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|[[File:Portrait Ashok KumAshokkumar ar Actor.jpg|frameless|upright=1]]|
13 October 1911
|Died||10 December 2001 90) (aged|
|Occupation||Actor, painter, Singer|
|Children||4, including Preeti Ganguly|
|Relatives||See Ganguly family |
See Mukherjee-Samarth family
Kumudlal Ganguly (13 October 1911 – 10 December 2001), better known by his stage name Ashok Kumar and also fondly called Dadamoni, was an Indian film actor who attained iconic status in Indian cinema and who was a member of the cinematic Ganguly family.
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 was born Kumudlal Ganguly to a Bengali Hindu family in Bhagalpur, Bengal Presidency, British India (present-day Bihar, India).His father, Kunjlal Ganguly, was a lawyer while his mother, Gouri Devi, was a house wife. 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, a girl of his own Bengali Brahmin community and similar family background, in a match arranged by their parents in the usual Indian way.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. 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.
Kumudlal's daughter Bharati married twice. 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 also acquired step-daughters, Geneviève and Shaheen, who were Hameed's daughters by his first wife Valerie Salway, a woman of Scottish, Irish, Portuguese and Italian heritage. Geneviève married a Sindhi businessman named Jagdeep Advani. Their daughter is actress Kiara Advani. Thus, Ashok Kumar has no blood relationship with Kiara Advani and she is not his great-granddaughter, as is sometimes rumoured.
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.
Kumudlal's father wanted him to become a lawyer and got him enrolled in a law college. However, Kumudlal failed his exams and, to escape acrimony at home, came to live with his sister in Mumbai for a few months, until the exams were held again. Kumudlal's sister Sati Devi had been married at a very young age to Sashadhar Mukherjee, who lived in Chembur in Mumbai and worked in a fairly senior position in the technical department of Bombay Talkies, a pioneering Indian film studio. Kumudlal wanted to earn some spending money for himself, and at his request, Sashadhar Mukherjee used his influence to get him a job as laboratory assistant at Bombay Talkies. This was in the early 1930s. The salary was quite decent; furthermore, Kumudlal was successful at his job and found the work interesting, which had not been the case with law college. He tried to convince his father that he would not become successful as a lawyer and that he would be able to earn a living as a technician or lab assistant. His father would not hear of this, and it required the intervention of Sashadhar Mukherjee before he finally reconciled himself to the situation and agreed to let Kumudlal abandon his law studies. Thus began the storied film career, not as an actor but as laboratory assistant, of the future Ashok Kumar.
Kumudlal 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, Najm-ul-Hassan, eloped with his co-star Devika Rani, who happened to be the wife of Himanshu Rai, millionaire owner of Bombay Talkies. Rani subsequently returned to her husband who, out of spite, dismissed Hassan and summarily ordered Kumudlal to replace him. This he did against the advice of director Franz Osten, who reckoned that the young man did not have the good 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.
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.
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."
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.
With the advent of the 1950s, Ashok Kumar switched over to more mature roles, with the exception of the 1958 classic Howrah Bridge, in which he starred alongside Madhubala. 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), Ek Hi Raasta (1956), Ek Saal (1957) and Howrah Bridge (1958). 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.
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), a caring brother in Mere Mehboob (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).
Ashok Kumar and Pran were best friends and have acted in 27 films together from 1951-1987 and had 20 super-hit films together. Films like Purab Aur Pashchim, Victoria 203, Chor Ke Ghar Chor, Chori Mera Kaam, Adhikar (1971), Maan Gaye Ustad were major hits.
He teamed up with Shashi Kapoor and Rajesh Khanna in many films in 1970s and 1980s and acted as the main supporting actor in their films.
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 acted in three episodes of famous detective TV serial Tehkikaat with Vijay Anand and Saurabh Shukla in an episode called A Lucky Draw - Murders after a lucky draw.
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.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."
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.
Devika Rani Chaudhuri, usually known as Devika Rani, was an Indian actress who was active in Hindi films 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.
Kishore Kumar was an Indian playback singer and actor. He was one of the most popular singers in the Indian film industry and from soft numbers to peppy tracks to romantic moods, Kumar sang in different genres but some of his rare compositions which were considered classics were lost in time. According to Ashok Kumar, Kumar's success came because his voice hit the microphone straight at its most sensitive point. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest Indian singers.
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.
Himanshu Rai, one of the pioneers of Indian cinema, is best known as the founder of the studio in 1934, along with Devika Rani. He was associated with a number of movies, including Goddess (1922), The Light of Asia (1925), Shiraz (1928), A Throw of Dice (1929) and Karma (1933). He was married to actress Devika Rani Chaudhuri (1908–1994).
Deb Mukherjee is a Bengali Indian actor. His daughter Sunita is married to director Ashutosh Gowariker, while his son is director Ayan Mukherjee.
Sashadhar Mukherjee was an Indian film producer in Hindi cinema. He started his career with Bombay Talkies in the 1930s, and later established Filmistan Studio with Rai Bahadur Chunilalis, Ashok Kumar and Gyan Mukherjee in 1943. In the 1950s, he went on to start his independent studio, Filmalaya. He is noted for films like Dil Deke Dekho (1959), Love in Simla (1960), Ek Musafir Ek Hasina (1962) and Leader (1964). He is part of the distinguished Mukherjee clan of Bollywood.
