Acting legend Dilip Kumar died at 6.30 am on Wednesday in Mumbai. He was 98, and had been dealing with age-related ailments for several years. He is survived by his wife, the actor Saira Banu.
In six decades and over 60 films, Dilip Kumar played a range of characters with singular sensitivity, from the alcoholic Devdas to the dacoit Ganga. He inspired generations of filmmakers and actors. Some of his movies – Andaaz, Deedar, Devdas, Jogan, Madhumati, Naya Daur, Gunga Jumna, Aan, Mughal-E-Azam, Ram Aur Shyam, Shakti, Mashaal – are ranked among the classics of Hindi cinema.
Doctors at Hinduja hospital, where Kumar was admitted for the last 15 days, said that the actor suffered from advanced prostate cancer, which had spread to other organs of his body, reported The Indian Express.
“He had water in the pleural cavity [space between two membranes in the lungs], and he suffered kidney failure,” a doctor said. “He required blood transfusion multiple times. We carried out the last transfusion but it did not help.”
Kumar had been bedridden for several months. He had become unresponsive in the last few days, according to the doctor. “The fluids accumulated in the pleural cavity had to be removed several times,” the doctor said. “The cancer spread made it difficult to treat him.”
Pulmonologist Dr Jalil Parkar, one of the doctors treating the actor, condoled his death. “I wished he was with us till he was 100, but God has snatched him away from us,” Parkar said. “Saira ji took immense care of him during his illness.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the actor’s death was a loss to the cultural world.
He was born Mohammad Yusuf Khan on December 11, 1922, in Peshawar. His screen name was suggested by Devika Rani, who cast him in his first movie Jwar Bhata in 1944. Alongside acting in and producing movies, Kumar ghost-directed some of his projects, including Nitin Bose’s Ganga Jumna (1961), a film about two brothers on the opposite sides of the law.
Following a string of failures in the 1970s, the actor took a five-year break. He returned in the 1980s with multi-starrer Kranti (1981), and going on to play a series of authority figures in such films as Vidhaata (1982), Shakti (1982), Karma (1986) and Mashaal (1984). His final screen appearance was in Qila in 1998.
Dilip Kumar won a slew of awards for his roles. He was awarded the Padma Bhusan and Padma Vibhushan. The Pakistani government conferred him with its highest civilian award, the Nishan-e-Imtiaz, in 1998 – a recognition of his roots in undivided India and his appeal across the subcontinent.