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Hindi Cinema Icon Ashok Kumar Dies

December 10, 2001

NEW DELHI, India (AP) _ Ashok Kumar, an icon of Indian cinema who wowed audiences in some 250 films, died Monday at the age of 90.

Kumar had worked in India’s film industry _ the world’s largest _ for more than 60 years and was admired as one of the best-looking leading men in the business. In his first film, German director Franz Osten told Kumar he would never make it in film because of his ``tremendous jaw,″ United News of India reported.

``For me, he was the man who could do amazing thing ... the invisible man,″ said Mahesh Bhatt, a Hindi filmmaker who knew Kumar since his childhood. ``Now he is himself invisible.″

``He marks the end of a definitive era,″ said Bhatt.

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said Kumar ``had an emotive appeal that transcended all barriers.″

Kumar had been confined to his bed in recent months with various ailments, the news agency reported.

Born Kumud Ganguly, Kumar was the eldest of the three brothers who changed their names and became popular in cinema. His brother Kishore was a hugely popular singer and actor.

He first graduated law school before making his debut in cinema in 1936, opposite Devika Rani, the top leading lady of her time. He went on to star in movies ranging from mushy romances to nail-biting thrillers.

Kumar, honored with the Dada Saheb Phalke award, Indian cinema’s biggest honor, is survived by his daughter Preeti Ganguly, Press Trust of India reported.

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