Happy Birthday Dilip Kumar: 5 all time best movies of the `Tragedy King`

The legendary actor appeared in 60 films over the course of his five-decade career.

Dilip Kumar, known as ‘Abhinay Samrat’ (The Emperor of Acting), was one of the few actors from the 1950s and 1960s who elevated Indian cinema to new heights with his outstanding performance. Born Mohammad Yusuf Khan in Peshawar, Pakistan, in 1922, the actor changed his real name to ‘Dilip Kumar,’ a name given to him by actress and Bombay Talkies owner Devika Rani. Dilip, known as the father of method acting in Indian cinema, began his career in 1944 with the black and white drama ‘Jwar Bhata.’ His first major hit, ‘Jugnu,’ released in 1947, established him as India’s first and arguably biggest star at the time.

The legendary actor appeared in 60 films over the course of his five-decade career. The unintentional actor, who never imagined himself as an actor as a child, went on to become one of the greatest actors of all time, earning the title of ‘Tragedy King’ after portraying intense and dramatic roles on film. Dilip Saab, the actor whose illustrious legacy is still celebrated and cherished by his fans and cinephiles today, was one of the rarest stars from Bollywood’s Golden Era who inspired actors such as Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and many others. As the eternal superstar celebrates his 100th birthday today, let’s look back at some of his greatest hits.

Naya Daur

Dilip Kumar and Vaijayanti Mala star in the 1957 social drama ‘Naya Daur.’ The film, directed by B.R. Chopra, tells the story of a man named Shankar, a tongawala (played by Dilip Kumar), and how he and his best friend Krishna, a woodcutter, fell in love with a girl named Rajni (Vaijayantimala). Their friendship is marred by misunderstanding, and they eventually become each other’s adversaries. The film attempts to highlight how rich and powerful people oppress people from the poorer sections of society by navigating Shankar’s emotional and economic conflicts. Dilip Kumar won the Filmfare Award for Best Actor for his powerful performance in ‘Naya Daur.’ The film starring Dilip Kumar was later dubbed in Tamil as ‘Pattaliyin Sabatham’. Interestingly, the 2001 Aamir Khan’s blockbuster sports film, ‘Lagaan’ was inspired from ‘Naya Daur’.


This classic 1952 romantic drama stars Dilip Kumar, Nimmi, aka Nawab Bano, Usha Kiran, and Lalita Pawar, among others. ‘Daag’ tells the story of a man named Shankar, played by Dilip Kumar, who is the family’s sole breadwinner and struggles to make ends meet. Overburdened by debt, he begins to drink alcohol, and one day, after an argument with his mother, he leaves home and travels to the city in an attempt to earn money. He falls in love with a girl from his neighbourhood named Parvati (played by Nimmi). He returns home after earning a lot of money and proposes to Nimmi, but he is told that her marriage has been fixed with another guy. Heartbroken Shankar begins drinking once again and turns into a self-destructive person. The legendary actor won the first ever Filmfare Award in the Best Actor category for his phenomenal performance in the film.


Dilip Kumar’s brilliant performance in ‘Devdas’ not only established him as a popular star, but also as a powerful actor who emotes naturally and with ease and flair. The 1955 Bimal Roy film is based on a novella by Saratchandra Chattopadhyay and tells the story of Dilip Kumar’s tragic lover Devdas. ‘Devdas,’ considered one of Dilip Saab’s best films, also stars Suchitra Sen as Parvati (Paro) and Vaijayantimala as the courtesan, Chandramukhi. Forbes named Dilip Saab’s performance in ‘Devdas’ one of the “25 Greatest Acting Performances of Indian Cinema.” The blockbuster romantic drama was remade in 2002 by ace Bollywood actor Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who starred Shah Rukh Khan in the titular role alongside Aishwarya Rai Bachchan as Paro and Madhuri Dixit as Chandramukhi.


 Probably the first film to follow the theme of paranormal romance, ‘Madhumati’ is a masterpiece which was directed by Bimal Roy and starrerd Dilip Kumar and Vaijayantimala in lead roles. The movie narrates the story of a man named Anand (Played by Dilip Kumar), who falls in love with a tribal woman named Madhumati, essayed by Vaijayantimala and how they face challenges in their relationship and eventually comes to know about the story of his previous birth. A one of a kind gothic noir from early Bollywood, ‘Madhumati’ is Dilip Kumar’s is one of the commercially successful and influential films of all time.


This epic Indian drama from 1960 is the pinnacle of grandeur, shedding light on the glory days of Indian cinema’s Golden era. It follows the love affair between Salim and Anarkali, who is a court dancer, and how their love story leads to a war between father and son, starring Prithviraj Kapoor as Emperor Akbar, Dilip Kumar as Prince Salim, and eternally beautiful, Madhubala as Anarkali. The film’s most popular song, ‘Pyar Kiya Toh Darna Kya,’ is still one of the most popular love songs of all time. If you are a Dilip Kumar fan, you must see this film.