Ashok Kumar

Ashok Kumar (13 October 1911 – 10 December 2001), born Kumudlal Ganguly, and also fondly called Dadamoni, was an Indian film actor who attained iconic status in Indian cinema. He was honoured in 1988 with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, the highest national award for cinema artists, by the Government of India and also received the Padma Bhushan in 1999 for his contributions to Indian cinema. He is considered to be one of India's finest actors ever, playing leading, antagonist and character roles with equal panache.

Ashok Kumar
Portrait Ashok Kumar Actor
Native name
অশোক কুমার গাঙ্গুলী
Kumudlal Ganguly

13 October 1911
Died10 December 2001 (aged 90)
Other namesSanjay
Ashok Kumar
Kumudlal Ganguly
OccupationActor, painter
Years active1936–1997
Spouse(s)Shobha Devi
Children4, including Preeti Ganguly
RelativesSee Ganguly family
See Mukherjee-Samarth family
HonoursPadma Bhushan (1999)

Background and family

Ashok Kumar was born Kumudlal Ganguly to a Bengali family in Bhagalpur,[1] then in the Bengal Presidency of British India and now in the Bihar state of India. His father, Kunjlal Ganguly, was a lawyer while his mother, Gouri Devi, was a home-maker. Kumudlal was the eldest of four children. His only sister, Sati Devi, a few years younger to him, was married at a very young age to Sashadhar Mukherjee and became the matriarch of a large "film family". Next was his brother, Kalyan, more than 14 years younger (b.1926), who later took the screen name Anoop Kumar. Youngest of all was Abhas (b.1929), whose screen name was Kishore Kumar, who became a phenomenally successful playback singer of Hindi films. Although the eldest by several years, Kumudlal outlived all his siblings. In fact, he stopped celebrating his birthday after his youngest brother, Kishore, died on that very day in 1987.

While still a teenager, and well before he had even given thought to a career in films, the young Kumudlal was married to Shobha in a match arranged by their parents in the usual Indian style.[2] Their lifelong marriage was a harmonious and conventional one, and despite his film career, the couple retained a very middle-class outlook and value system, bringing up their children with traditional values in a remarkably simple home. They were the parents of one son, Aroop Ganguly, and three daughters named Bharati Patel, Rupa Verma and Preeti Ganguly. Aroop Kumar Ganguly worked in only one film, appearing as hero in Bezubaan (1962), which flopped at the box office. He then made a career in the corporate world. The eldest daughter, Bharati Patel, is the mother of the actress Anuradha Patel, who is married to actor Kanwaljeet Singh. His second daughter, Rupa Verma, is the widow of the actor and comedian Deven Verma. The youngest daughter, Preeti Ganguly, was the only one among his daughters to enter the film industry. She acted as a comedienne in several Hindi films during the 1970s and 1980s, and died unmarried in 2012.[3]

Kumudlal's daughter Bharati married twice, and both times for love. Her first marriage was to a Mr. Patel, a Gujarati gentleman. By this marriage, she had one daughter, the actress Anuradha Patel, who is married to the actor Kanwaljeet Singh. Later, and much against the wishes of all her relatives, Bharati married Hameed Jaffrey, a Muslim, the brother of the actor Saeed Jaffrey. By this second marriage, Bharati had another daughter, Shaheen Jaffrey, whose principal claim to fame is that she may have been the first love of actor Salman Khan.[4] By this second marriage, Bharati also acquired a step-daughter, Geneviève, who was Hameed's daughter by his first wife Valarie Salway, a woman of Scottish, Irish, Portuguese and Spanish heritage.[5] Geneviève married a Sindhi businessman named Jagdeep Advani. Their daughter is the upcoming model and actress Kiara Advani. Thus, Ashok Kumar has no blood relationship with Kiara Advani and she is not his great-granddaughter, as is sometimes rumoured.

