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I was called the Clint Eastwood of India: Feroz Khan

Feroz Khan speaks to Shaikh Ayaz about films, family and his remake of the '80s Aap Jaisa Koi thriller Qurbani.
None | By Shaikh Ayaz, Mumbai
UPDATED ON MAR 30, 2007 05:22 PM IST

Marhaba! Sexy at 67? It’s possible..he falls in love with pretty young women..and vice versa. A career spanning over 45 years has been dotted with controversies..stories of brawls and boozed-out shindigs.

Today, the self-styled ‘khubsurat’ actor has mellowed.. as he prepares to remake 1980’s Aap jaisa koi bhi crime thriller Qurbani. So, here’s Feroz Khan’’ss dialoguebaazi with Shaikh Ayaz

I ’m at a Xanadu-like villa with thickly veined marble floors and grand sofas on which Cleopatra could recline. Crystal knick knacks dot the mantelpiece. Indeed, FK House at Juhu could be in any upscale part of the world. Even though I’m sup posed to do the questioning, a watchman puts me through the kaykoo-kyon-kya-kaun drill. He looks me up and down, from hairlocks to frayed shoes.. Rudely.

Arrives another inspector. Finally a visiting card does the trick and I’m lounging in a very patrician expanse that would fire the imagination of a thousand movie set designers. Five, four, three..two..Feroz Khan ambles in. Unlike his staff, the master is courteous, offers tea, a cold beverage. Instead I offer him the question:

Who designed this house Mr Khan?
You like it? I took a personal interest in designing it. I have a sense of aesthetics. I take pains over everything I do, particularly my films. No wonder, they’re called stylish. Right now, all my attention is on ..please spell it with a ‘k’.. Kurbani. A film like Qurbani can be enjoyed even today.

Has Kurbani been delayed because Saif Ali Khan dropped out?
Not really..but it’s true that Saif ’s dates were a problem. And Fardeen was getting increasingly busy.. I didn’t want him to drop other films for Kurbani. I announced the project last year, I hope to start filming very soon.

Isn’t it risky to re-do Qurbani over 25 years later?
Sure, the original is a landmark film. I did have some second thoughts.. but then, I’ve always been a gambler...nothing ventured, nothing gained.

You seem to be financially comfortable. Do you charge much for the roles you do in films, like the one coming up in Welcome?
Yeh dhanda hai bhai. I’m not a free dukan. In fact, I’m working for another producer after 13 years. Normally, I work only in my home productions.

Is it true that before Apradh (1972), filmmakers didn’t have faith in you as a solo hero..which is why you started producing and directing your own films?
Ha ha..not true.There has never been a shortage of offers. I was always interested in direction, so I went down that route. I think every actor has a director hidden inside him.

Would you say that you were one of the earliest actors to popularise the western..almost cowboy look?
(Smiles) I was called the Clint Eastwood of India. I would wear hats and cowboy shoes, and it worked for me. But believe me, I haven’t made movies just to give myself an image.

I’ve made movies on subjects I believed in. In over 40 years, I’ve acted in only 54 films. Many of my contemporaries and even juniors have acted in over 200 films each. In retrospect, I’m glad that I didn’t overexpose myself. As a director too, I’ve made few films..maybe eight or ten.

Do you prefer to be in your Bangalore home than here?
I do spend plenty of time in Bangalore. I also look after my real estate business. We’re currently building high-end villas. Of late, that has taken a chunk of my time.

So how is your stud farm in Bangalore doing?
Oh, it’s a wrong notion that I own a stud farm. But I’m a horseracing enthusiast since I was 13. Currently, I own one horse.

You seem to have a gift for showcasing your heroines – like Mumtaz in


, Hema Malini in


, Zeenat Aman in


, and Dimple Kapadia and Sridevi in


(Pleased) You’re forgetting Madhuri Dixit in


I have stretched myself to give my heroines that extra edge. I would even supervise the costumes, the makeup and hair-styles of my heroines. Why only heroines? I was even particular about the way I presented a junior artiste.

Err..there are many who find your clothes and manners, outlandish.
(Laughs) To each his own. See, style is a very personal thing. No one has ever told me that I dress up badly or that I’m outlandish. With so many problems around us..political, social, the entire business of making it through another day in a tough city, I dress up colourfully to forget about my surroundings.

In fact, two years ago MTV gave me the title of Style Icon. If my memory serves me right, Mr Amitabh Bachchan had been given the same award. I told the MTV guys that they’d placed an additional burden on me. Now, I’m always conscious about the way I dress in public, I can never be the same again.

It’s believed that you lead quite a colourful life..full of sharab, kabab and shabab.
(Grimaces) That's the wrong kind of question..and very off the mark if I may say so. I wouldn’t like to be associated with such a kind of image. As far as shabab is concerned, I respect women. I'm fond of sharab.. I do have wine and whisky with kababs or whatever, I won’t deny that. But I’ve never been roaring drunk, I know when to say, “Bus karo..that’s more than I can take.”

Do you regret the irresponsible statements which you made in Pakistan last year..putting down your host country?
I don't regret that all.. I stood up for my country. (Laughs) BJP even called me a nationalist. I was upset with the show's anchor (Fakhar-eAlam) there.

He was making Manisha Koirala uncomfortable by asking her questions like, ‘Why are you nervous?’ Is that a question to ask?

Then you were banned from entering Pakistan..
Banned me! So what? I don't want to settle down there. I gave them a piece of my mind right there and then.. that’s it.

I told them that Pakistan has issues like casteism but look at is the most secular country in the world. We have a Sikh Prime Minister and a Muslim President.

For years, Hindus and Muslims have lived together.. but in Pakistan, they have problems despite the existence of one community.

How did Pakistan's awaam react?
Oh, they were very kind and receptive. I got immense love from them. In fact, a couple of days after the Lahore controversy, I was chief guest at the Punjab assembly.

Your kind of statements are not exactly positive for Indo-Pak peace talks.
Ah, no no.. I shouldn't be blamed for that. Peace talks have been going on for years and it will go another 50 years if we don't come to a practical solution. There should be a decision which will appeal to people of both the countries.

Lastly, as a father..what would you say about the cocaine allegation involving Fardeen?
For me that’s a closed chapter.. but it keeps rearing its ugly head every now and then. I will always stand by my son..he has never betrayed me.. or let me down.

Best Movies
: Janbaaz (1986), Qurbani (1980), Khhote Sikkay (1974), Mela (1971), Upasana (1971), Safar (1970), Bahurani (1963)

Worst Movies:
Darinda (1977) Jadu Tona (1977) Kabeela (1976) Rani Aur Lalpari (1975)

Kinky Movies:
International Crook (1974), CID 909 (1967), Samson (1964), Reporter Raju (1962)

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