Remembering Rajendra Kumar on his 18th death anniversary.

Rajendra Kumar Tuli (20 July 1929–12 July 1999) was afilm actor who starred in Bollywood films. Starting his career in 1950, he appeared in more than 80 films in a career spanning over four decades. He was considered one of the most successful Indian Bollywood actors in the 1960s. He also produced several films starring his son Kumar Gaurav. The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Shri in 1969.

He was born in a Punjabi Hindu family in Sialkot, in the Punjab province of British India.

Rajendra Kumar’s family was based in Punjab, British India. His grandfather was a successful military contractor and his father had a textile business in Karachi, Sindh, British India. During the Partition of India, the family had to leave all the land and property behind and move to India. When they came to Bombay, Kumar decided to try his luck in the Hindi film industry. He never wanted to be a hero and took up work with director H. S. Rawail as an assistant. For nearly five years, he worked with Rawail as an assistant in films like Patanga, Sagai, Pocketmaar.

During this time he made his film debut with a small role in Kidar Sharma’s 1950 film Jogan, opposite Dilip Kumar and Nargis. It was producer Devendra Goel who noticed Kumar in Jogan and gave him a break in Vachan in 1955. Kumar was paid only fifteen hundred rupees for the film; however, the film was a hit and was Kumar’s first silver jubilee film and he was given a title — ‘A star is Born’. He got further success with his supporting role in Mehboob Khan’s blockbuster epic film Mother India in 1957 in which he played Nargis’s character’s son. His first major success as a romantic leading man was in Amit Saxena’s musical Goonj Uthi Shehnai (1959), co-starring Ameeta.

The 1960s saw Kumar rise to stardom. There were times when he had six or seven films which had run for more than 25 weeks (known in India as a “silver jubilee film”), all running at the cinema at the same time, which rendered him the nickname “Jubilee Kumar”. He starred in many box office hits including Dhool Ka Phool (1959), Dil Ek Mandir (1963), Mere Mehboob (1963), Sangam (1964), Arzoo (1965), Suraj (1966), Talash and Ganwaar (1970). He received the Filmfare Nomination for Best Actor for Dil Ek Mandir (1963), Ayee Milan Ki Bela (1964), Arzoo (1965), and as Best Supporting Actor for Sangam (1964).

From 1972 onwards, he faced competition from Rajesh Khanna and many of his films were flops. He then switched to character roles in the late 1970s and 1980s. He was offered a role in the film Saajan Bina Suhaagan opposite Nutan in 1978 which was a success. He also starred in a number of Punjabi films like Teri meri ek jindari.

In 1981 Rajendra introduced his son Kumar Gaurav in the film Love Story which he produced and also starred in. The film was declared a blockbuster. Rajendra produced several other films starring his son including Naam, which also featured his son’s brother-in-law Sanjay Dutt, in leading role. He produced and acted with his son again in the 1993 film Phool. In 1995 he acted in the television serial Andaz which was his last acting role.

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