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Monday, 10 December, 2001, 16:29 GMT
Bollywood star Ashok Kumar dies
Poster for Kismet
Some of Ashok Kumar's film became cinema classics
By the BBC's Sanjeev Srivastava in Bombay

One of the all time greats of Indian cinema, Ashok Kumar, or Dadamoni as he was affectionately referred to by those in Bollywood, has died aged 90.

He had an emotive appeal that transcended all barriers and was a source of inspiration... for many generations of aspiring actors.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee
Kumar had an inimitable acting style and dialogue delivery that gave pleasure to his countless fans in a career which spanned more than seven decades.

Kumar died of heart failure at his residence in the central Bombay suburb of Chembur at 1430 Indian time on Monday .

Among the tributes was one from Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee who described him as "an inspiration... for many generations of aspiring actors."

Film maker Mahesh Bhatt said his death marked the end of an era.

Silent films

Born in 1911, Ashok Kumar was the screen name of Kumudlal Kanjilal Ganguly who studied law in Calcutta.

He joined a film company - Bombay Talkies - in the early 1930s as a laboratory assistant and would have perhaps retired as one if he was not noticed by a leading actress of the time, Devika Rani.

His first film - Jeevan Naiya - was released in 1936 where he was paired against Devika Rani. With his second film, Acchut Kanya, Kumar became a well known face.

That was the era of silent films and Ashok Kumar acted with Devika Rani in a number of other films as well in the late 1930s.

It was his pairing with Leela Chitnis, another leading actress of the time, in films like Kangan (1939), Bandhan (1940) and Jhoola (1941) which made a star of Ashok Kumar.

Some of his most memorable performances in the lead role came in films like Mahal, Bandini, Aarti, Gumrah, Kanoon and Mamta.


In the 1960s, Kumar settled down to play character roles and gave his fans and film lovers memorable performances in films like Jewel Thief, Aashirwad, Victoria No 203 and Khoobsurat.

He made his debut on the small screen in the 1980's when he began anchoring the hugely popular family soap, Hum Log.

Kumar came from a family of film artistes. His younger brother Kishore Kumar was himself a producer-director-actor-playback singer and music composer of exceptional talent while another brother Anup Kumar was also an actor.

Ashok Kumar was awarded the Indian Government's highest award for contribution to cinema, the Dadasaheb Phalke award.

Film composer, Gulzar
"When a legend like him passes by, it leaves behind a big vacuum"
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