On 13 October 1911, Kumudlal Ganguly, who later became the iconic Ashok Kumar, 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. Also fondly called Dadamoni (affectionate term for elder brother), ventured to Mumbai with a dream to work as a technician in the cinema. But fate had planned something else for him.
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. The actor went on to win the hearts of people with his tremendous acting art in the films like “Kangan”, “Bandhan” and “Bandini”. Along with this, he was seen in many serials of Doordarshan.
Ashok Kumar also received the Best Actor title for the 1968 film “Ashirwad”.
He was honored 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, and antagonist and character roles with equal panache.