Raaj Kumar (8 October 1926–3 July 1996), born Kulbhushan Pandit, was an actor. He worked as sub-inspector of Mumbai Police in the late 1940s before he turned to acting with the 1952 film Rangeeli. He appeared in the Oscar-nominated 1957 film Mother India and went on to star in over 70 Hindi films in a career that spanned over four decades.
Raaj Kumar made his acting debut in the 1952 film Rangili and appeared in films like Aabshar, Ghamand and Lakhon Mein Ek, but it was as Prince Naushazad in Sohrab Modi’s Nausherwan-E-Adil (1957) that he became famous. In 1957, he achieved prominence with his brief role as the husband of Nargis in Mother India. He followed this with the unglamorous role of a mill worker in Paigham (1959) alongside Dilip Kumar. He was cast with Sunil Dutt, Shashi Kapoor and Balraj Sahni in Yash Chopra’s family drama Waqt. In Sridhar’s Dil Ek Mandir, Raaj Kumar played the role of a cancer patient for which he won the Filmfare Award in the Best supporting actor category for movies Dil Ek Mandir and Waqt. He became known for his distinct style of dialogue delivery.
His other notable films included Hamraaz (1967), Heer Raanjha (1971), Lal Patthar (1971) and Pakeezah (1972). He acted in fewer films by the mid 1970s and became a character actor in the 1980s with films like Kudrat (1981), Ek Nai Paheli (1984), Marte Dam Tak (1987), Muqaddar Ka Faisla (1987) and Jung Baaz (1989). In 1991, he reunited with Dilip Kumar after 32 years in Subhash Ghai’s Saudagar and appeared in the 1992 hit film Tirangaa. His last film appearance was in 1995’s God & Gun.
From his screen debut in Rangili in 1952 to his last film God & Gun in 1995, he played memorable characters in 70-odd films.