Why did Dilip Kumar change his name from Mohammed Yusuf Khan?

Legendary actor Dilip Kumar passed away earlier today at the age of 98. He was admitted to the Hinduja Hospital in Mumbai last month.

His mortal remains were taken to his residence in Bandra. Several Bollywood celebrities and politicians, including Shah Rukh Khan, Dharmendra, Ranbir Kapoor, Karan Johar, Vidya Balan, Uddhav Thackeray and Sharad Pawar, visited his home to pay their last respects.

Born on December 11, 1922, Dilip Kumar was one among 12 siblings. The yesteryear actor completed his schooling from the Barnes School, Deolali, Nashik, where he grew up in a mixed neighbourhood.

His childhood friend Raj Kapoor, too, later became his colleague in the film industry.

After running a sandwich stall at Pune's Army Club in 1943, Dilip Kumar wanted to establish a business in Mumbai to contribute to the household income and help his father. But fate had other plans: at the Churchgate Station in Mumbai, Dilip Kumar met Dr Masani, who introduced him to actor Devika Rani, then owner of the renowned film studio in Malad, Bombay Talkies, which has now been shut down.

Earlier, Dilip Kumar used to help in the scripting and story-writing department because of his proficiency in the Urdu language. It was upon Devika Rani's request that Mohammed Yusuf Khan changed his professional name to Dilip Kumar. He then embarked on his acting career with Bombay Talkies in the movie 'Jwar Bhata' in 1944.

In his autobiography, Dilip Kumar had revealed that the fact that Ashok Kumar was also a screen name, and not the actor's real name, made him go for the change.

In his book, the actor said he was not nervous or anxious when Devika Rani asked him to meet her in her office. "She said, quite matter-of-factly: ‘Yousuf, I was thinking about your launch soon as an actor and I felt it would not be a bad idea if you adopted a screen name. You know, a name you would be known by and which will be very appropriate for your audience to relate to and one that will be in tune with the romantic image you are bound to acquire through your screen presence. I thought Dilip Kumar was a nice name. It just popped up in my mind when I was thinking about a suitable name for you. How does it sound to you?’ I was speechless for a moment, being totally unprepared for the new identity she was proposing to me."

"I said it sounded nice but asked her whether it was really necessary. She gave her sweet smile and told me that it would be prudent to do so. She added that it was after considerable thought that she came to the conclusion of giving me a screen name. I was quick to appreciate her concern but I told her I needed to think about it a bit," he added.

Dilip Kumar further wrote in his book that he told S. Mukherjee Sahab (producer) about the suggestion that had come from Devika Rani and he also said that she had a point.

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