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Dilip Kumar; an all-rounder artist: From playing football to being a sandwich seller, lesser-known facts of the legendary actor


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Dilip Kumar

Dilip Kumar might have left for the heavenly abode but his gold standard in acting, his quest for perfection, and sheer versatility continue to inspire a generation of actors for perfection, trademark quiet delivery of dialogues. Also known as Yusuf Saab, here are some of the lesser-known facts of the celebrated actor.

His voice, not for the camera

Dilip Kumar had such a soft and subtle way of dialogue delivery that even microphones were not able to catch. But this was not adapted for the camera, he indeed was very soft-spoken in real life. He credits his parents pointing for his gently, understated manner as they too were extremely soft-spoken.

Raj Kapoor spotted a star

Raj Kumar and Yusuf Khan aka Dilip Kumar went to the same college (Khalsa College) and were close to each other. It was Raj Kumar who himself was trying to get into the glitz world told Yusuf that can be a star and in terms of strict historical accuracy, Dilip Kumar is his biggest discovery.

Football before Cinema

Not everyone known Dilip Kumar aspired to be a football player before he started a career in cinema. His father although wanted him to focus on chess. But Kumar became the secretary of his school’s football association but destiny had other plans in store for him.

Dilip Kumar, jack of all trades

Dilip Kumar was an all-rounder artist. He sang once on screen “Lagi nahin chhote rama kahe jiya jai” for Musafir. His found was very similar to that of Talat Mahmood, who would often play back in his films. But even before singing and acting he was hired as a scriptwriter by Devika Rani for Bombay Talkies at Rs 1,250 per month.

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But first, he started with selling sandwiches at Pune. He saved up a princely sum of Rs 5,000 before heading back home.

He even had a knack for fixing things in his house like a refrigerator rack to a shoe rack. Once he was even found perusing cockroaches with a spray gun according to better half Saira Banu.

Dilip Kumar could speak multiple languages from Hindi, Punjabi, English, Bengali, Marathi, Gujrati to Pashto, Urdu, Persian. He had a keen eye for diction and even gave Mohammad Rafi lessons for it.

Taking over Filmfares like a boss and other awards

Dilip Kumar is the first actor to receive a Filmfare Awar as the Best Actor for Daag. He took home the black lady eight times and three times in a row for Azaad, Devdas and Naya Daur. His last Filmfare nomination was in 1992 for Saudagar.

Not just the highest civilian awards in India, Kumar won Pakistan’s award, Nishan-e-Imtiaz during the tension torn 1990s. Although criticised, he received the award and only India receive so.

Could have been Chanakya

Dilip Kumar was signed for a BR Chopra project where he was roped in for the role of Chanakya in the mid-seventies. It also featured Dharmendra as Chandragupta and Kabir Bedi as Greek Seleucus. But the much-hyped film was later shelved.

Dilip Kumar breathed his last on July 07. He was wrapped in tricolour and cremated with state honours.


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Bellie Brown
Bellie Brown
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