Dilip Kumar death: star dies aged 98 as Bollywood mourns loss of 'cinematic legend'

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other famous actors were quick to pay tribute to the acting 'legend'

Dilip Kumar, often referred to as the tragedy king of Bollywood or the "First Khan", has died aged 98.

"With a heavy heart and profound grief, I announce the passing away of our beloved Dilip Saab, few minutes ago," family friend Faisal Farooqui wrote on Kumar's Twitter account early on Wednesday morning. "We are from God and to Him we return."

Dr Jalil Parkar, who was reportedly treating Kumar, told local media that the Indian actor, producer and philanthropist died because of a prolonged illness, while doctors have been quoted as saying he had advanced prostate cancer, which had spread to other organs.

Kumar, whose real name was Mohammed Yusuf Khan, was admitted to hospital on June 30, after he complained of breathlessness. He had been regularly ill for months.

His wife, Saira Banu, also a prominent actress, wrote on Twitter on Monday: "We are grateful for God's infinite mercy on Dilip Sahib that his health is improving. We are still in hospital and request your prayers and duas so that Insha’Allah he is healthy and discharged soon."

Kumar, who was born in Peshawar, Pakistan in 1922, was working in the film industry since 1944, when he starred in his first feature film, a romantic drama called Jwar Bhata.

With 66 acting credits to his name on IMDb, his career spanned five decades and included popular roles in several beloved films, such as action-adventure comedy Kohinoor, musical drama Gunga Jumna and musical romance Devdas, to name a few.

He was last seen on the big screen in family drama Qila , in which he played both lead roles of twin brothers, Jagannath Singh and Amarnath Singh, in 1998.

Credited as the first method actor in India, Kumar also holds the Guinness World Record for winning the largest number of awards by an Indian actor.

'A cinematic legend'

Bollywood stars were quick to pay tribute to Kumar on social media. "An institution has gone," wrote Amitabh Bachchan on Twitter. "Whenever the history of Indian cinema will be written, it shall always be 'before Dilip Kumar, and after Dilip Kumar'. My duas for peace of his soul and the strength to the family to bear this loss. Deeply saddened."

Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, also paid his respects. "Dilip Kumar Ji will be remembered as a cinematic legend," he wrote on Twitter. "He was blessed with unparalleled brilliance, due to which audiences across generations were enthralled. His passing away is a loss to our cultural world. Condolences to his family, friends and innumerable admirers. RIP."

Indian actor Siddharth Suryanarayan, known mononymously as Siddharth, wrote: "One of the greatest actors the world has ever known has left us. A giant tree has fallen. I pray for the soul of legend #DilipKumar sahab. I also pray today's generation learns about and celebrates him. He is forever."

Kumar is survived by his wife. The couple had no children, although he has a nephew, Ayub Khan, who is also an actor and son of Kumar's late brother, actor Nasir Khan.

Updated: July 7th 2021, 6:29 AM
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