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Ashok Kumar Biography

Ashok Kumar Biography

A comic, light hearted entertainer, but no less talented, he is Ashok Kumar, also known as 'Ashok Da' fondly. Born on 13th October 1911 as Kumudlal Ganguly in the town of Bhagalpur, he is one of the most well known and celebrated artists in the Hindi film industry. His father was a lawyer and his mother belonged to a well known and rich Bengali Brahmin family. He had two brothers namely Anoop and Kishore. He also had one sister, Sati Devi. The trio worked in films like 'Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi' as well as 'Badti Ka Naam Dadhi', both comic films.

He was married to Shobha, with whom he had a rough marriage as she was an alcoholic. His daughter Preeti Ganguly decided to follow her father's footsteps and acted in several films through the 70s. His other daughter Rupa Ganguly and son Arun Ganguly never took to acting. He finished his education at the Presidency College of the University of Calcutta.

His acting career began with the 1936 film 'Jeevan Naiya', which was not more than an accident. Apparently, the director's wife and lead actress Devika Rani ran away with Najam, but returned. Then Himanshu Rai, the director dismissed the male lead and replaced him with Ashok Kumar, who was laboratory assistant then. However, his next film 'Achhut Kanya' was a largely appreciated social drama where an upper-caste boy falls in love with a girl from the 'untouchable' caste. This film created a trend in the industry of films based on social issues.

Through in the 30s and early 40s, he was seen in films like 'Izzat', 'Savitiri' (both 1937), 'Nirmala' (1938), 'Kangan' (1939), 'Bandhan' (1940) and 'Jhoola' (1941). However, his 1943 film 'Kismet' was a blockbuster of that time where he played the role of an anti-hero. In 1949, he starred in 'Mahal' opposite the gorgeous Madhubala. In the 50s, he played roles that were quite typical in their characteristic such as a cigar smoking criminal or of a police investigator. However, in the 60s he played versatile roles, taking into consideration that he won't get typecast himself into a particular form of roles. He also acted opposite Meena Kumari in several of her popular and well received films like 'Parineeta', 'Pakeezah', 'Ek Hi Raasta', 'Aarti' and 'Bandish'.

However, in the 80s and the 90s, he performed in a very few films. He anchored 'Humlog', which was the first Indian soap opera and worked in 'Bahadur Shah Zafar' as the title protagonist. His last film was 'Ankhon Mein Tum Ho' in 1997. He has also performed in Bengali dramas and is credited with working in nearly 275 films.

Throughout his career, he won several awards such as the 'Sangeet Natak Akademi Award' (1959), 'Filmfare Awards' for several of his films, 'National Film Awards for Best Actor', 'Star Screen Lifetime Achievement Award', 'Bengal Film Journalists Association Award for the Best Actor' (1969), 'Padma Bhushan' (1998) to name some of them.

On 10th December 2001, he passed away at the ripe age of 90 years at his Chembur residence in Mumbai.


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