Early years

Reverently called Dadamoni (affectionate term for elder brother), Kumudlal Ganguly was born in Bhagalpur and educated at Presidency College of the University of Calcutta, Kolkata, where he studied to become a lawyer. However, his heart was not in his law studies. Ganguly was more interested in cinema, in which he dreamt of working as a technician.

Career & Life

Early career (1936–42)

Kumudlal's sister Sati Devi was married at a very young age to Sashadhar Mukherjee, who lived in Mumbai and worked as a technician in the film industry. This connection resulted in Kumudlal becoming somewhat interested in the technical aspects of film-making (not of acting). He failed his law exams and, to escape acrimony at home, came to live with his sister for a few months, until the exams were held again. In order to earn some livelihood, he requested his brother-in-law to find him a job. Sashadhar Mukherjee was working in a fairly senior position in the technical department of Bombay Talkies, a pioneering Indian film studio, and he used his influence to get Kumudlal a job there. He started off as a laboratory assistant in Bombay Talkies and lived with his sister's family in Chembur, not far from the studio. This was in the early 1930s. The salary was fairly decent; furthermore, he was successful at his job and enthusiastic about it, which had not been the case with law college. He managed to convince his father that he would not become successful as a lawyer and would be able to earn a living as lab assistant. His father finally reconciled himself to the situation and granted permission to abandon his law studies. Thus began his film career, albeit as laboratory assistant in a film studio.

Naya Sansar (1941)
Kumar in Naya Sansar (1941)

He was happy working as a laboratory assistant and remained in that position for some five years. His acting career started purely by accident. Shooting was already underway on the Bombay Talkies production Jeevan Naiya in 1936 when the male lead Najmul Hassan eloped with his co-star Devika Rani, who also happened to be the wife of studio head Himanshu Rai. Rani subsequently returned to her husband who, out of spite, dismissed Hassan and called upon Kumudlal to replace him against the advice of director Franz Osten, who reckoned that the young man did not have the looks needed for an actor. Kumudlal was given the screen name Ashok Kumar, in keeping with the general trend in an era when actors concealed their real identities behind screen names.

Achhut Kanya2
with Devika Rani in Achhut Kanya (1936)

Ashok Kumar, as Kumudlal Ganguly was now known, started off his acting career reluctantly. His subsequent venture with Devika Rani in Achhut Kanya, the same year was one of the early blockbusters of Hindi cinema. Like several movies of that era, Achhut Kanya was a reformist piece featuring a Brahmin boy falling in love with a girl from the so-called untouchables in Indian society. The runaway success of Achhut Kanya cemented Ashok Kumar and Devika Rani as the most popular on-screen couple of that era.

The two did a string of films thereafter, including Janmabhoomi (1936), Izzat (1937), Savitri (1937), Vachan (1938) and Nirmala (1938). Their last on-screen venture was the 1941 movie Anjaan, whose failure at the box office brought an end to the legendary on-screen couple. Devika Rani was consistently the bigger star, with Ashok Kumar working in her shadow.

He started emerging from Devika Rani's shadow owing to pairing opposite Leela Chitnis, another actress who was senior to him in age as well as stature. Back-to-back successes with Kangan (1939), Bandhan (1940) and Azad (1940) saw Ashok Kumar emerge as a popular actor in his own right. The success of Jhoola (1941), in which he starred opposite Leela Chitnis, established him as one of the most bankable actors of the era.

Stardom (1943–50)

Ashok Kumar in Kismet1
Ashok Kumar in the 1943 film Kismet.

