Dilip Kumar, the undisputed ‘Tragedy King’ of the silver screen, was born as Muhammad Yusuf Khan in an Awan family. The actor opted for a screen name at the request of producer Devika Rani. He later gave him the lead role in the film ‘Jwar Bhata’ in 1944.
In his autobiography, Dilip Kumar: The Substance and the Shadow, the veteran actor revealed many hidden aspects of his life, including changing his name from Muhammad Yusuf Khan to Dilip Kumar.
He wrote, “She (Devika Rani) said, quite matter-of-factly: ‘Yousuf, I was thinking about your launch soon as an actor and I felt it would not be a bad idea if you adopted a screen name. You know, a name you would be known by and which will be very appropriate for your audience to relate to and one that will be in tune with the romantic image you are bound to acquire through your screen presence.
I thought Dilip Kumar was a nice name. It just popped up in my mind when I was thinking about a suitable name for you. How does it sound to you?”
Previously, in an interview with Mahendra Kaul in 1970, Dilip had said the real reason he changed his name was due to ‘pitayi ka darr’ (fear of thrashing) from his father. Dilip Kumar mentioned that his father never liked his acting career and called it ‘nautanki’. His father never appreciated his friend Dewan Basheshwarnath Kapoor’s grandson Raj Kapoor doing films too.
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