A noted Hindi and Bengali film actor, Pradeep Kumar is best remembered for his performances in Mughal period dramas. Born Sital Batabyal, Pradeep Kumar began his career in 1944 as an assistant to cameraman Dhiren Dey in Calcutta. It was after director Debaki Bose spotted him in a play that he joined New Theatres as an actor.
Though his debut film, Alaknanda (1947), did not succeed at the box office, he was noticed for his roles in revolutionary and nationalistic Bengali films such as Bhuli Naai (1948) and Byalis, or ’42 (1949). Switching to Filmistan in the 1950s, Pradeep Kumar acted in the screen adaptation of Bankim Chandra Chatterjee’s novel, Anandmath, in which he worked with such stars as Prithviraj Kapoor and Geeta Bali. Anandmath was followed by hits, Anarkali and Nagin, that put the spotlight on Pradeep Kumar. His other important films include Razia Sultan, Aarti, and Chitralekha.
Even though Pradeep Kumar acted in films belonging to genres other than the historical, he is famous for his portrayals of kings and princes. His splendid performance as Prince Salim in Nandlal Jaswantlal’s tragic love story Anarkali, and as Shah Jahan in M. Sadiq’s Taj Mahal, demonstrated his ability to slip into royal roles with ease. He also directed Do Dilon Ki Dastaan in 1966.