The Gyan Mukherjee directed 1943 movie Kismet, featuring Ashok Kumar as the first anti-hero in Indian Cinema smashed all existing box office records, becoming the first Hindi movie to gross 1 crore at the box office. The success of Kismet made Ashok Kumar the first superstar of Indian cinema. Such was his popularity at the time that, in the words of Manto, "Ashok's popularity grew each passing day. He seldom ventured out, but wherever he was spotted, he was mobbed. Traffic would come to a stop and often the police would have to use lathis to disperse his fans."[6]

Ashok Kumar and Sumitra Devi in Mashaal (1950)
Ashok Kumar with Sumitra Devi in Mashaal (1950)[7]

After Kismet, Ashok Kumar became the most bankable star of the era, delivering a succession of box office successes with movies such as Chal Chal Re Naujawan (1944), Shikari (1946), Sajan (1947), Mahal (1949), Mashaal (1950), Sangram (1950) and Samadhi (1950).

He produced several films for Bombay Talkies during the final years of the company including Ziddi (1948), which established the careers of Dev Anand and Pran, Neelkamal (1947), which marked the debut of Raj Kapoor, and the famous Mahal in 1949 in which he co-starred with Madhubala.

Post-stardom (1950s)

With the advent of the 1950s, Ashok Kumar switched over to more mature roles, with the exception of the 1958 classic Howrah Bridge. Despite the arrival of a younger crop of stars like Dev Anand, Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor, Ashok Kumar remained one of the stars of the era with hits like Afsana (1951), Nau Bahar (1952), Parineeta (1953), Bandish (1955) and EK Hi Raasta (1956). His most successful film of that era was Deedar (1951), in which he played second lead to Dilip Kumar.

Ashok Kumar appeared frequently opposite Nalini Jaywant in several movies of the 1950s. He did around 17 films with Meena Kumari in a span of twenty years ranging from Tamasha in 1952 to 1972 magnum opus, Pakeezah. He played the suave cigarette-smoking criminal or police officer in several films in the mid to late 1950s, in what was the Indian film-noir movement.

Later Career (1960s & 1970s)

By the 1960s, Ashok Kumar switched over to character roles, variously playing the parent, uncle or grandparent, being careful never to be typecast. From a judge in Kanoon (1960), an aging freedom fighter in Bandini (1963), an aging priest in Chitralekha (1964), a vicious zamindar in Jawaab (1970) and a criminal in Victoria 203 (1971), he played a wide variety of roles.

Ashok Kumar played important roles in several landmark movies in the 1960s and 1970s, including Jewel Thief (1967), Aashirwad (1968) (for which he won a Filmfare Award as well as National Award in 1969), Purab aur Pashchim (1970), Pakeezah (1972), Mili (1975), Chhoti Si Baat (1975) and Khoobsurat (1980).

Last years and death

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.

Ashok Kumar's last film role was in the 1997 movie Aankhon Mein Tum Ho. Besides acting, he was an avid painter and a practitioner of homeopathy. A qualified homoeopath, Ashok Kumar earned a reputation for conjuring up miracle cures.[8] Altogether, he starred in over 275 films. He has done more than 30 Bengali dramas in Dhakuria.

Ashok Kumar died at the age of 90 in Mumbai on 10 December 2001 of heart failure at his residence in Chembur. The then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee described him as "an inspiration... for many generations of aspiring actors."[9]


Ashok Kumar 2013 stamp of India
Kumar on a 2013 stamp of India

Ashok Kumar is widely regarded as a pioneering actor who introduced natural acting to Hindi cinema. He was the first superstar of Hindi cinema as well as the first lead actor to play an anti-hero. He also became the first star to reinvent himself, enjoying a long and hugely successful career as a character actor.

Ashok Kumar is also credited with mentoring several personalities who went on to make significant contributions to Indian cinema. As producer with Bombay Talkies, Ashok Kumar gave Dev Anand his first break in Ziddi (1948), which also established Pran (then a struggling actor who had just fled to India during partition), as one of the leading villains of the era. The 1949 film Mahal, starring Ashok Kumar and made under his watch at Bombay Talkies launched the career of Madhubala, one of the leading actresses of the 1950s. The legendary song "Aayega Aanewala" from Mahal was the turning point in the career of a hitherto little known young singer called Lata Mangeshkar.

