Amjad Khan

  Hindi Film     Producer, Main Lead, Supporting Actor, Director, Music Director, Lyricist, Singer, Story Writer, Screenplay, Dialogue    12 Nov 1940

Amjad Khan shall remain immortal as Gabbar Singh

Kitne Aadmi The…. When Gabbar Singh, the dreaded dacoit in the film Sholay uttered this dialogue cinema houses across India reverberated with thundering echoes of claps and whistles!

Ramesh Sippy the film director, who had introduced a new actor, heaved a sigh of relief, as his gamble had succeeded! The new actor was Amjad Khan , who literally took away all the laurels and glory from the horde of top stars like Sanjeev Kumar, Dharmendra, Hema MaliniAmitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan !

But what is most painful is that though Amjad Khan became a household name after Sholay  but the Filmfare award did not find him suitable worth Best Supporting Actor (In those days there was no category for Best Villains) hence despite nominating Amjad Khan in Sholay, Filmfare awarded the Best Supporting actor award to Shashi Kapoor in Deewaar!!!

Nevertheless Amjad Khan went on to prove his genius with hit films like Dada, Qurbani, Love Story, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, Lawaris etc.
Born on 12 November 1940
Screen Name/ Original Name Amjad Khan / Amjad Zakaria Khan
Parents Jayant (Famous Actor)
Siblings Imtiaz Khan (Famous Actor of early 70) Inayat Khan. (Did only one film)
Spouse Shehla Khan
Children 2 son - Shadaab Khan and Seemaab Khan. 1 daughter Ahlam Khan.
Early Life Amjad Khan was suspended from school for being violent

Amjad Khan came to Mumbai from Peshawar after partition. Like a typical Peshawari Pathan he was hot headed and ruffian since childhood.

In an interview recalling his childhood Amjad said, “Being a son of star father and a pampered boy I was violent in my childhood and would hit anybody, without thinking twice. In class IX, I  hit the priest of my school at St. Andrews School as he told something derogatory about Islam. I was suspended from the school.

Won the President Award for University Play Competition

More than studies Amjad Khan was more interested in dramatics and was the secretary at the R D National College, Bandra. He has the distinction of winning the President Award for his College play, ‘Aye Mere Watan Ke Logon’.
Personal Life Amjad Khan and his wife Shehla were childhood friends Amjad Khan and Shehla, his wife,  lived in the same building in Bandra opposite Mehboob Studio.  The two used to play together and as they grew, love blossomed and the two decided to marry. But Shehla’s father distinguished film writer Akhtar ul Iman (he wrote hit films like Waqt and Daag ) did not permit as he wanted his daughter to study. But Amjad won over Shehla with his antics and the duo married on August 17, 1972.

They had a wonderful married life.
Career Amjad Khan ’s initial tryst with Bollywood was a failure

After studies Amjad Khan made his debut in Bollywood in the film Nazneen (1951). Later he did many minor roles in films like film Ab Dilli Dur Nahin but was a failure.

On his father actor Jayant ’s request filmmaker K.Asif  (Who made Mughal-E-Azam) appointed him as his assistant director but alas K.Asif died in 1971 leaving the film Love and God incomplete. Amjad was shattered.

Once again he got a break as an artist in Chetan Anand’s film Hindustan Ki Kasam (1973) but the film failed and Amjad Khan returned to theatre after being dejected with Bollywood.

Amjad Khan struggled 12 years in Bollywood and quit after miserable letdown.

Roadside astrologer predicted Amjad Khan Success in Bollywood

After being literally thrown out from Bollywood, Amjad Khan was a disappointed man.

Once while walking on the streets in Mumbai he happened to try his luck with a roadside astrologer sitting on footpath with a parrot.

The parrot pulled a card. To Amjad’s amazement the card predicted a bright future in Bollywood. Amjad gave a laugh and moved away.

To his pleasant surprise that evening his friend Salim (Of Salim Javed fame) knocked his door and asked Amjad  to meet filmmaker Ramesh Sippy . He told him that they are looking for a new actor for their film Sholay .

