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Feroz Khan reminisced

I met Feroz Khan for the last time about three years ago. Movie town was buzzing over his Qurbani remake. Late one evening, I whizzed in through the gates of his Juhu bungalow hoping to get an exclusive on the already hyped project, recalls Roshmila Bhattacharya.

entertainment Updated: May 12, 2009 13:15 IST
Roshmila Bhattacharya

I’m heartbroken.. my khubsoorat naujawan is gone. That’s how he was described in several of his films. When I pointed this out to him once, he turned a beetroot red and mumbled, “Really? Must be just a coincidence!” May be it was but it was apt too for someone who even at 70-plus was the coolest dude I knew.. Hollywood in Bollywood.

I met Feroz Khan for the last time about three years ago. Movie town was buzzing over his Qurbani remake. Late one evening, I whizzed in through the gates of his Juhu bungalow hoping to get an exclusive on the already hyped project.

It was like being on a movie set.. cascading fountains, lulling music, an exotic foreign beauty who didn’t understand a word of English and who was introduced as a “young friend”, the best Malt whiskey that I was offered and turned down for a glass of Perrier and FK, king size, lord and master in his world.

Flashback.. flashforward
The interview hit a roadblock straightaway. Qurbani was still strictly under wraps, I was told, and would be unwrapped only at a press conference in a month’s time. But I refused to be shooed off. If we couldn’t flash forward then we could go into flashback, mode take a safar down movie lane, I suggested. He agreed and soon was crooning Jo tumko ho pasand.. “the song that all the ladies seem to love”.

Eventually, we got to Qurbani too. FK admitted that he’d confirmed Saif (Ali Khan) and son Fardeen for the male leads played by Vinod Khanna and him in the original.

“I’ll be the cop, a role that brings back memories of my friend Amjad Khan who, God bless his soul, died too young. He never touched a drop of liquour but he drank 50 cups of tea everyday with a spoonful of sugar in each. It was the chai that killed him,” sighed the man who loved his booze and bidis.

Yes, bidis. I remember spotting a packet of them on his office table once. He caught my bemused expression and told me they were custom made for him, at a factory in Banglaore, and better than cigarettes any day. I wonder today if it was the bidis that took him away.

That’s a smash hit!
Cut to Qurbani. There’s a lot to remember it by.. Zeenat Aman’s full blown bikini shot that Feroz refused to cut and the censors retaliated by giving the film an ‘A’ certificate.. 16-year-old Nazia Hasan’s Aap jaisa koi mere zindagi mein ayee that became the nation’s chant.. a brand new Mercedes Benz that was smashed up in an action scene. “I think I’ll bash a Ferrari this time,” FK smiled, when reminded of the scene. “That’s what people will expect from Feroz Khan.”

He went on to tell me about how Indeevar had written just two lyrics for him.. the Janasheen title track and Qurbani qurbani qurbani. “His words qurbani qurbani qurbani, qurbani hai yaari, yaari hai qurbani..struck an immediate chord. But I suggested a slight change, qurbani, qurbani, qurbani, Allah ko pyaari hai qurbani. I can’t read musical notes and I’m tone deaf but I have an ear for music and poetry,” pointed out FK as he escorted me out.

Dream interrupted
He told me to expect a formal announcement in a month’s time. He planned to go on the sets in September-October 2006 and was looking to a mid-2007 release. “You know, 2005 was Qurbani’s silver jubilee year and it seems appropriate to raise a toast to one of my biggest successes in this manner. At a time when so many producer-directors are remaking other people’s films, I’ll remake my own film,” he asserted exuberantly.

Soon after, he fell ill. And though he battled valiantly, he had to eventually succumb to the cancer. Today, as I write this piece, Qurbani, qurbani, qurbani, is ringing in my ears. I hope Fardeen keeps his promise to his dad and remakes the film some day soon. Feroz Khan is gone but I still want to raise a toast to Qurbani even if it is with Perrier.