Ashok Kumar was an Indian film actor. Born Kumudlal Kunjilal Ganguly in Bhagalpur, Bengal Presidency he attained iconic status in Indian cinema. He broke from the theatrical style then common in Indian film towards a more naturalistic method. Given his versatility and proven brilliance over five decades, he is considered by many to be the finest ever Indian actor.
FamilyHis father Kunjalal Ganguly was a lawyer and his mother Gouri Devi came from a wealthy Bengali family and the family was based in Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh. His brothers Kishore Kumar and Anoop Kumar also acted in films. Three brothers worked together in the comedies Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi, Badhti Ka Naam Dadhi and Chalti Ka Naam Zindagi. Ashok, though the eldest of the three by quite a margin, survived them both. In fact, he stopped celebrating his birthday after the youngest brother, Kishore, died on that day in 1987. His sister, Sati Devi, was married to Sashadhar Mukherjee of the Mukherjee-Samarth family.
Early careerReverently called Dadamoni (affectionate term for elder brother), he was born in Bhagalpur and educated at Presidency College of the University of Calcutta (now Presidency University, Kolkata). He started his career in Bombay (Mumbai), albeit accidentally, with the Bombay Talkies production Jeevan Naiya in 1936.
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. His last film role was in Aankhon Mein Tum Ho in 1997. Besides acting, he was an avid painter and a practitioner of homeopathy. He died at the age of 90 in Mumbai. Altogether, he starred in over 275 films.
Awards and recognition
1959 - Sangeet Natak Akademi Award
1962 - Filmfare Best Actor Award, Rakhi
1963 - Bengal Film Journalists' Association - Best Actor Award (Hindi), 'Gumrah'
1966 - Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award, Afsana
1969 - Filmfare Best Actor Award, Aashirwaad
1969 - National Film Awards for Best Actor, Aashirwaad
1969 - Bengal Film Journalists' Association - Best Actor Award (Hindi), Aashirwaad
1988 - Dadasaheb Phalke Award, India's highest award for cinematic excellence
1994 - Star Screen Lifetime Achievement Award
1995 - Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award
1998 - Padma Bhushan
2001 - Awadh Samman by the Government of Uttar Pradesh
2007 - "Special Award" by Star Screen Awards
FilmographySome of his most remembered films include:
Achhut Kanya (1936)
Parineeta in 1953
Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi in 1958
Aashirwad in 1968
Complete list of Ashok Kumar Movies (over 250)