Dilip Kumar: Indians, Pakistanis pay tributes to Bollywood icon

Kumar, 98, was one of Indian cinema’s most respected actors and starred in nearly 60 films in a career spanning 50 years.

Dilip kumar, Bollywood actor
Dilip Kumar hugs Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan at an awards ceremony in Singapore in 2004 [File: Ahmad Masood AM/Reuters]

Tributes are pouring in from Indian and Pakistani actors, politicians, sports personalities and even an animal rights group after iconic Bollywood veteran Dilip Kumar died aged 98.

“Dilip Kumar … will be remembered as a cinematic legend,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter, shortly after the legendary actor died early on Wednesday morning.

“He was blessed with unparalleled brilliance, due to which audiences across generations were enthralled. His passing away is a loss to our cultural world.”

Indian President Ram Nath Kovind said: “Dilip Kumar summarised in himself a history of emerging India. The thespian’s charm transcended all boundaries, and he was loved across the subcontinent. With his demise, an era ends.”

Kumar would “live forever in the heart of India”, Kovind added.

India’s main opposition politician Rahul Gandhi said Kumar’s “extraordinary contribution to Indian cinema will be remembered for generations to come”.

Born Mohammed Yusuf Khan in 1922 in Peshawar – now part of Pakistan – Kumar became a popular actor in Indian cinema’s golden age between the 1940s and 1960s, starring in nearly 60 films in a career spanning 50 years.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was “saddened” by the news.

“I can never forget his generosity in giving his time to help raise funds for SKMTH [Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research] … his appearance in [Pakistan] and London helped raise huge amounts,” Khan said on Twitter.

Amitabh Bachchan, Bollywood’s most popular actor, called Kumar his “idol” and said on Twitter: “An epic era has drawn curtains … Never to happen again.”

“An institution has gone. Whenever the history of Indian cinema will be written, it shall always be ‘before Dilip Kumar, and after Dilip Kumar’,” Bachchan added.

Akshay Kumar, another of modern Bollywood’s biggest luminaries, said: “To us actors, he was The Hero. #DilipKumar Sir has taken an entire era of Indian cinema away with him. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

The veteran actor enjoyed a following across the Indian subcontinent and among the global diaspora.

Former Pakistan cricket captain Shahid Afridi said his death was a “huge loss” for his fans in Pakistan, Mumbai “and across the globe”.

“He lives on in our hearts,” Afridi added.

India cricket captain, Virat Kohli, who is in England to lead the national Test squad for a series against the hosts, said, “Today, an icon who was loved by generations passes away. Rest in peace Dilip ji. My condolences to the family.”

Dilip Kumar’s wife Saira Banu, wearing a blue mask in the centre, mourns near his body at a hospital in Mumbai [Rafiq Maqbool/AP Photo]

Sachin Tendulkar, the country’s batting legend, also offered his “heartfelt condolences” to Kumar’s family: “There will never be another like you.”

“Your contribution to Indian cinema is unparalleled and you’ll be missed dearly,” he posted on Twitter.

Animal rights pressure group PETA India offered its condolences too, saying “animals everywhere have lost a great friend”.

The organisation said Kumar had helped it enact a ban on the entry of elephants into Mumbai, “sparing them violence and cruelty and ensuring the safety of Mumbai’s human residents”.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies