Feroz Khan and his films were largely about
panache and style, writes
Khan did not walk,
No wan smile for
This red-blooded man
preferred to win women with a cheesy grin that reached his
He left his shirt
unbuttoned to reveal a brawny chest and sported tight fitting
A cigarette dangled
from his lips, a femme fatale hung on his arm and a horse waited
for his bidding.
He spoke with an
The Clint Eastwood
of the East seems to have come via Texas, not Bangalore.
Feroz Khan came in
Bollywood at a time when heroes were moony-eyed, flaccid and
40-ish. He knew how to flex his biceps on screen.
His machismo earned
a broad fan-following.
He had no proper
training in acting and was anxious about whether he was getting
the camera angles and facial expressions right.
But Feroz’s good
looks soon earned the label of Killer Khan.
His admirers vouch
that tough man Khan’s appeal lay in what he held back rather
than what he expressed.
In an age when
underplaying was considered the domain of character actors like
Balraj Sahni and Motilal, Khan’s emotional economy was often
mistaken for wooden acting.
Coastweek -- Feroz
Khan in an action scene in the 1980 film Chunaoti.
Some even argued
that Khan gave a lot of emphasis on style to distract from
deficiencies in his acting.
But there is no
debating the ruggedly attractive Feroz Khan had the makings of a
Baffling but true,
the industry was reluctant to give Khan his due for a decade.
Faroz Khan was born
in Bangalore, to an Afghan immigrant.
His father belonged
to a Tanoli tribe of Pashtun ethnicity from Ghazni province of
Afghanistan while his mother was Iranian.
After acquiring an
English accent from a cosmopolitan school in Bangalore, Khan
arrived in Mumbai to make a nondescript debut in Didi (1960).
1960s, he was mired in low-budget thrillers opposite starlets:
Reporter Raju (Chitra), Samson (Ameeta), Ek Sapera Ek Lutera (Kum
Kum) and CID 909 (Mumtaz).
The budding actor
even played villainish younger brother in the Guru Dutt-Mala
Sinha weepy Bahurani (1963).
Khan fuelled his
thirst to prove himself with the taut black and white drama
Oonche Log (1965).
He played an
unrepentant playboy who impregnates his girlfriend but refuses
to marry her, robs his blind father (Ashok Kumar) and lets his
brother (Raaj Kumar) bear the brunt of his father’s whip.
Some of the shine of
his senior costars seemed to rub off on him and his confident
performance was appreciated.
The same year, Khan
reformed to play the sacrificing lover in the mushy musical
Arzoo, with big stars like Rajendra Kumar and Sadhana.
He grabbed the role
- it gave him a chance to be in the big league.
Khan earned his
entry into the A-list through strong second leads in big films
like B R Chopra’s Aadmi Aur Insaan (1969) and Asit Sen’s Safar
performance as the construction magnate with flexible morals who
declares war on his righteous friend (Dharmendra) in Aadmi Aur
Insaan won Khan the Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award.
The buzz is that in
Safar, Khan proved the bee in reigning superstar Rajesh Khanna’s
as Sharmila Tagore’s envious husband made compelling viewing.
Feroz Khan and Hema Malini during the shoot of Dharmatma.
voice resonated beautifully with Khan’s tender-tough
The romantic solo Jo
tumko ho pasand from Safar (with a musical horn accompanying
Mukesh’s voice) and the soulful solo Darpan ko dekha tune jab
jab kiya shringar from Upaasna became jukebox favourites.
Khan made it to the
grade of singing hero, a prerequisite for the Hindi film hero.
But ‘hero’ roles in
big banner films and A-list heroines were still beyond the
Tired of playing
second fiddle even to brother Sanjay (who entered the Hindi film
fray much after Feroz) in films like Mela and Upaasna, Khan
decided to become a producer-director himself.
Right from his
maiden venture Apradh (1972), high glamour and slick action were
crucial to his oeuvre.
In the Apradh, Khan
played a car racer.