Off the screen, Ashok Kumar gave B.R. Chopra, then a film critic and unsuccessful filmmaker, his first break as director with the 1951 film Afsana. The success of Afsana established Chopra as a respected filmmaker. Ashok Kumar also played mentor to his assistant at Bombay Talkies, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, who went on to become one of the great directors of Hindi cinema. He was the lucky mascot for a promising young director called Shakti Samanta in the late 1950s, delivering a series of hits with Inspector (1956), Howrah Bridge (1958) and Detective (1958) which helped the young man establish himself as a successful director. Shakti Samanta would go on to deliver several movies in the 1960s and 1970s which are regarded today as classics.

Ashok Kumar also paved the way for his younger brothers Kalyan (Anoop) and Kishore Kumar. While Anoop is best remembered for his role in Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958), Kishore went on to become a legendary singer. Arguably, Kishore is today the most popular of the brothers.

The distinctive style and mannerisms that Ashok Kumar adopted in his late career still remain extremely popular among mimicry artists.

Awards and recognition

Selected filmography

Some of Kumar's most popular films include:


  1. ^ "Ashok Kumar: Lesser Known Facts – The Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  2. ^ "Home alone: Ashok Kumar". Home alone: Ashok Kumar. Archived from the original on 5 February 2008.
  3. ^ "Veteran actor Ashok Kumar passes away". Economic Times. 10 December 2001.
  4. ^ "ये रही हैं सलमान खान की पहली गर्लफ्रेंड, होते-होते रह गई दोनों की शादी!". 10 February 2016. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  5. ^ "Gene Junction: Kiara Alia Advani". 2 February 2016. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  6. ^ Stars from Another Sky by Saadat Hassan Manto
  7. ^ "Sumitra Devi – An Unsurpassable Beauty Before the Genre of Suchitra Sen". Filmzack. Retrieved 6 May 2018.
  8. ^ The Tribune – Windows – Main Feature-Breathing new life into samadhis by Roopinder Singh. (15 December 2001). Retrieved on 2018-11-09.
  9. ^ "BBC News – FILM – Bollywood star Ashok Kumar dies".
  10. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 November 2014. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 19 August 2014.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)


External links


Aashirwad is a 1968 Bollywood film, directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee. The film stars Ashok Kumar and Sanjeev Kumar. The film is notable for its inclusion of a rap-like song performed by Ashok Kumar, "Rail Gaadi".

Ashok Kumar (British politician)

Ashok Kumar (28 May 1956 – 15 March 2010) was a Labour Party politician in the United Kingdom who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland from 1997 until his death shortly before the 2010 general election.

Ashok Kumar (Telugu actor)

Ashok Kumar (Telugu:అశోక్ కుమార్) is a Telugu comedian and actor.He was first appeared in Doordharshan-8 and very popular to all Telugu people since TV in Andhra Pradesh.Ashok kumar acted in TV comedy serials and movies.

Ashok Kumar (cinematographer)

Ashok Kumar Aggarwal, ISC (circa 1941 – 22 October 2014) was an Indian cinematographer who worked mainly in the South Indian film industry. In a career that spanned nearly four decades, he worked in over 125 feature films in Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and Hindi languages.

Born in Allahabad to a Hindi poet, Ashok Kumar obtained a diploma in photography from the Allahabad University. His passion for cinema made him enroll for a course in motion picture photography at the Institute of Film Technology, Adyar, Chennai. Upon passing out of the institute, he made his cinematic debut with the 1969 Malayalam film Janmabhoomi for which he was awarded that year's Kerala State Film Award for Best Cinematography. His association with P. N. Menon in the early 1970s cemented his place in the Malayalam film industry. He also worked for other filmmakers such as Babu Nanthankode, J. D. Thottan, Bharathan, N. Sankaran Nair and Ramu Kariat. He got his break in Tamil cinema with J. Mahendran's Uthiripookkal (1979). He was associated with Mahendran in most of his films.

