Ajit

  Hindi Film     Main Lead, Supporting Actor    27 Jan 1922

  Ajit – ‘Lion’ among the Villains of Bollywood "Saara shaher mujhe Loin ke naam se jaanta hai," roared Ajit, and the line is still remembered by movie buffs. Truly  the ‘Lion’ among villains of the 70s in Hindi cinema, Ajit’s biggest contribution to films has been his revolutionary, savvy gentlemanly style that he imparted to villainy, which for long had been typecast as loud and wild. Ajit’s unique style and his one liner ‘Mona Darling’ became so popular that even today, after his death he is among the most copied actors.  
Born on   27 January 1922
Screen Name/ Original Name   Ajit Hamid Ali Khan
Parents   Bashir Ali Khan    
Siblings   One brother Wahid Ali Khan and 2 sisters.    
Children   3 sons shahid Ali Khan, zahid Ali Khan, Abid Ali Khan
Early Life   Sold college books and run to Mumbai to become hero   Ajit was born in Golconda. He took his early education in Warangal district of Andhra Pradesh. Ajit had no passion for studies hence he sold his college books and run away to Mumbai to try his luck in cinema as Hero.  
Career     Dream of hero was shattered; began with character roles   Fascinated by his handsome looks Ajit landed in Mumbai to become hero in the early 40’s but after much struggle he realized it was not a cakewalk to become a hero in Bollywood.   Though he was handsome and had a good voice but he came from Hyderabad hence his Hyderabadi accent created problem. Secondly he was extremely poor in dancing hence he had to face bitter rejection from many filmmaker.   Finally when surviving in Mumbai became tough he gave up the dream of hero roles and grabbed whatever came his way.    Thus his first role was a minor act in the film Kurukshetra (1945) staring superstar of the 40’s K.L.Saigal. However the tag that he had acted opposite K.L.Saigal helped him and he got more minor roles in films like Jeevan Saathi (1949), Patanga (1949), Beqasoor (1950), Saiyan (1951), Sarkar (1951) etc.   Ajit debuts as Hero but fails to sustain stardom   After a long struggle of over a decade finally Ajit got his first film Dholak (1951) as hero opposite hit heroine of 50’s Meena Shorey. The film was her home production and was directed by Roop Shorey.   The highlight of the film was its popular music by music director Shyam Sunder. Even today the song Halla Gulla…. From the film is a hit. It was sensational hit song as Ek Do teen….. from film Tejab or Juma Chumma de de… (Hum).   The movie opened doors for Ajit as a hero and he did gave some hit films as Hero like Nastik, Bada Bhai, Milan, Baradari, Halaku etc  but his inning as a hero did not last long as the era was ruled by the trio Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand.   Whatever films Ajit got were mostly B-Grade action thrillers and majority of films were bitter failures!     Filmmaker B.R.Chopra gives a new lease of life to Ajit   When Ajit was struggling as a hero as most of his films were not doing well at the box office he was rescued by film legend B.R.Chopra.   Chopra signed him to play a second lead opposite Superstar Dilip Kumar in his film Naya Daur (1957).   Recalling the episode B.R.Chopra in an interview said, “I was looking for an artist who was tall, sturdy and had rugged appearance. An actor who was apt to play a labor’s job. Hence I decided to cast Ajit.”   He adds, “However everybody was against my choice even Dilip Sahab was stunned and argued that he is a flop actor and has the terrible reputation of being a B-Grade movie star. But I assured Dilip Sahab.”    “When I called Ajit in my office and offered him the role, he too was left dumbfounded! In disbelief he asked me how did I believe that he could play well opposite Dilip Kumar? I told him my intuition said he'd be perfectly suited for the role," recalled Chopra.   He informed, “Ajit was so pleased that he did not even ask me for the fees and gave his career’s most profound performance. Even Dilip Sahab was left awestruck by his sterling performance and acknowledged me for my right decision!”   Dilip Kumar recommends Ajit in Mughal-e-Azam   Initially actor Jairaj was the original choice of filmmaker K Asif in the dynamic role of Durjan Singh, the faithful Rajput soldier, who lies down his life to protect Anarkali and before dying safely hands Anarkali to Prince Salim (Dilip Kumar). However when K.Asif revamped the film’s casting it was Dilip Kumar who suggested him to cast Ajit in the role of Durjan Singh as  Dilip Kumar was bowled over by Ajit’s marvelous performance in Naya Daur.    K Asif obliged and Ajit yet again gave an effective performance which till date remains immortal   Actor Rajendra Kumar is responsible  for making Ajit a Villain   Though Ajit won laurels for his two parallel roles in Mughal-e-Azam and Naya Daur opposite Dilip Kumar, however Ajit had nothing exciting to do in the mid 60’s.   Ajit had almost given up and was above to quit films, when his friend actor Rajendra Kumar cajoled him into trying his hand at a negative role in his forthcoming film Suraj.   Ajit agreed and the rest is history. Suraj was super-duper hit, and helped Ajit in starting a fresh innings in Bollywood as villain.      
Awards    
Other works    
Milestones   Zanjeer made Ajit immortal as the sophisticated villain    Though Suraj made Ajit the most sought-after villain, the film that established Ajit as the most sophisticated and savvy villain was Amitabh Bachchan starrer Zanjeer.   In this film Ajit introduced his trademark style of an ‘aristocratic’ villain, who is soft spoken and elegant.   In an interview, Ajit had revealed how he had picked up this style, "The character Dharamdas Teja which I portrayed in Zanjeer was inspired from a real-life personality. He was a rich man living in Hyderabad by the same name. He was a tall and always dressed in a sherwani. I happened to bump into him at a party and was very impressed by his personality.”   He informs, “The striking feature of this man was the way he conversed. He was very soft-spoken. When Salim-Javed, the writers of the film, requested me to add some ‘innovation’ to the character, I was immediately reminded of this particular person and I acted out his style for them. Both were impressed and so was Prakash Mehra, the director."   Thus as Zanjeer gave a new lease of life to Amitabh Bachchan, Ajit found a new image as villain after Zanjeer. He started a new innings in his career.   Here was a new villain who was soft-spoken yet forceful. Further with films like Yadoon Ki Baraat, Kalicharan, Khaote Sikke, Warrant, Jugnu etc Ajit ruled Bollywood in 70’s and 80’s.    In fact even in the 90’s whenhe made a comeback; he was given a red carpet welcome in Ajay Devgan film Jigar!!!