Kader Khan: The man behind the magic of many of Amitabh Bachchan, Govinda films

The veteran Bollywood actor-writer Kader Khan had worked with many leading actors like Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan and Govinda and directors like Manmohan Desai and David Dhawan in his long career.
Kader Khan had been suffering from a disease called progressive supranuclear palsy.(Amlan Dutta/HT Photo)
Kader Khan had been suffering from a disease called progressive supranuclear palsy.(Amlan Dutta/HT Photo)
Updated on Jan 01, 2019 04:26 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByNivedita Mishra

Actor-writer Kader Khan died on Monday evening in Canada after fighting Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, a degenerative disease, for many years; he was 81. According to a PTI report, the late actor’s son Sarfaraz, confirming the news, said that his father passed away on December 31 at 6 pm as per Canadian time due to prolonged illness. In his death, not only has Bollywood lost a beloved character actor, it has also seen the end of era when it comes to writing. Kader Khan was a prolific writer having written dialogues for scores of films and screenplays for an equal number.

Kader Khan excelled as an actor and writer in Hindi films. (Sunil Saxena/HT Photo)
Kader Khan excelled as an actor and writer in Hindi films. (Sunil Saxena/HT Photo)

For an entire generation of Bollywood fans, Kader Khan meant comic roles as father, uncle, husband etc, in Govinda’s films. He worked in a number of David Dhawan directed Govinda films like Dulhe Raja, Coolie No.1, Saajan Chale Sasural, Aunty No.1, Bade Miyan Chote Miyan, Raja Babu, Khuddar among others. The fact remains that Kader Khan has worked with every major actor since the 1970s. Starting with late Rajesh Khanna, the actor-writer has worked with Amitabh Bachchan, Jeetendra, Feroz Khan, Anil Kapoor and Govinda. As an actor who aced comic avatars as well as villainous ones, Khan was unparalleled. Some of the funniest lines spoken by Bachchan, for instance, were Khan’s creation.

Hailing from a Pashtun family, he was born in Kabul in 1937. The family moved to Mumbai later. Going on to a teaching profession at a Mumbai college, Khan made his cinematic debut rather late in life. Aged 34 and performing at annual day play in the college, actor Dilip Kumar is said to have noticed him and invited him to do a film with him in 1971. The following year, he was given the task of writing his life’s first script with Jawani Diwani (1972) starring the reigning queen of the day, Jaya Bhaduri and Randhir Kapoor. Two years later, working with Manmohan Desai and Rajesh Khanna, he would write the dialogues of Roti and also work as a character actor. Later, in films like Parvarish, Lootmaar and Qurbani among others, he would establish himself as a villain.


Thus began a long and eventful career as an actor, script writer and dialogue writer. In many ways, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that he formed his lasting legacy of work with actors like Bachchan, Jeetendra and Govinda.

The paths of Bachchan and Khan were meant to crisscross. While many of the most iconic roles and dialogues of Amitabh were a creation of the terrific Salim-Javed combination, many others were a product of the collaboration between directors Manmohan Desai and Prakash Mehra with Khan. Khan worked as a screenplay writer with Desai in films like Coolie, Suhaag, Parvarish and Amar Akbar Anthony and films with Prakash Mehra include Lawaaris, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar respectively and a bulk of them starred Bachchan as the leading man.

Kader Khan and Raveena Tondon in Aatish. (HT Photo)
Kader Khan and Raveena Tondon in Aatish. (HT Photo)

As a dialogue writer, he would work in films like Mr Natwarlal, Khoon Pasina and Satte Pe Satta. Khan has also written screenplays for Bachchan’s films Agneepath and Naseeb. That’s a lot of work.

Khan worked in a number of successful films made by South Indian directors like K Raghavendra Rao, K Bapaiah and Narayana Rao Dasari as an actor, working alongside Asrani, Shakti Kapoor and Johnny Lever. Khan did a considerable number of films with Rajesh Khanna like Chailla Babu and Maqsad among others but they were not as successful as his work with Bachchan.

Yet another successful partnership that Khan established, both as a screenplay and dialogue writer, was with actor Jeetendra. Together they worked in a number of hit films such as Himmatwala, Jaani Dost, Justice Chaudhury, Farz Aur Kanoon, Tohfa and Qaidi among others.

Khan had been suffering for a while from a degenerative disease called supranuclear palsy that causes loss of balance, difficulty in walking and dementia. He had been staying in Canada, where his son Sarfaraz lives, and had some time back, reportedly taken Canadian citizenship.

Author tweets @mniveditatweets

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Tuesday, January 18, 2022