Amjad Khan

Amjad Khan

Amjad Khan ( _hi. अमजद खान, 12 November 194027 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).

Early life

Amjad Khan the son of legendary actor Jayant was born in Hyderabad in 1940 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. Around 1972, he married Sheila Khan, and the following year, she gave birth to their first child, Shadaab Khan, who acted in a few films only. He also had a daughter Ahlam Khan and son Seemaab Khan.

Amjad Khan did schooling at St Theresa's High School , Bandra. He attended R D National College in 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.


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.

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 Brittania 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 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.

elected Filmography


* "Rudaali" (1993)
* "In Custody" (1993)
*"Ramgarh Ke Sholay" (1991)
*"Love" (1991)
*"Lekin" (1990)
*"The Perfect Murder" (1988)
*"Vikram" (1986)
*"Chameli Ki Shaadi" (1986)
*"Utsav" (1984)
*"Bindiya Chamkegi" (1984)
*"Nastik" (1983)
*"Mahaan" (1983)
* "Satte Pe Satta" (1982)
* "Desh Premee" (1982)
* "Kaalia" (1981)
* "Rocky" (1981)
* "Lawaaris" (1981)
* "Katilon Ke Kaatil" (1981)
* "Yaarana" (1981)
* "Barsaat Ki Ek Raat" (1981)
* "Naseeb" (1981)
* "Zamane Ko Dikhana Hai" (1981)
* "Maan Gaye Ustad" (1981)
* "Love Story" (1981)
* "Qurbani" (1980)
* "Ram Balram" (1980)
* "Ahsaas" (1979)
* "Suhaag" (1979)
* "Mr. Natwarlal" (1979)
* "Muqaddar Ka Sikander" (1978)
* "Ganga Ki Saugandh" (1978)
* "Des Pardes" (1978)
*" Kasme Vaade" (1978)
*" Parvarish" (1977)
* "Shatranj Ke Khiladi" (1977)
* "Hum Kisi Se Kum Nahin" (1977)
* "Ginny Aur Johnny" (1976)
* "Sholay" (1975)
* "Hindustan Ki Kasam" (1973)
* "Ab Dilli Dur Nahin" (1957)


*"Ameer Aadmi Gareeb Aadmi" (1985)
*"Chor Police" (1983)

External links


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.