Ashok Kumar – An Exponent of Pure & Natural Acting

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He resisted typecasting and played heroes and villains with equal conviction. He was one of the first anti-heroes of Indian Cinema with his role in the film Kismet (1943). This movie went on to create a record for the highest grossing film in India at the time of its release. Ashok Kumar, whose real name was Kumudlal Kunjilal Ganguly, was born on October 13, 1911, in Bhagalpur, a small town in Bihar to which his ancestors had migrated from the neighbouring state of Bengal. Although born into a well-to-do landowning family of Bengali landlords, he attained eminence in the Hindi language. He showed greater interest in laboratory work, it was this which brought him to Bombay in 1934. His acting career started accidentally with ‘Jeevan Naiya'(1936). The original choice of actor and actress of the film – Najam-ul-Hussain and Devika Rani eloped. It was during this time that the director decided to rope in his good looking lab assistant to take the place of his male lead. Devika Rani came back later to resume shooting. But it was Achhut Kannya (1936) with Devika Rani which gave him much awaited recognition and made people take notice of him.

He took immense trouble to learn dialogue and think himself into each role. This was in contrast to his contemporaries. He was a remarkable actor. Ashok Kumar, fondly known as Dadamoni, is one of the most versatile and iconic actors of all times. Dadamoni meant jewel of an older brother, which became true of him. He was a man with a magnetic aura and effervescent personality. The eldest of Ganguly brothers, Ashok Kumar was followed by his two other brothers, Kishore kumar and Anoop kumar, in the film industry. With his classic Bengali looks and his phenomenal talent, he became the face of the 40’s and 50’s. Adding to his charisma was the meaningful roles he played in films like Achhut Kanya, Mahal, Deedar, Howrah Bridge, Parineeta, Chalti ka Naam Gaadi, Kanoon, Bandini, Meri Surat Terii Aankhein, Bahu Begum, Aashirwad, Chhoti si Baat, Khatta Meetha, Mr. India and several others.

Apart from being a fabulous actor, Ashok Kumar was also an excellent painter. But his painting skills never got the limelight it deserved. Apart from painting, he also used to practise homeopathy.

He acted in fewer films in the 1980s and 1990s and occasionally appeared on television, most famously anchoring the first Indian soap opera Hum Log and appearing as the title character in the unforgettable Bahadur Shah Zafar. He was the first actor to get the tag of “Super Hero” in Indian film industry. His contribution towards Indian Cinema is commendable and unforgettable. He was honoured in 1988 with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, the highest national award for cinema artists, by the Government of Indiaand also received the Padma Bhushan the same year in 1998 for his contributions to Indian cinema.

We remember the legendary actor by sharing a documentary on him. In this documentary he takes through his journey in the Indian Film Industry in his own words. The actor from the Golden era shares his experiences and rare interviews associated with films.

Avid music lover and Dev Anand fan


  1. Antara NM

    October 13, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    Very well written tribute to a Colossus of Indian cinema. Ashok Kumar was the first hero to play an anti-hero and make it an all-time blockbuster – Kismet. From the doting father to the scheming Jewel Thief, he played all kinds of roles and with equal finesse. Well done Deepa Buty… Loved reading your tribute.
    – Antara

    • bkbirla

      October 14, 2015 at 6:47 pm

      Thanks a lot

    • Deepa Buty

      October 14, 2015 at 6:57 pm

      Thanks a lot Antara!!! Ashok Kumar was such a brilliant actor, he has left a huge legacy for us!

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