Actor, producer and director Rajendra Kumar rose to stardom during the 1960s and early 70s in Hindi cinema and is best remembered for portraying emotional scenes and essaying tragic roles in most of his films. Because of his immense success as an actor at the box office, Kumar was often referred to as "Jubilee Kumar", to refer to the run of his films for 25 weeks. Rajendra Kumar was born on 20th July 1929 in Sialkot (now in Pakistan). Post the Partition between India and Pakistan, he undertook a tedious journey to Bombay along with his family. While growing up, Kumar wanted to join Hindi films as an actor. Once in Bombay, he decided to pursue his childhood dream and made his debut with Mela
(1948) where he played an extra. For the next five years, he worked with H S Rawail as an assistant, when finally he got a supporting role in Jogan
(1950), alongside top stars Dilip Kumar and Nargis. After this, he got another break in Vachan
(1955). The following year, V Shantaram 's Toofan Aur Diya
(1956), gave him recognition and he was soon cast in his breakthrough role in Mehboob Khan's Mother India
(1957), in which he played Nargis's son. The film was a huge hit, was nominated for an Oscar, and the success of the film did wonders for the career of the actors.
Two years later, Kumar was cast in Amit Saxenas's musical Goonj Uthi Shehnai
(1959), which was his first major success as a solo actor. What followed were a spate of successful films that includes hits such as Dhool Ka Phool
(1959), Dil Ek Mandir
(1963), Mere Mehboob
(1965), and Talaash
(1969). He was nominated for the Filmfare Award multiple times. But in the 1970s, Kumar's career graph started to slump. He faced stiff competition from Rajesh Khanna and thus, Kumar shifted to doing supporting character roles.
A decade later, Kumar introduced his son Kumar Gaurav in Love Story (1981). The film was produced and directed by him and he acted in it as well. The film was a blockbuster and Kumar produced several other films starring his son. Later, he produced Naam (1986) with his son and the film was directed by Mahesh Bhatt. The film also starred his brother-in-law Sanjay Dutt in the leading role. His last film as a producer was Phool (1993).
In 1998, he played a small role in Deepa Mehta’s critically acclaimed film Earth (1998), which ended up being his final appearance on screen.
In 1999, Kumar died of cancer at the age of 69. A recipient of the Padma Shri Award in 1969, Rajendra Kumar is an actor who has made his mark in Indian cinema, and remains unforgotten.