To be a member of Bombay Talkies, it was necessary to be a graduate. This helped Ashok Kumar Ganguli, better known as Ashok Kumar. A science graduate, he easily got the job of a laboratory assistant there and even before he could settle down, luck seemed to intervene, and Himanshu Rai, owner of Bombay Talkies, persuaded him to be the hero of his film 'Jeevan Naiya' (1936) as his wife and heroine of the movie Devika Rani had eloped with the original hero Najmal Hussain. Though she came back, Hussain found himself out of job and Ashok Kumar became the new face to reckon with. There started a string of movies like 'Kangan', 'Jhoola', 'Bandhan' and 'Kismet'. The latter remained in the theatres for a record period of four years before 'Sholay' shattered this record. But Ashok Kumar had already found a place in the industry and this was to remain for the next six decades. Ashok Kumar is someone whose acting career is considered to have stretched in three phases. In phase one he was the intense hero who charmed the heroines with his classic good looks. In this phase, he did films like 'Kismet' and 'Kangan'. Then came the second phase of his career where he started accepting movies like 'Mahal' (1949), 'Samadhi' (1950), 'Sangram' (1950) and 'Howrah Bridge' (1958) - these movies were considered as thrillers and Ashok Kumar enjoyed every moment of it. But he did not restrict himself to such movies. He continued giving sensitive performances in movies like 'Parineeta' and 'Ek Hi Raasta'. But before he could be rejected as the top hero of that era, he himself started doing character roles and entered the third phase of his career. He was offered some ‘power roles’ as in 'Aashirwad', 'Mili', 'Khoobsurat and 'Shaukeen'. Ashok Kumar has worked with some of the most beautiful and talented actresses of his time including Madhubala, Kamini Kaushal, Nutan and Meena Kumari. His most memorable roles have been 'Jewel Thief' and 'Chalti Ka Naam Gadi' In the latter film, all the three brothers - Ashok Kumar, Kishore Kumar and Anup Kumar – came together to be a part of one of the most hilarious and legendary cinema of all time. So strong was his love for acting that he had collaborated with his daughter Priti Ganguli, and opened an acting school. Ashok Kumar has become somewhat of a legend, and it will take many years to replace an actor of his caliber.
Date of Birth : 13 October 1911
Place of Birth : Bhagalpur, Bengal Presidency, British India