How Devika Rani gave Yusuf Khan a breakthrough and made him Dilip Kumar with a salary of Rs 1000

Bollywood idol Dilip Kumar's debut film "Jwar Bhata" (1944) happened by a quirk of fate, if a new book on the life and times of the legendary actor is to be believed.

Devika Rani, superstar of the era, and filmmaker Amiya Chakrabarty were location hunting in Nainital when Dilip Kumar, then Yusuf Khan, happened to be at the hill station too, on a business deal. On a chance meeting, Devika Rani was impressed by Yusuf's handsome Pathani frame. Giving him her card, Devika Rani asked Yusuf to meet her once he returned to Mumbai.

Soon, Yusuf had landed up in front of Devika Rani and Amiya Chakrabarty, giving a screen test for their upcoming film, according to Trinetra Bajpai and Anshula Bajpai's book, "Dilip Kumar: Peerless Icon Inspiring Generations" (publisher: Bloomsbury).

Initially, Kumar helped out in the story-writing and scripting department because of his proficiency in Urdu language. Devika Rani requested him to change his name to Dilip Kumar, and later cast him in a lead role for Jwar Bhata (1944), which marked Kumar's entry into the Hindi film industry. He was paid a monthly salary of Rs 1000 plus Rs 200 as war allowance -- a princely sum back in the day -- to work in the film.

In fact, in his early years, Dveika Rani, who was a powerful name in Bollywood back then, ensured Dilip Kumar had the right grooming to become a star.

While it may not have been a box-office success, it gave Hindi cinema, one of its most inspiring talents.

Kumar, known to generations of film-goers as 'tragedy king', had been admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) of Mumbai's Hinduja Hospital, a non-COVID-19 facility, since Tuesday. India’s enduring film legend through the decades, died at a Mumbai hospital on Wednesday after a prolonged illness, his family and doctors treating him said. He was 98.

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