B.H.Harsh wrote on 11 Aug 2008
Ashok Kumar (Kumudlal Kunjlal Ganguli) was born on October 13, Bhagalpur. He was brought up in Khandwa, a small town in Madhya Pradesh. When Ashok Kumar grew up, he went to Calcutta to study law at Presidency College. Soon, Ashok Kumar went to Bombay and joined Shashadhar Mukherjee as a laboratory assistant at Bombay Talkies.
Ashok Kumar got his first break when Devika Rani chose him to act in Jeevan Naiyya (1936). Then Ashok Kumar became a permanent hero of Bombay Talkies’ films with Achhut Kanya (1936), which was a grand success in those days. He acted in a few more films like Savitri (1937), Izzat (1937), Nirmala (1938), Bandhan (1940) and Anjaan (1941).
Ashok Kumar attained stardom with Kismet (1943), a suspense thriller which went on to become one of the biggest hits ever in Hindi cinema. Ashok Kumar’s next big hit was Mahal (1949). With great music and suspense value, Mahal too was a big hit and made Ashok Kumar the biggest star of his times.
Throughout the 50s, 60s and 70s, Ashok Kumar was unarguably the most famous actor of Hindi films. He did an anti-hero role in Sangram (1950), which was banned in its 16th week for sending out wrong messages. His performance in Howrah Bridge (1958) was appreciated a lot. Ashok Kumar kicked off the 60s with a power-packed performance in Yash Chopra’s Kanoon (1960). This film yet again proved Ashok Kumar’s acting prowess.
Ashok Kumar’s most famous roles were in Aarti (1962), Rakhi (1962), Gumrah (1963) and Bandini (1963), where he was very impressive. In late 60s, Ashok Kumar neatly switched to playing character roles. However, His performance as the protagonist in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Aashirwaad (1968) won him all the accolades. But Ashok Kumar most suited the father roles by now, and he carried them the best. His roles in Victoria No. 203 (1972), Choti Si Baat (1975), Khatta Meetha (1978) and Khoobsurat (1980) are remembered till date.
In the 80s, Ashok Kumar cut down on his films to large extent. He instead concentrated on his TV serial Hum Log. He also played the title role in another soap opera “Bahadur Shah Jafar.” With time, Ashok Kumar stopped doing films. His last film was Aankhon Mein Tum Ho (1997).
On December 10, 2001, Ashok Kumar passed away and an era came to an end in Hindi cinema. Ashok Kumar won 4 Filmfare awards – Best actor for Rakhi (1963), Best Supporting Actor for Afsana (1966), Best Actor for Aashirwaad (1968), Lifetime achievement award in 1996. He also won a National award for Best actor for Aashirwaad (1968). He also won Dada Saheb Phalke award in 1988.
Ashok Kumar had there daughters. Actor-singer Kishore Kumar and actor Anoop Kumar are his younger brothers, while actress Preeti Ganguli is his daughter. Actor Deven Varma is his son-in-law and actress Anuradha Patel is his grand-daughter. Ashok Kumar was also a fine painter, and also knew homeopathy.