Amjad Khan loved tea. Once Amjad Bhai wanted to see the audience reaction in the theatre for his movie himself and went in a disguise. He took the cinema hall owner into confidence and told him that his only request was that constantly cups of tea had to be sent to him. Towards the end of the movie, the hall owner told him that they had run out of milk.
The next day, Amjad Bhai sent a cow to the cinema hall owner as a gift.
That’s Amjad Khan for you, a ferocious villain in reel life and a kind-hearted humorous man in real life. Today is his birth anniversary, so let us go on a trivia journey about his life and movies.
Amjad Bhai’s signature role was of Gabbar Singh. It was destiny that he did this iconic role since the 1st and unanimous choice was Danny Dengzongpa. However, Dharmatma, the 1st Hindi Movie to be shot in Afghanistan had also cast Danny, and the dates of shooting clashed, hence Danny opted out. Salim had Amjad Khan in mind for the role, but reportedly Javed wanted to go a different way, as his voice was “weak”. Ramesh Sippy used his veto, and the rest is history.
Gabbar Singh was so popular that Amjad Bhai even did an advertisement for Britannia biscuits in which the tag line was “Gabbar ka asli pasand, Glucose biscuits”. Possibly this could be the 1st time, a villain was breaking the fourth wall/crossing over to real life and endorsing a popular product.
What a tremendous debut indeed for Amjad Khan, and destiny indeed for there were chances that his father Jayant Saab would see him launched as a hero in Patthar Ke Sanam, 8 years ago, which did not materialize. Sadly, his dad passed away just 12 days before Sholay’s release.
Amjad Bhai did so many memorable movies it is difficult to pick out a few. In his career spanning just 17 years, he did almost 200 movies and also tried his hand at direction. Both his movies as director, namely Chor Police and Ameer Aadmi Gareeb Aadmi featured Shatrughan “Shotgun” Sinha who incidentally had a chance to play Jai of Sholay.
Amitabh-Amjad were a terrific duo in so many movies together, including Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, Satte pe Satta, Mr. Natwarlal, Nastik, Laawaris, Barsaat ki ek raat, Desh Premee, Kaalia, Ram Balram, Kasme Vaade, Khoon Pasina, Parvarish, Desh Premee and many more.
A special mention needs to be made of Yaarana, where Amitabh Bachchan and Amjad were friends. Amjad won Filmfare Best Supporting Actor for this movie. He went on to win this award as well for Dada which had Vinod Mehra as the hero. Reportedly, the entire movie of Yaarana was shot in the 7am to 8am slot as that was the only hour in which Amitabh was free, and the director was insistent on having a movie on the friendship between Mr Bachchan and Amjad Bhai.
The two friends were with each other in the most horrific accidents of their lives. During the shooting of “The Great Gambler”, Amjad had a terrible accident, and Amitabh left his work to be with his friend. All paperwork and other formalities were taken care by Amitabh since Amjad Bhai’s wife was hospitalized as well. So also, when Amitabh was seriously injured while shooting for Coolie, Amjad stayed with the megastar the entire night and ran around to help the family.
Interestingly, another landmark Amitabh-Amjad movie, Mr Natwarlal too was shot in a similar way, amidst Amitabh’s hectic schedule. Both Amitabh and Rekha were very busy and only 7am-9am slot was available, and that was used for making the movie. This was the 1st movie to have a song by Amitabh, “Mere paas aao mere doston, ek kissa suno.”. Amjad plays the role of a criminal, Vikram Singh, who terrorizes villagers using a tiger.
In Laawaris too, Amjad was not exactly the villain, and he plays the role of Amitabh’s father, who had disowned his mom Rakhee as he is born out of wedlock, while his legitimate son Ranjeet plays the villain.
Amjad Khan was an actor par excellence, and what better example to substantiate this than the great Satyajit Ray waiting for three months as he wanted Amjad to play a key role in Shatranj Ke Khilari.
Amjad had a flair for comedy as well, which was seen in Qurbani, Love Story, and Chameli Ki Shaadi. He also won the Filmfare Best Comedian Award for Maa Kasam, starring Mithun.
This all-time great of Indian movies passed away very early when he was just 51 years of age. However, he will live on as a legend, be in our memory forever.
Happy Birthday, Amjad Bhai!