between father and son. Throughout the film, Dilip Kuma’s chemistry with the son and wife has kept the audience engaged as he is caught up between, wife, son and his duty, Dilip Kumar portrays all the emotions of love, misunderstanding, honesty, bravery and life lesson with ease.
Dilip Kumar is known for his charismatic, versatile, natural and sensitive acting. He has excelled the acting by portraying various emotions in his movies effortlessly. Though, Dilip Kumar, a legend died at the age of 98, on 7th July 2021. He has left us with his legacy of brilliant memorable films which will continue to influence, inspire and educate coming generations. He will always be remembered, loved and live in the hearts of his million fans through his unforgettable outstanding work.
Contributor: Sonal Srivastava
About our Writing Program Student
A simple yet strong and emotional girl, Sonal a fitness enthusiast firmly believes in healthy living. She loves travelling and exploring new places and being a foodie, loves to cook! For her, spending time and energy reading, listening to music, watching movies with friends and family is a an investment of a lifetime.