New Delhi: The larger than life icon of the Hindi film industry who has inspried superstars like Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan turns 84 on Monday.
Dilip Kumar may be the doyen of Bollywood today, but his start was a humble one. The King of Tragedy who made tear-jerkers popular was born in Peshawar (now in Pakistan) as Yusuf Khan.
He moved to Maharashtra and started life as an assistant in an army canteen, after which he set up his own fruit stall and soon decided to change his name to name to Dilip Kumar.
It was perhaps the name change which brought him the much needed luck for his first break in Hindi cinema came soon after with Devika Rani casting him as the hero in Jwar Bhatta (1944).
After a brief dry spell, Dilip Kumar came back in 1947 with the superhit flick Jugnu> opposite Noor Jehan. The success of Mela set off a chain reaction with the thespian being cast as the doomed lover in flims like Babul, Andaaz, Udan Khatola, Devdas, Deedar and the evergreen Mughal-e-Azam.
He married Saira Banu, who was 22 years his junior in 1966 and was at the peak of his career having given three of his career's biggest hits in that decade - Mughal-e-Azam, Ganga Jamuna and Ram Aur Shyam.
However, the seventies saw a decline in his career chart and he decided to take a break only to come back with thumping hits like Ramesh Sippy's Shakti and Manoj Kumar's Kranti in the eighties.
Interestingly enough Dilip Kumar turned down three of the greatest roles in cinema during his time -- Guru Dutt's role in Pyaasa, 20th Century Fox's The Rains Came and David Leans Lawrence of Arabia - a role which ultimately went to Omar Shariff.
On his 84th birthday the actor feels that he has no regrets -- though his directorial venture Kalinga is still to be released. However, he says that his innings with Hindi cinema is not over yet and people should watch out for him.