Amjad Khan Biography
Amjad Khan (Hindi: अमजद खान, 12 November 1940 – 27 July 1992) was an acclaimed Indian actor and director He worked in over 130 films in his film career spanning nearly twenty years. He enjoyed iconic popularity for his villain roles in Hindi language films — he is most famous for playing the role of the dacoit Gabbar Singh in Sholay (1975).
Personal life and education
Amjad Khan was born in Hyderabad. He was the son of legendary actor Jayant, to Muslim parents. He was the brother of fellow actor Imtiaz Khan and Inayat Khan who only acted in one film. In 1957, he was cast in the movie Ab Dili Dur Nahin, as a child artist. His family hails from Ghazni, the pathan region of Afghanistan.
Khan did schooling at St Theresa's High School, Bandra. He attended R D National College, Bandra and was the General Secretary - the highest elected student body representative. He had already gained a reputation of being a heavyweight "dada" and was feared and respected.
In 1972, he married Sheila Khan, and the following year, she gave birth to their first child, Shadaab Khan, who acted in a few films. He also had a daughter Ahlam Khan and another son Seemaab Khan.
He was said to have an affair with actress Kalpana Iyer, who after his death didn't marry anyone.
Before Amjad came to films he was a theatre actor. His first film was as a child artist at the age of 17 in the film Ab Dilli Dur Nahin (1957). He had assisted K. Asif in the film Love and God in the late 1960s and had also made a brief appearance in the film which would have been his official film debut. But the film was left incomplete after K. Asif's death in 1971 and it ended up releasing in 1986. In 1973, he made his film debut in Hindustan Ki Kasam (1973).
In 1975 he was offered the role of a dacoit Gabbar Singh for the film Sholay (meaning flames) by Salim who was one of the film's writers. For his preparation for the role Amjad read Abhishapth Chambal, a book on Chambal dacoits written by Taroon Kumar Bhaduri (actress Jaya Bhaduri's father). Amjad shot to stardom with the movie. His portrayal of Gabbar Singh is considered by many to be the first depiction of pure evil on the screen in Indian Cinema; a totally evil character who doesn't make excuses for its evil. "Arre O' Samba, Kitne Aadmi The"— is the most popular line of Bollywood ever mouthed
The movie Sholay is one of the all time blockbuster movies in India and one of the highest earners, and although the movie had a cast of superstars including Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra the most memorable character was considered to be that of Gabbar Singh. Amjad Khan later appeared in advertisements as Gabbar Singh endorsing Parle-G biscuits, and it was the first incidence of a villain being used to sell a popular product.
After the success of Sholay Khan continued to play villain roles in many subsequent Hindi films in the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s - superseding, in terms of popularity and demand, the earlier Indian actor, Ajit - portraying more sophisticated and urbane criminal bosses, mastermind of bank robberies, murders and conspiracies to seize power. He often acted as villain opposite Amitabh Bachchan as the hero.
Khan was also acclaimed for playing many other unconventional roles. In the critically acclaimed film Shatranj Ke Khiladi (1977), directed by Satyajit Ray, Khan played the helpless and deluded monarch Wajid Ali Shah, whose kingdom, Avadh, is being targeted by British colonialists from the British East India Company. He played his only positive roles opposite Amitabh Bachchan in Yaarana (1981) where he played Bachchan's character's best friend and in Laawaris as Amitabh's father. In the art film Utsav (1984), he portrayed Vatsayana, the author of the Kama Sutra. In 1988 he appeared in the Merchant-Ivory English film The Perfect Murder as an underworld don. He also played comic characters in films such as Qurbani (1980) and Chameli Ki Shaadi (1986). In 1991, he again played Gabbar Singh in Ramgarh Ke Sholay, a parody of the legendary film which also included a look-alike of Amitabh Bachchan and Dev Anand.
He also ventured into directing for a brief period in the 1980s directing and also starring in Chor Police (1983) and Ameer Aadmi Gareeb Aadmi (1985) but both films failed to do well at the box office.
Amjad was also the President of the Actor's GUILD association. As mentioned earlier, he had been a leader in college and was respected in the adult film industry too.He would intervene and negotiate disputes between actors and directors/producers. There was one such dispute in which Dimple Kapadia had agreed to play a role of a mother in a movie and later backed down. The entire film producer community tried to boycott her. Amjad did intervene on behalf of the actor's guild.
In 1976, he had met with a near fatal accident on the Bombay-Goa road, when he drove his car into a tree while trying to avoid a boulder. The drugs administered to him for treatment caused a serious weight problem for the rest of his life. As a result of his increasing weight he died in 1992 after suffering from a heart failure at the age of 51.
Several of the films he had completed when he was alive were released after his death - right until 1996.
His funeral procession passed from his house in Pali Hill to the Muslim Burial in Bandra East. All major movie stars at that time attended and could be seen walking through the narrow lanes of Bandra.