In the ’30s when Indian Cinema was in its cradle Bombay Talkies brought a revolution in Hindi cinema changing its content, style, and grammar of filmmaking. The huge success of Bombay Talkies‘ second film Achhut Kanya (1936) established it lead actor Ashok Kumar as the loveable heartthrob of cine-buffs. Soon Ashok Kumar delivered a series of super hit films like Jeevan Naiya, Kangan, Bandhan, Jhoola, etc. opposite Devika Rani, the bewitchingly beautiful top actress of the Jodi. The Jodi of the duo became akin to the hit pair of Dharmendra and Hema Malini or Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha etc.
In the ’40s Ashok Kumar‘s career reached the zenith of stardom as his film Kismet (1943) directed by Gyan Mukherjee became a box-office blockbuster. The film for the first time depicted a tale of an anti-hero. The film was such a hit that it collected one crore rupees becoming the first Indian film to set up the ‘crore club’. After Kismet, Ashok Kumar became a Star and the highest-paid star of the ’40s!
Ashok Kumar‘s real name was Kumudlal Ganguly he was born on October 13 in the year 1911. Ashok Kumar started as a lab assistant at the Bombay Talkies. He was made hero by Himanshu Rai without Kumar‘s aspiration. But the success of his films forced him to carry as an actor. Later, he watched Hollywood films and worked hard on his speech, diction, and mannerism. Soon he rose to be one of the finest character actors that Bollywood. From hero to anti-hero to character roles he did each role with perfection.
Ashok Kumar also turned a producer at the Bombay Talkies and made hit films like Ziddi (1948) and Mahal (1949). For Aashirwad (1968) he earned the National Film Award of his life. His other remarkable films were Parineeta, Bandini, Jewel Thief, Victoria No. 203, Chhoti Si Baat, Khatta Meetha and Khoobsurat.
From 1936 to 1997 -, he worked non-stop for 60 years. In the 1980s and 1990s, he appeared on TV. He anchored the first Indian soap opera Hum Log and did the title character in the unforgettable Bahadur Shah Zafar.
Ashok Kumar‘s last film role was in the 1997 movie Aankhon Mein Tum Ho. Towards his end, he was lovingly called Dadamoni! The government of India saluted him with Dadasaheb Phalke Award and Padma Bhushan in 1998 for his contribution to Indian cinema.
He died on 10 December 2001 at the ripe age of 90.