He cast his
favourite heroine Mumtaz as a gangster’s stooge on a mission to
smuggle diamonds, while bedazzling Khan with her sunny smile and
A think big
specialist, he successfully shot the famous Nuremberg car race
(Germany), with the help of a prince from the royal family of
Apradh was a modest
hit and an enthused Khan, inspired by Francis Ford Coppola’s
Godfather made his next glossy saga Dharmatma (1975).
Premnath was cast in
Marlon Brando’s role, while Khan fashioned his role after Al
Top liner Hema
Malini acquiesced to play a fiery Afghan belle.
Khan shot a major
chunk of the film in Afghanistan - introducing foreign locations
to Bollywood - and incorporated exciting footage of the local
sport buzkushi where two horsemen battle for a piece of meat.
He worked for
outside producers, but was partial to curry Westerns: Khotte
Sikkey (1974), Kala Sona (1975) and Kabeela (1976).
Feroz Khan with his best friend Vinod Khanna. Both died on
same date (April 27), at same age and of same disease -
cancer. Feroz and Vinod were the two most good looking
heroes of their generation.
His obsession with
the underworld continued in his third venture Qurbani (1980), a
slick love story with action as its mainstay.
That he reduced an
expensive Mercedes to pieces for a scene was much publicised, as
was Zeenat Aman’s sexy gyrations to chanteuse Nazia Hassan’s
chartbuster Aap jaisa koi.
Qurbani was such a
big hit that it was remade in Tamil with Rajnikanth.
But his galloping
streak of luck broke into a canter after Qurbani.
In his latter-day
performances in colossal home productions like Jaanbaaz (1986),
Dayavan (the feeble 1988 adaptation of Kamal Haasan’s Nayakan)
and Yalgaar (1992), his charisma seemed frayed at the edges.
directorial venture Yalgaar (1992), he went for an 11-year old
hiatus from acting.
By 1998, Khan had
separated from his wife Sundari.
He launched his son
Fardeen with Prem Aggan, a film that failed to fire the
imagination of the masses.
Unperturbed, in 2003
he made his acting comeback as well as produced and directed
Janasheen, which also starred his son Fardeen.
He always used
performing animals in his films — a chimpanzee and lion were
used in Janasheen - but People for Animals (PFA) Haryana
chairman Naresh Kadyan moved a complaint in the court of law at
Faridabad for animal cruelty and legal action as per law against
the producer, director, and actor.
The 60-plus Feroz
was not going to hang up his cowboy boots soon.
He starred alongside
his son again in Ek Khiladi Ek Haseena (2005) and made his last
film appearance in Welcome (2007).
He appeared in over
51 films in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, and became one of
Bollywood’s popular style icons.
He was honoured with
the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000 and Zee Cine
(2008) lifetime achievement awards.
“Ferozji was known
as the rajasaab of our times.
“He was royal. He
was very loving and caring.” says Farida Jalal who worked with
Feroz Khan in quite a few films.
“The thing about
Feroz Khan is that if he liked you, he would love you to the
core and unquestioningly.
Coastweek -- The
urban Indian loved to watch Feroz Khan play the stud in
self-directed Bollywood movies.
“If he didn’t, you
should make sure you never met him again.” says Suparn Verma,
director of Ek Khiladi Ek Haseena.
A very well read man
- not just in literature but also in religious works right from
the Quran to the Bhagwad Gita - his favourite was Oscar Wilde.
He could quote Wilde
at the drop of a hat, or pull out a sher and charm a beautiful
woman. It came effortlessly to him.
The Bad And The
Beautiful (1952), an old classic film, was his favourite. It was
his dream was to make a film on it.
In May 2006, Feroz
Khan was blacklisted by then Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf
when he went there to promote his brother’s film, Taj Mahal. In
an intelligence report submitted to Musharraf, he was said to
have gotten drunk and insulted Pakistani singer and anchor
Fakhr-e-Alam and criticising the country.
commission in India and the foreign and interior ministries were
subsequently directed to deny Khan a visa in the future.
He died from lung
cancer on 27 April 2009 at the age of 69.
During his illness
he returned to rest at his farmhouse in Bangalore.
He was buried in
Bangalore near to his mother’s grave at Hosur Road Shia