Apart from several state government awards, Ashok Kumar was also a recipient of the National Film Award for Best Cinematography. During his career, he also directed ten feature films in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi. He was married and one of his sons, Akash Aggarwal, works as a cinematographer in Tamil films.

Ashok Kumar (film)

Ashok Kumar was a 1941 Tamil-language film directed by Raja Chandrasekhar. It starred M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar, Chittor V. Nagaiah, P. Kannamba, N. S. Krishnan, T. A. Madhuram, M. G. Ramachandran and Ranjan.

Ashok Kumar Doharey

Ashok Kumar Dohre is a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party and has won the Indian general elections, 2014 from the Etawah (Lok Sabha constituency) &

Former cabinet minister in U.P. Government.

Bombay Talkies

Bombay Talkies was a movie studio founded in 1934. During its period of operation, Bombay Talkies produced 40 movies in Malad, a suburb of the Indian city of Bombay.

The studio was established in 1934 by Himanshu Rai and Devika Rani. After Rai's death in 1940, Rani took over the studio. Besides the founders, Ashok Kumar was the leading actor of the studio until 1943, when he founded another studio, Filmistan, with Shashadhar Mukherjee. After Rani's retirement, Kumar and Mukherjee took over Bombay Talkies. The company went out of business in 1953. A last film produced by the studio was released in June 1954.

Devika Rani

Devika Rani Chaudhuri, usually known as Devika Rani (30 March 1908 – 9 March 1994), was an actress in Indian films who was active during the 1930s and 1940s. Widely acknowledged as the first lady of Indian cinema, Devika Rani had a successful film career that spanned 10 years.

Born into a wealthy, anglicized Indian family, Devika Rani was sent to boarding school in England at age nine and grew up in that country. In 1928, she met Himanshu Rai, an Indian film-producer, and married him the following year. She assisted in costume design and art direction for Rai's experimental silent film A Throw of Dice (1929). Both of them then went to Germany and received training in film-making at UFA Studios in Berlin. Rai then cast himself as hero and her as heroine in his next production, the bilingual film Karma (1933), made simultaneously in English & Hindi. The film premiered in England in 1933, elicited interest there for a prolonged kissing scene featuring the real-life couple, and flopped badly in India. The couple returned to India in 1934, where Himanshu Rai established a production studio, Bombay Talkies, in partnership with certain other people. The studio produced several successful films over the next 5–6 years, and Devika Rani played the lead role in many of them. Her on-screen pairing with Ashok Kumar became popular in India.

Following Rai's death in 1940, Devika Rani took control of the studio and produced some more films in partnership with her late husband's associates, namely Sashadhar Mukherjee and Ashok Kumar. As she was to recollect in her old age, the films which she supervised tended to flop, while the films supervised by the partners tended to be hits. In 1945, she retired from films, married the Russian painter Svetoslav Roerich and moved to his estate on the outskirts of Bangalore, thereafter leading a very reclusive life for the next five decades. Her persona, no less than her film roles, were considered socially unconventional. Her awards include the Padmashri (1958), Dadasaheb Phalke Award (1970) and the Soviet Land Nehru Award (1990).

Gana Bala

Bala Murugan, better known by his stage name Gana Bala is an Indian playback singer in Tamil cinema. He rose to prominence after rendering the songs 'Aadi Pona Aavani' and 'Nadukadalula Kappala' from the soundtrack of Attakathi. He has predominantly sung songs belonging to the gaana genre of Tamil Nadu. He has been credited for reviving the gaana genre in Tamil Cinema after 'Thenisai Thendral' Deva. He has also penned lyrics for some of his songs.

