From Yusuf Khan to Dilip Kumar

Ameer Tarin 16-07-2021

The Lady-Luck immensely favourable, the super star of her time Devika Rani spotted Yusuf Khan, a Pathan from Peshawar and persuaded him to try his luck in films. She graciously offered him few filmi names like Vasu Dev and Dilip Kumar to start his career. Yusuf Khan destined to succeed accepted the latter title and in all respects the name Yusuf Khan from thenceforth was consigned to history.

Dilip Kumar with ups and downs soon became a household name and an icon of the Bombay film industry. From an average middle class family he struggled and rose to stardom offering him riches, fame and respect. Privileged to be sought after and appreciated for his performances by common people, top politicians, academicians, and learned people of India and abroad made him all time great of Indian cinema. A very imposing figure would dominate any gathering with his astute manipulation of literary skills, knowledge and remarkable acumen.   

Dilip Kumar’s youth was no different from any normal young individual of planet earth. Apart from relationship with his co-star Kamini Kaushal and later with lady Asma, his life remained unblemished devoid of any controversy. The intuitive understanding of art, culture, poetry, fluency and command over several languages particularly Urdu and English would keep audience spell-bound.

On several occasions Dilip Kumar received divinely ordained opportunities to become an undisputed political leader of three hundred million leaderless Muslims of India. It was a matter of grabbing the chance to create history like Imran Khan of Pakistan who used his cricketing skills to become a hero of the Indian sub-continent. Imran Khan remained focused, took his chances and in the end marched forward to become Prime Minister of Pakistan and now a recognised world leader.

With Pandit Nehru

A charismatic film actor was a darling of Prime Ministers of India from Pandit Nehru down to AB Vajpayee. He was treated with respect for his patriotic performances carrying around Indian tri-colour in films or in the real life. Dilip Kumar superbly played roles as a devout Hindu in many films appreciated mainly by majority Hindu population of India.

The stage was set for him to become a political leader of a big majority of Indian Muslims and to start with, in 1990’s the party chief of AIMIM (All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen) late Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi offered Dilip Kumar platform to start a political career on Indian national level. There was also a follow up and pursuance of the cherished objective by Owaisi brothers (Asaduddin & Akbaruddin) but Dilip Kumar backed out and showed no interest for reasons unknown.

From 1947 onwards, the independent India worked hard to become a democratic and secular country and up to the times of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee tampering with the secular image would be risky and very costly for India. India’s political relations with the Arab and the Muslim world created conducive political environment for Dilip Kumar to launch himself as a political leader of millions of deprived and downtrodden Muslims.

Dilip Kumar was nominated to Rajya Sabha by Indian National Congress to represent State of Maharashtra, the upper house of Indian parliament from 2000 to 2006. The thespian of Indian cinema received the Padma Bhushan award in 1991 followed by another award Padma Vibhushan in 2015. In Rajya Sabha, Dilip Kumar would eloquently quote verses from Quran to express his viewpoint leaving an impact especially on the minds of Muslim populace of India.

In the year 1998 the legendary actor of the sub-continent was honoured by Pakistan with the highest civilian award Nishan-e-Imtiaz. The award from Pakistan was met with a backlash from India’s right-wing parties led by Bal Thaekeray of Shiv Sena. However, BJP Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee came to Dilip Kumar’s rescue and defended his right to accept the award.

Dilip Kumar meets Gaffar Gandhi of NWFP

Dilip Kumar led the aid marketing campaign during the communal riots in Bombay when thousands of households were vandalised, razed and inundated with killings, loot and plunder. Dilip Kumar swung in action to offer his helping hand for rehabilitating the uprooted in planned communal riots. As always active in social work Dilip was appointed as Sheriff of Bombay from 1979 to 1982.

In the year 1998, in a vicious homophobic attack, the rightwing Shiv Sena assembled outside Dilip Kumar’s Pali Hill Bungalow in large numbers, stripped down their pants dancing frenziedly to punish him for supporting a banned film considered by the crowd to be obscene. But within a short time Dilip’s fans gathered in huge numbers to defend and protect his life and property. The local govt; sensing the deteriorating law and order situation brought things under control and the violent rioters got dispersed. It is widely believed that Dilip Kumar did have the potential to represent and lead India’s over three hundred million Muslims to organize and unite them to fight for their legitimate rights. But it seems destiny had something else in store for Muslims of India who never expected BJP to sideline Vajpayee’s legacy and promote Hindutva ideology of Nathu Ram Godse.


Hours after his demise, Haryana BJP leader Arun Yadav in his tweet chose to hit him hard by saying “The death of Mohammad Yusuf Khan (Dilip Kumar), who earned money by keeping a Hindu name in the film world, is an irreparable loss to the Indian film industry!”

Dilip Kumar had squarely compromised with the fact that India was rapidly losing its grip on the envisaged concept of secular ideology and was heading for chaos, unrest and violence. The thinking was reminiscent of what India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Nehru said on July 6, 1951 “People seem to forget that Kashmir is not a commodity for sale or to be bartered. It has an individual existence and its people must be the final arbiters of their future and further stated, if we did anything of the kind our government would not last many days and there would be no peace. It would lead to war with Pakistan because of public opinion here and war-like elements (reference to RSS-BJP nexus) coming in control of our policy.”

Dilip Kumar, as all know, had a special relationship with Kashmir and Kashmir in spite of the hardships faced on daily basis is in mourning and prays for Yusuf Khan’s soul to rest in peace.