Bollywood Legends - Amjad Khan
"Arre O’ Samba, Kitne Aadmi The”— thus goes the most popular line of Bollywood ever mouthed. Generations of children that have grown ever since Sholay (1976) was made, have imbibed this and other dialogues of the GP Sippy classic as staple learning. A large chunk of credit for popularisation of Sholay goes to Amjad Khan Alias Gabbar Singh. So powerful was the screen impact of Amjad that the character of Gabbar Singh has become synonymous with vice—the epitome of a genre of evil characterised by rustic looks, hoarse voice, and cold-blooded demeanour.
Amjad Khan was born to actor father Jayant in 1940. He first got a role in Ab Dilli Dur Nahin (1957), a narrative of the socio-political post- Independence India of great substance. A journey that began from here reached its zenith in Sholay in (1976). Before that he did an assistantship with the legendary K. Asif in Love and God and quite a few roles in the theatre.
His first major break was Hindustan Ki Kasam (1973). The film was made on the theme of Indo-Pak war of 1971. Sholay happened in 1975 and catapulted him to the status of a star. It is said that to create the aura of a dacoit, Amjad actually read a book Abhishapth Chambal, written about marauders of that infested the dreaded ravines. The hoarse voice, the foibles, and an unconscionable character, played by Amjad Khan to the core created the immortal Gabbar. It soon made him a sought after actor.
What followed next was a period of hectic filmmaking. In 1976, he met a near fatal car crash. He survived the accident as destiny wanted him to script a formidable legacy of 130-odd films. In Satyajit Ray’s Shatranj Ke Khiladi, he plays the beleaguered Nawab of Awadh, Wajid Ali Shah. For this role, he got the National Award for the Best Actor.
Parvarish, Hum Kisi Se Kum Nahin, Aakhri Goli, are some of his movies of 1977. Similarly, in 1978 came such big successes as Phool Khile Hain Gulshan Gulshan, Muqadar Ka Sikander, Kame Vaade, Heeralal Pannalal, Khoon Ki Pukaar, etc. Due to the Sholay impact; he got the opportunity to act opposite Amitabh Bachchan in many movies in the heydays of the latter. In 1979, Amjad Khan played, Vikram, a notorious smuggler that drives Amitabh Bachchan (Natwarlal) to unscrupulous ways. Hum Tere Aashique Hain, Chambal Ki Kasam, Suhaag, Bombay 405 Miles, Suhaag followed. Kaatil, Kalia, Laawaris, Yarana, Teesri Aankh, the list is very long. To sum it up there was hardly a block-buster in the late seventies and early eighties that didn’t have Amjad Khan as the chief negative protagonist.
In film Utsav (1986), he played the creator of Kamasutra, Vatsayana. A great hit always attracts imitations. In 1991 was produced Ramgarh Ke Sholay—a parody of the original blockbuster with Amjad Khan. The legendary actor breathed his last in 1992 due to a massive heart attack leaving behind a copious legacy. Many of his films were completed and released after his death.
Besides other recognitions, Amjad Khan was conferred the Filmfare Award on numerous occasions for the best villain. Amjad Khan was married to Sheila in 1972 and two sons, Shadaab, Seemab and a daughter Ahlaam and was born out of the wedlock. Shadaab like his father, and grandfather is dabbles in films.