Gumrah (1963 film)

Gumrah (English: Astray) is a 1963 Hindi film produced and directed by B. R. Chopra. The film stars Sunil Dutt, Ashok Kumar, Mala Sinha, Nirupa Roy, Deven Verma and Shashikala. The music was composed by Ravi and the lyrics were by Sahir Ludhianvi. The film was a box office success. It was remade in Malayalam as Vivahitha (1970). For her performance, Shashikala won the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Hamirpur (Assembly constituency)

Hamirpur is a constituency of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly covering the city of Hamirpur in the Hamirpur district of Uttar Pradesh, India.

Hamirpur is one of five assembly constituencies in the Hamirpur (Lok Sabha constituency). Since 2008, this assembly constituency is numbered 228 amongst 403 constituencies.

Currently this seat belongs to Bharatiya Janta Party candidate Ashok Kumar Singh Chandel who won in last Assembly election of 2017 Uttar Pradesh Lagislative Elections defeating Samajwadi Party candidate Dr. Manoj Kumar Prajapati by a margin of 48,655 votes.

K. Ashok Kumar

K Ashok Kumar (ta:அசோக் குமார்) (b 1953) is an Indian politician and Member of Parliament elected from Tamil Nadu. He is elected to the Lok Sabha from Krishnagiri constituency as an Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam candidate in 2014 election.He is the chairman of the Krishnagiri District Panchayat.


Kuselan is a 2008 Indian Tamil language drama film directed by P. Vasu. A remake of the Malayalam film Kadha Parayumbol (2007), it was produced by Pushpa Kandaswamy, Aswani Dutt and G. P. Vijayakumar in two languages. Kuselan stars Pasupathy and Meena in lead roles. Rajinikanth plays an extended cameo role. The film was simultaneously made in Telugu as Kathanayakudu, with most of Rajinikanth's scenes being dubbed from the Tamil version except the climax scene that features him alongside Jagapathy Babu.

The plot revolves around a villager, who had shared a strong friendship with a popular cinema actor in his youth. However, due to their different careers they were forced to part ways, one becoming a national figure, the other, a village barber. Decades later, the actor returns to the village to participate in his film's shooting. Whilst the entire village become excited about the prospect of seeing the actor, the barber fears that his old friend would have forgotten him and would neglect him.

Kuselan opened to audiences on 1 August 2008, taking the third largest opening for a Tamil film up until the date of release. Despite the hype before release, the film ended up evoking negative reviews. Prior to release, the film was heavily marketed by the producers as a Rajinikanth-starrer, although Rajinikanth himself had made it clear that he was only playing a guest role.

List of Bollywood films of 1965

This list of films produced in 1965 by the Bollywood film industry based in Mumbai includes both notable, and non-notable films.

At the 13th National Film Awards the award for First, Second and Third Best Feature Film in Hindi went to Shaheed, Oonche Log and Guide respectively.

Oonche Log (1965 film)

Oonche Log (lit. High Society People) is a 1965 Hindi-language drama film directed by Phani Majumdar. It is based on the play Major Chandrakanth, by K. Balachander. The main character roles of this film were played by Ashok Kumar, Raaj Kumar and Feroz Khan. Its lyrics were composed by Majrooh Sultanpuri and the music was given by Chitragupta.

The film was shot at Vauhini Studios, Chennai and was also noted as the first big hit of newcomer Feroz Khan, who was noted for his sensitive performance against veterans such as Raaj Kumar and Ashok Kumar. At the 13th National Film Awards it won the award for Second Best Feature Film in Hindi The play was later adapted by Balachander himself into a Tamil film titled Major Chandrakanth in 1966, starring J. Jayalalitha and Muthuraman.

Pooja Ke Phool

Pooja Ke Phool (lit. Flowers for the puja) is a 1964 Hindi movie. Produced by A. V. Meiyappan and directed by Bhimsingh, the film stars Ashok Kumar, Mala Sinha, Dharmendra, Pran, Nimmi and Leela Chitnis. The films music is given by Madan Mohan. This is a remake of the Tamil film Kumudham.

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