Dilip Kumar, one of the finest actors India as ever produced, turns 94 today. Also known as Bollywood’s tragedy king due to the near perfection with which he portrayed death scenes, Kumar in his four-decade long film career essayed varied roles. Be it Naya Daur’s humble tongawallah Shankar, a dejected Devdas, Karma’s revengeful Dada Thakur or Shakti’s principled cop Ashwini Kumar, Dilip Kumar has earned widespread accolades in his film career.
On his birthday, we bring to you nine of his finest films which you should watch this Sunday. These are some of my favourites and I am sure you will like it too.
1. Mughal-e-Azam: Directed by K Asif, this 1960 historical drama is often regarded as one of the iconic films produced in India ever. Featuring Prithviraj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and Madhubala, the film chronicles the love affair between Mughal prince Salim and court danseuse Anarkali, much to the displeasure of Mughal emperor Akbar (Kapoor). Kumar’s performance earned him a lot of accolades across the country and his confrontation scene with his on-screen father is still remembered.
2. Devdas: Years before Shah Rukh Khan serenaded Aishwarya Rai in Devdas, Dilip Kumar had already done so in the 1955 Bimal Roy directorial venture. The role won Kumar a Filmfare Award for Best Actor and the fans an iconic film which would be remade in years to come. If you were swooned by SRK reciting the ‘Kaun kambakht bardasht karne ko peeta hai’ dialogue, the same lines spoken by Dilip Kumar will leave you awestruck and pained as well.
3. Naya Daur: How many times have you crooned the famous song ‘Udein Jab Jab Zulfein Teri’ for your lady love. Dilip Kumar did it for the gorgeous Vyjayanthimala in the 1957-superhit film Naya Daur. The jovial tongawallah Shankar played by Kumar, as I have been told by elders, left the ladies of those times awestruck. You cannot miss this film by the iconic actor.
4. Ganga Jamuna: Ganga Jamuna is another film featuring Dilip Kumar which turned out to be very successful. An ensemble cast featuring Vyjayanthimala and Nazir Hussain, the film dealt with sibling rivalry due to unfavourable circumstances. Kumar played a dacoit Ganga, who takes up arms after being framed in a false theft case. The film earned him a Filmfare Award as well. And not to forget, the film also featured a melodious number by Mohammad Rafi. Watch it yourself.
5. Shakti: When two biggest superstars share screen space together, the film is expected to create a lot of buzz. It happened in 1982 when Dilip Kumar and then reigning superstar Amitabh Bachchan played father and son respectively in Shakti. Playing a principled police officer to an errant son played by Bachchan, Kumar earned rave reviews for his brilliant performance. The epic face-off scene involving the father-son duo is unforgettable.
6. Kranti: Come 1980s and ageing Dilip Kumar resorted to playing character roles. But he always outshone the others with his impeccable dialogue delivery. Set in the backdrop of British rule, 1981-film Kranti marked a major turning point in the veteran actor’s career. A multi-starrer venture comprising director Manoj Kumar, Shashi Kapoor, Hema Malini and Shatrughan Sinha, the film established the patriotic persona of Kumar who played a fiery freedom fighter Sanga.
7. Saudaagar: We often sing the famous song ‘Imli Ka Boota, Beri Ka Ped’ with our friends. But who immortalised this song? It was none other than Dilip Kumar who along with Raj Kumar who celebrated their friendship in 1991-blockbuster Saudaagar. The film turned out to be a silver jubilee hit and director Subhash Ghai got the only Filmfare award of his career.
8. Karma: When Dilip Kumar turns angry. The entire nation hears the ‘goonj’ (echo) of his ‘thappad'(slap). Baddie Anupam Kher as Dr Dang learnt it when tough cop Dilip Kumar slapped him for misbehaving with prison officials in 1986 film Karma. If you are a true patriot, you will love the veteran actor who vows to eliminate Dr Dang who wipes out his entire family in a daring prison break. And not to forget the popular song ‘Dil Diya Hai Jaan Bhi Denge’.
9. Ram Aur Shyam: The story revolving identical twins separated at birth is not new in Bollywood. Dilip Kumar played twins Ram and Shyam and surprised all with his comic timing. The film also featured Waheeda Rehman, Mumtaz and Pran. Kumar won the Filmfare Award for his performance.