I might finally got around to reading his biography! I made my friend buy it and bring it to me aaaaaallllllll the way from India, and I STILL hadn’t read it. But surely his birthday would be an occasion for that, right? I was tempted to do a full 94 reasons I love him, but maybe that should wait until next year when he hits 95. This year, I will just do 32, for the age he was won the first FilmFare Award ever.
1.1. I love you because you were born Yusuf Khan in Peshawar, in the same neighborhood as the Prithviraj Kapoor family, and Shahrukh Khan’s father.
2. I love you because you had a successful business career before acting, all on your own, you ran away from your family in Bombay to Pune and opened a canteen, returning with a profit all your own.
3. I love you because after you returned to Bombay you were discovered, and re-named, by Devika Rani, the widowed aging head of Bombay Talkies studio.
4. I love you because you were mentored by Ashok Kumar, India’s first movie star.
5. I love you because you started working at Bombay Talkies in the script department, using your fluent English and Urdu to help in dialogue and translation.
6. I love you because your first film role went unnoticed, your next few were minor hits, but it was your performance opposite the reigning stars of the day, Raj Kapoor and Nargis, that really showed what you could do, in Andaz.
7. I love you because you won the first ever FilmFare best actor award at the first ever FilmFare Award ceremony, for Daag in 1954.
8. I love you because you were the greatest Hindi Devdas, in the one “true” Hindi Devdas.
9. I love you because, along with classic tragedies, you also made a classic swashbuckler, Aan, India’s first technicolor film.
10. I love you because your own romantic tragedy of this era, your love for Madhubala against the wishes of her father, played out in as dramatic a fashion as any of your films, complete with a courtroom declaration of love.
11. I love you because Aan you mastered the art of “charmingly arrogant” in Aan.
12. I love you because you started taking on lighter films like Aan supposedly on your psychiatrist’s advice, since you were so fully inhabiting the tragic heroes you were playing, it was leading to depression. Which, seeing songs like this, I can fully believe!
13. I love you because your doctor’s advice lead you to take roles like Ram Aur Shyam, in India’s first prince and pauper style double role movie!
14. And then of course there’s Mughal-E-Azam. In which you do a wonderful job watching Madhubala.
15. I love you because you also did a wonderful job watching Vyjantimala dance.
16. Leader was in your later years, and was a bit of a flop. But this song is still very nice, and you look very nice in it.
17. Bairaag is even further into your decline, but you are still giving it your all in your songs!
18. Maybe we are just imagining it, because we know the real life backstory, but doesn’t it seem like back in the day with Madhubala there was something special about the songs?
19. Never as much as in Mughal-E-Azam.
20. Although his chemistry with his eventual wife Saira was pretty nice too.
21. I love you because you were offered, and turned down, Omar Sharif’s role in Lawrence of Arabia.
22. I love you because you early on decided to limit your number of roles and focus on perfecting each part in turn, instead of going from film to film.
23. I love you because you dealt with the slow decline of your career as you aged out of young hero roles by taking a sabbatical, from 1976 to 1981.
24. I love you because you married in 1966, 50 years ago this year, to Saira Banu, the rising female star of the day.
25. I love you because you and Saira, despite a few ups and downs (rumors of a second wife), are still devoted to each other today.
26. I love you because you came back to films in 1981 with a massive multi-starrer, a film which matched the new temperament of the new age, Kranti.
27. I love you because now that you had embraced your role as a character actor, you went into it with gusto, taking on role after role in the part of the family patriarch.
28. I love you because you were still able to put in a great performance when given a patriarch with a little more depth, for instance in Ramesh Sippy’s Shakti.
29. Or in Yash Chopra’s Mashaal, which unfortunately flopped.
30. But not in Yash Chopra’s Parampara, which was just TERRIBLE (as described here). But I still love you, because you kept showing up and going to work even when you must have known this film was not working.
31. I love you because you had a song with a baby! A BABY! It’s my fatal weakness.
32. And finally, I love you because I love how much everyone else loves you, the respect and caring we can see from your peers of multiple generations in photos like this, taken by FilmFare for their “100 Years of Cinema” special issue.