Kismet (transl. Fate) is a 1943 Indian drama film, directed by Gyan Mukherjee, written by Mukherjee with Aghajani Kashmeri, and produced by Bombay Talkies, during the Second World War, while it was in a succession battle between Devika Rani and Sashadhar Mukherjee after owner Himanshu Rai's death. The film was the first big hit in the history of Bombay cinema, and the first blockbuster in Indian cinema.
Preeti Ganguly was an Indian actress who played several comic roles in Bollywood in the 1970s and 1980s. She was the daughter of veteran Indian actor Ashok Kumar, and part of the Ganguly family. She is best known for her comic role as Freni Sethna, the die-hard Amitabh Bachchan fan in Basu Chatterjee's Khatta Meetha (1978).
In a Bollywood film industry dominated by powerhouse families the Ganguly brothers and their family connections serve as an important bridge between the clans.
Jeevan Naiya is a 1936 Hindi film directed by Franz Osten, and produced by Himanshu Rai for his studio Bombay Talkies. It is famous for being the screen debut early superstar Ashok Kumar. The film is about the ostracism of dancing girls. The film was one of several successful Bombay Talkies collaborations between Franz Osten, Himashu Rai, screenwriters J. S. Kashyap and Niranjan Pal, and their leading lady of the time, Devika Rani.
Syed Wajid Hussain Rizvi, better known by his film screen name, Agha Jani Kashmiri, was an Indian screenwriter, former actor and Urdu poet.
Ayan Mukerji is an Indian film director who works in Hindi cinema. Mukerji made his directorial debut at the age of 26 with the coming-of-age comedy Wake Up Sid (2009), produced by Karan Johar. The film opened to strong reviews and box-office returns. His next release, the 2013 musical romantic comedy-drama, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, ranks among the highest-grossing Hindi films ever.
Saraswati Devi, born Khorshed Minocher-Homji, was an Indian director of music and score composer who worked in Hindi cinema in the 1930s and 1940s. She is most noted for her score, Mein Ban ki Chiriyra Banke Bun Bun Bolun Re in Bombay Talkies's Achut Kanya (1936). She along with Nargis' mother & Sanjay Dutt's grandmother Jaddanbai is considered to be one of the first female music composers in Indian cinema.
Anjaan is a 1941 Bollywood film directed by Amiya Chakrabarty and produced by Bombay Talkies. It was Chakrabarty's first film direction. The film's story and screenplay were by Amiya Chakrabarty, with dialogues by J. S. Casshyap. The cinematography was by the debutant R. D. Mathur. Its music direction was by Pannalal Ghosh, with lyrics by Kavi Pradeep and P. L. Santoshi. The film starred Devika Rani, who had recently returned to films after a two-year absence, following the death of her husband Himanshu Rai in 1940. The cast included Ashok Kumar, David, V. H. Desai, Gulab, Suresh and Om Prakash.
Gyan Mukherjee was an Indian film director and screenwriter, who worked in Hindi cinema, best known for the hits Jhoola (1941) and Kismet (1943).
Jeevan Prabhat is a 1937 Hindi film social drama, produced by Bombay Talkies and directed by Franz Osten. The music director was Saraswati Devi with lyrics and dialogues by J. S. Casshyap. The screenplay was by Niranjan Pal. The film's "star value" was Devika Rani, with Kishore Sahu making his debut as an actor in the film. The cast included another debutant, Renuka Devi, with Mumtaz Ali, Maya Devi and M. Nazir.
Izzat (transl. Honour) is a 1937 Hindi film social drama, directed by Franz Osten. The film was produced by Himanshu Rai for Bombay Talkies. The credit roll of Izzat attributes the story to Dr. G. Nundy, adapted for screen by J. Nundy. The screenplay was by Niranjan Pal, who handled the story section of Bombay Talkies. J. S. Casshyap wrote the songs and dialogues and was assisted in dialogue direction by S. I. Hassan. The music was composed by Saraswati Devi, with actor Mumtaz Ali doubling as the choreographer. The film starred Ashok Kumar with Devika Rani in the lead, while the rest of the cast included Mumtaz Ali, Madhurika, Kamtaprasad, Chandraprabha, and P. F. Pithawala.
Vachan is a 1938 costume drama Hindi film directed by Franz Osten. The regular Bombay Talkies writer, Niranjan Pal, walked out of the Bombay Talkies production team after an altercation with Himanshu Rai in 1936. Saradindu Bandyopadhyay, a famous writer known also for creating Byomkesh Bakshi, replaced Pal in the story department, writing for films like Nirmala and Vachan in 1938 and Durga in 1939. The screenplay was by Agha Jani Kashmiri, with dialogues and lyrics by J. S. Kashyap. The music was composed by Saraswati Devi aided by J. S. Kashyap. The film starred Devika Rani and Ashok Kumar, a popular pair from Bombay Talkies who worked in seven films together. Devika Rani remained the bigger star with Kumar's name being "over-shadowed" in the credit rolls, as well as the publicity of the film.
Kuldip Kaur was an Indian film actress who worked in Hindi and Punjabi films. Known for her roles as negative characters, she was cited as Indian cinema's "most polished vamps" and actor Pran's "opposite number". She started her acting career with the first Punjabi film produced in India following Partition; Chaman, also called The Garden in 1948.
Munawar Sultana (1924–2007), also written as Munawwar Sultana, was an Indian cinema actress, who acted in Hindi/Hindustani films. She is cited as one of the "popular" actresses of the late 1940s to early 1950s period, along with Noor Jehan, Swarnalata and Ragini. Her specialty was playing a selfless woman, enduring the rough treatment meted by her husband and family, but who eventually "brought her erring husband back home".
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