The next day Amjad  was at Sippy Films office and film director Ramesh Sippy was left dazed with Amjad Khan’s towering personality and thundering voice.

He was selected for the role of Gabbar Singh and rest is history!

When the film released Gabbar Singh became a national craze! When Danny Denzongpa, who was originally to play the role, saw the film he repented missing such a great character!

The Amjad Khan - Amitabh Bachchan Jodi

After the mega success of Sholay  the Amitabh Bachchan  and Amjad Khan Jodi became so popular that the two worked in many films and were the heartthrob of the cine buffs.

The duo worked in more than 25 movies. Most notable are Laawaris, Naseeb, Suhaag, Mr. Natwarlal, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, Kasme Vaade, Ganga Ki Saugand, Parvarish etc

The magic of Amitabh Bachchan  and Amjad Khan  was so great that in the film Satte Pe Satta film director Raj N Sippy just gave an outline script for the famous ‘drunken scene’ minus dialogue but thanks to the marvelous chemistry between Amitabh Bachchan  and Amjad Khan the scene turned out to be the most iconic comedy scene of Indian Cinema.

Amjad Khan became a ‘Star’ character actor

In the late 70’s and early 80’s Amjad Khan became a name to reckon and films were specially written for Amjad Khan in key roles. Who can forget movies like Dada, Raakhi Ki Saugandh , Pyaara Dushman, Yari Dushmani and Bambai Ka Maharaja.

In fact in Bambai Ka Mahaaraja Amjad Khan played triple role and was also the hero of the film.

Some filmmakers even tried to recreate Sholay  magic and made a film Ramgarh Ke Sholay staring Amjad Khan.

Amjad Khan proved his versatility as a competent actor.

Fed up with villainy Amjad Khan proved his versatility in comedy with movies like Qurbani, Love Story, Chameli Ki Shaadi , Hum Se Badkar Kaun , Utsav etc.

Besides comedy Amjad Khan did a verity of roles like emotion and tragedy in Yarana, Lawaris, etc.

Apart from commercial cinema he also displayed his versatility working with art filmmakers like Satyajit Ray’s Shatranj Ke Khilari in which he played the role of Wajid Ali Shah to perfection.

He also worked with Girish Karnad in his period film Utsav and gave a hilarious touch to the character Vatsayana, author of Kama Sutra.

He also did Merchant-Ivory English film The Perfect Murder as an underworld don.

Amjad Khan failed as a director

After an exciting career in acting Amjad Khan tried his hand at direction and not only burnt his hand as a director but lost huge amount as producer. As a result he had to do ridiculous role to make his ends meet in his end!

The movies he produced and directed were Chor Police (1983), and Ameer Aadmi Gareeb Aadmi (1985).
Awards Filmfare Awards

Best Supporting Actor for Dada  (1979)

Best Supporting Actor for Yarana (1981)

Best Comedian for Maa Kasam (1985)
Other works He was director and producer.
Milestones What made Amjad Khan  different in Sholay?

Indisputably with Sholay, Amjad Khan became immortal and his performance as Gabbar Singh is the milestone performance of his career.

But the multi-dollar question is what made Amjad Khan different in Sholay?

His character of Gabbar Singh in Sholay is nothing new and it was the same repeated dacoit seen in many Bollywood films! Yet Amjad Khan made a difference!

Well, besides the unconventional costume i.e. instead of the characteristic dhoti, tilak and pagadi, Gabbar Singh, the dacoit in Sholay was shown wearing pant –shirts and shoes. This unique idea was invented by Amjad Khan, who did a lot of research on the character and to his surprise he found a dacoit living in the 50’s by the same name!!

The specialty of this dacoit was he used to wear green color pant-shirt so that if was seen from distance he was mistaken to be a jawan.

In addition to the costume Amjad Khan worked on his body language, walking style, Bhojpuri language, eating style of Gutka and infused much gory through his electrifying performance and deadly voice.

The overall impact was so menacing that despite being a newcomer, Amjad Khan stole thunder right under the nose of legendary actors like Sanjeev Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra.


He died of heart attack on 27 July 1992 at the age of 51