The actor was admitted to intensive care last month, and had been suffering from various illnesses in recent years
Bollywood legend Dilip Kumar passed away in Mumbai’s PD Honduja Hospital on Wednesday after being admitted to an intensive care unit on June 30. He was 98.
“With a heavy heart and profound grief, I announce the passing away of our beloved Dilip saab,” Faisal Farooqui, a family friend, posted on the actor’s official Twitter account early on Wednesday morning. “We are from God and to Him we return,” he added.
Born Yusuf Khan in pre-Partition Peshawar on Dec. 11, 1922, Kumar’s father was a fruit-seller who moved his family to Mumbai in the 1930s. He got his big break in acting in 1944 after actress Devika Rani spotted him at his father’s fruit stall and got him a part in Jwar Bhata. Kumar also took on his alias at the time in a bid to keep his career aspirations from his father, who was not a fan of his son abandoning the family business to take up acting.
Following his appearance in Jwar Bhata, Kumar’s next major role was in Milan (1946), which helped establish him as a leading man. Nicknamed “The Tragedy King” for his good looks and penchant for playing tortured roles, Kumar ended up being featured in some of the Indian film industry’s most commercially successful films.
One of Kumar’s most iconic roles was in Mughal-e-Azam, based on the life Emperor Jahangir. Released in 1960, the movie’s production spanned 8 years and cost an exorbitant—for the time—Rs. 15 million. Its lavish sets and timeless storyline helped it gross over Rs. 100 million, one of the highest box office successes of the era.
While Kumar was a bona fide hit in India, he was unable to translate that into international acclaim, rejecting a role in Lawrence of Arabia, which ended up going to Egyptian actor Omar Sharif.
Kumar’s Bollywood roles grew sparser later in life, as younger actors emerged in the 1970s and 80s. In 1998, his life took a turn, with him entering politics and making an end to the feud between India and Pakistan part of his policy. The same year, he was awarded the Nishan-e-Imtiaz, Pakistan’s highest civilian honor, angering Hindu nationalists. In 2000, he was elected to parliament on a then-opposition Congress party seat.
In 2006 he was conferred a lifetime achievement award at India’s National Film Awards in recognition of his contribution to Indian cinema.
Kumar is survived by his wife, Saira Banu, who was also a popular Bollywood star during the 1960s and 1970s.
News of Kumar’s passing provoked an outpouring of condolences from Bollywood celebrities, politicians and fans. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a posting on Twitter, said Kumar would be remembered as a “cinematic legend” and his passing was a “loss to our cultural world.”
Prime Minister Imran Khan also expressed his sorrow at Kumar’s passing. “Saddened to learn of Dilip Kumar’s passing. I can never forget his generosity in giving his time to help raise funds for SKMTH [Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust Hospital] when project launched. This is the most difficult time—to raise first 10% of the funds and his appearance in Pakistan and London helped raise huge amounts,” he said in a posting on Twitter. “Apart from this, for my generation Dilip Kumar was the greatest and most versatile actor,” he added.