Dilip Kumar death: Legendary Bollywood actor and ‘tragedy king’ dies aged 98

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Indian Bollywood film actor Dilip Kumar (L) and his wife Saira Banu pose on the red carpet at a film premiere in 2012 (AFP via Getty Images)
Indian Bollywood film actor Dilip Kumar (L) and his wife Saira Banu pose on the red carpet at a film premiere in 2012 (AFP via Getty Images)

The legendary Indian actor Dilip Kumar died on Wednesday morning after a prolonged illness. He was 98. Known as the tragedy king of Bollywood, the actor is survived by his wife and veteran film actor Saira Banu.

Kumar, born Yusuf Khan, was admitted to the Hinduja hospital in Mumbai city on 30 June after he complained of breathing issues.

Faisal Farooqui, a family friend, took to the actor’s Twitter handle to announce his death. “With a heavy heart and profound grief, I announce the passing away of our beloved Dilip Saab, few minutes ago,” he wrote. “We are from God and to Him we return,” he added.

Soon after the news of his death, tributes to the actor started pouring in.

“Dilip Kumar Ji will be remembered as a cinematic legend. He was blessed with unparalleled brilliance, due to which audiences across generations were enthralled,” wrote India’s prime minister Narendra Modi. “His passing away is a loss to our cultural world. Condolences to his family, friends and innumerable admirers. RIP.”

“My heartfelt condolences to the family, friends & fans of Dilip Kumar ji. His extraordinary contribution to Indian cinema will be remembered for generations to come,” wrote Rahul Gandhi, former president of the main opposition Congress party.

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Amitabh Bachchan, one of Bollywood’s most popular stars, offered his condolences. “An institution has gone... whenever the history of Indian cinema will be written, it shall always be before Dilip Kumar, and after Dilip Kumar,” he said in a tweet.

Another veteran Bollywood actor and a close friend of Kumar’s, Dharmendra, expressed shock over the death of his friend. “I am extremely shocked... I used to go and keep watching his house before I became an actor. Watching him used to feel like I have been on hajj or some pilgrimage after watching him,” he said in an interview to news channel NDTV.

“To the world many others may be heroes. To us actors, he was The Hero. #DilipKumar Sir has taken an entire era of Indian cinema away with him. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. Om Shanti,” wrote actor Akshay Kumar.

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Born to Ayesha Begum and Lala Gulam Sarwar Khan on 11 December 1922 in Peshawar, located in present-day Pakistan, Kumar debuted in 1944 in the film Jwar Bhata. Regarded as one of the finest actors in Indian cinema, he went on to work in over 65 films in a career spanning over five decades. He was last seen in the 1998 film Qila.

While his debut film largely went unnoticed, it was his 1947 film Jugnu that brought him his first box office success. He went on to star in films like Mughal-e-Azam, Devdas, Gunga Jamuna, Ram Aur Shyam and Naya Daur, all of which are regarded as classics of Bollywood cinema.

Credited for his method acting, he was the first actor to win a Filmfare Award in the Best Actor category, after the awards were introduced in 1954. The actor, along with Shah Rukh Khan, holds the record of winning eight Filmfare Awards.

He was also honoured with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1994, India’s highest award in the field of cinema, presented annually at the National Film Awards. And in 2015 the actor was given the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian award.

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