Ashok Kumar
Ashok Kumar aka Dadamoni was born Kumudlal Kunjilal Ganguly in Bhagalpur and grew up in Khandwa. He briefly studied law in Calcutta, then joined his future brother-in-law Shashadhar Mukherjee at Bombay Talkies as laboratory assistant. Little did he know that he will end up being the leading man of the Bombay Talkies Film Company. It so happened that the boss's wife and leading actress Devika Rani runs off with her lead man Najam-ul-Hussain which leaves the film in doldrums. The Company needs a hero and the man summoned is Ashok Kumar. And thus began an extremely successful acting career that lasted six decades!

Ashok Kumar made his debut opposite Devika Rani in Jeevan Naiya (1936) but became a well known face with Achut Kanya (1936). Devika Rani and he did a string of films together - Izzat (1937), Savitri (1937), Nirmala (1938) among others but she was the bigger star and chief attraction in all those films. It was with his trio of hits opposite Leela Chitnis - Kangan (1939), Bandhan (1940) and Jhoola (1941) that Ashok Kumar really came into his own. Going with the trend he sang his own songs and some of them like Main Ban ki Chidiya, Chal Chal re Naujawaan and Na Jaane Kidhar Aaj Meri Nao Chali Re were extremely popular!

Some of his most unforgettable accomplishment in the lead roles are in films like Mahal, Bandini, Aarti, Gumrah, Kanoon and Mamta. After Kismet, which made Ashok a rage, with his stylish anti-hero persona, he set a new trend, with his cigarette flicking style; he was struck with the anti-hero image for some time. He acted in murder mystery movies like Sangram, Inspector, Howrah Bridge and night club. With Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi he showed the world that he was a good comedian too. With Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi Ashok Kumar also ensured that he was the one actor who effortlessly withstood the Trimurthi of the 1950s - Dev Anand, Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor and more than held his own in the films they did together - Badbaan, Deedar and Bewafaa respectively.

His success continued with strong performances in Aarti, Gumrah and an absolutely flawless one in Bandini, matching Nutan's brilliant performance scene for scene. In the late 1960s after Mamta and Hatey Bazarey, Ashok Kumar settled down to playing character roles. Ashok Kumar took on all sorts of characters - the villain in Jewel Thief, the sympathetic parent in Mili, the lovable old man in Aashirwad and Choti si Baat, the old comic conman in Victoria no. 203, the rapist in Jawaab, the henpecked head of the family - Khubsoorat. He was by now lovingly called Dadamoni by one and all.

With more that 300 movies to his credit he won most acclaimed Dada Saheb Phalke award in 1989. He came to small screen in 1980's with the most popular serial Hum Log. The grand old man of the tinsel town died of heart failure when he was 90 on December 10, 2001.

 
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