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King of style

entertainment Updated: Apr 28, 2009 01:37 IST
Shashi Baliga
Shashi Baliga
Hindustan Times
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One beautiful woman after the other, the best cars, the most stylish suits, race horses, a sprawling farmhouse, and the suavest manner you’ve ever seen in a Hindi film star — Feroz Khan lived the kind of life that most men dream of but few can gather the flamboyance to carry off.

What made this Khan’s style irresistible was the fact that it was not derived from his expensive clothes and cars or his ultra-luxe lifestyle; it was part of his DNA. You could no more separate the style from the man than you could the Scotch from his drink. Moreover, his graciousness was not selective; he knew how to treat a lady and every woman — whether she was a receptionist, a junior artiste, an usher at an awards function or a superstar — was greeted with the same gallantry.

It was part of his Pathan makeup, he declared; he was immensely proud of his ancestry, though he grew up in rather more sedate Bangalore. His Pathan blood showed up unmistakably onscreen too, in the languid yet macho grace of his screen persona and the testosterone-driven films he chose to make, full of action, horses, flashy sports cars and beautiful women.

His Qurbani (1980) is a landmark in Hindi cinema; it was the first time Hollywood-style gloss was used in a Hindi film to such remarkable effect. He gave his film a slick storyline with amoral streaks, he made his heroine a cabaret singer, he got a young Pakistani singer, Nazia Hassan, to sing ‘Aap Jaisa Koi’, he happily bashed up a brand new Mercedes Benz for an action sequence (all of which would be newsworthy even today). Qurbani became the biggest hit of his career and the film that best defined him.

In any case, Khan rarely went by the formula (on screen or off it). While other filmmakers trotted off to Switzerland and Kashmir (and still do), he chose to go to rugged Afghanistan for Dharmatma way back in 1975. (Over three decades later, in 2006, when Kabir Khan set his Kabul Express there, it was considered an offbeat location).

His passion for racing showed up in films like Apradh (1972) and Janasheen (2003); his appreciation of the female form meant that his heroines always looked good. He liked to put his leading ladies, from Mumtaz to Celina Jaitley in bikinis, but shot them so tastefully that no one complained.

In personal life, after his divorce from wife Sundari, he preferred ’em young and flaunted them too.

Feroz lived with son Fardeen and daughter-in-law Natasha (Mumtaz’s daughter) in his ornate, delightfully-named mansion, F K House.

His last months must have been filled with pain, but it was kept very private. A brave finale for a gutsy adventurer. Till the end, Feroz Khan remained a man’s man.