The most glorious journeys are not the ones where you win; those are the ones where you do not quit till the end, even if you’re losing out. An uphill journey is what makes a legend; Kader Khan is no exception. Starting off at a slum and establishing himself as a credible actor-writer was not surely an easy task. Indian film fraternity will cherish him as an artiste who stayed true to his understanding of art and did not give up to the odds. Khan has reached the verge where only pleasant memories of his productivity accompany him. But then, let us look back and raise a toast to the glory in his kitty!
The legendary actor is suffering from memory loss
However, legends often have tragic ends. The man who has appeared in over 300 films, suffers from memory loss now. He has also lost most of his voice. Nothing pains an artiste more when his creative abilities find no expression and die inside. Khan had plans to open an educative organization where both art and religion would be discussed. That only remained a dream. Let us celebrate the glorious journey he has lived. We wish his coming days are blessed with peace and good health.
All that adds to his crown
Khan has 13 Filmfare Awards for films that he has written and acted in. In 2013, he was honoured with the Sahitya Shiromani Award. Khan has important contributions in empowering Muslims of India. He was recognised by American Federation of Muslims from India for the same. His elder son Sarfaraz Khan formed 'Kal Ke Kalakar International Theatre Company' which he was involved in as well.
In his acting career, he has successful films like 'Muqaddar Ka Sikander', 'Qurbani', 'Bairaag', Khoon Pasina', 'Angaar', 'Hero no. 1' and over the years, he has appeared in over 300 films. He is one of the few remaining actors to have shared screen with actors across different generations. From Feroz Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Jeetendra, Shakti Kapoor to Govinda, Saif Ali Khan, Johnny Lever, he worked with a series of accomplished co-stars . Although his career kick-started with playing a negative role, he later shifted to positive and comic characters. His Southern film 'Himmatwala' became a rage. That was probably the first time that a comic character of a film acquired the entire poster, leaving the lead actors behind.
A major shift in career
However, his shift to comedy was interesting. Khan revealed how his children would come back from his school, beaten up by schoolmates. Surprised, he asked them what went wrong. The poor kids were beaten by their friends. They would say, "your dad shows so much of bravery on screen; he is always fighting. And look at you? You're being beaten here". This affected the father. He did not want his children to pay for his on-screen image. He decided to change his genre. And who doesn't know? He is one of the most iconic comic performers Bollywood has ever had. What happens, happens for good!
Talent conquers all!
These days, we hear a lot about various opponent groups in Bollywood. Not that they've cropped up out of the blue. Even decades back, they very much existed. Prakash Mehra and Manmohan Desai were too such people; staunch opponents. In the entire industry, Kader Khan and Amitabh Bachchan were only two people who would work with both of them. Once someone asked Khan, "You belong to which camp?" Khan chuckled and replied, "None. They both belong to my camp"! Both Desai and Mehra have managed super hit films with Khan's assistance. Some of them are, 'Sharaabi', 'Coolie', Muqaddar Ka Sikander', 'Lawaaris'. Apart from them, he has written super hit films like 'Himmatwala', 'Inquilab', 'Satte Pe Satta', 'Main Khiladi Tu Anari' and many more.
Introduction to fame
Khan was paid Rs. 1500 for writing 'Jawani Deewani'. His next offer soon came to him, and this time he was paid Rs. 10,000 as signing amount! Then one day, he happened to meet legendary filmmaker Manmohan Desai. Desai was then working on a new film and wasn't liking the writer's work. Producer Habib Nadiadwala took Khan to Desai and introduced him as a writer. But Desai wasn't an easy man to convince! "I have tried many newcomers. Where did you find this one now? If I don't like what he writes, I will tear his script apart", he frowned. Sure, Desai was a famous name. But Khan had a writer's ego inside! He said, "I am okay with you tearing my script. But what if you happen to like it?". "Main tumhe sar pe bithake nachunga," Desai giggled! That is how Khan and Desai's association began. At the same time, he also started working with another veteran filmmaker Prakash Mehra.
..& he fell in love with his pen
After schooling, he joined Yusuf Ismail College from where he acquired a diploma in civil engineering. During his college days, he would write and take part in plays. One such play was 'Local Train' which bagged a national level award, and also fetched him a cash prize of 1500 rupees. This was a game changer in Khan's life. Actor Dilip Kumar came to know about it and expressed interest to watch the play. Upon watching it, Kumar was so impressed that he signed Khan for two cult films; 'Sagina Mahato' and 'Bairaag'. At the same time, he also drew attention of late director Narendra Bedi, producer Ramesh Behl, actress Kamini Kaushal etc. Narendra Bedi was then prepping for his flick 'Jawani Deewani', for which he signed Khan as the writer. This was his first introduction to fame. The industry soon came to know about this young, fresh writer.
The dirty shade of poverty
However, this didn't help the poverty. It affected even the little soul so much, that he one day decided to leave schooling and go to work at a local mill, like other children of the slum. Just when he was about to leave home and look for work, his father appeared at the spot and stopped him. "I know where are you going. If you become a daily laborer today, your 3 rupees/day will remain 3 rupees forever. But remember, if you want to get rid of this poverty, you must educate yourself. You must trust the pen in your hand," he told the little boy. Sounds moving, right? It did change Khan's mind. From this day onward, he invested all his time and energy in studies.
A family that shattered
Life in a slum wasn't easy. Khan, there, was admitted to the local municipal school. But even as a child, he knew how poverty was causing pain to his parents. But life was stormed apart when his parents, unable to bear rough time anymore, opted to separate from each other. Khan remained with his mother. Back then, nobody found it safe for a single woman to stay alone with a child, that too in a slum. So, she was married again. Since the age of two, Khan had the company of two fathers. His biological father used to teach at a masjid nearby. He would go there, and study.
From Afghanistan to India
Unlike many, Kader Khan did not have a dreamy beginning to his life. He was born in Kabul, Afghanistan. Khan had three brothers; all of them passed away as soon as they reached the age of eight. Clueless, his parents left Kabul and came to India. They started living at a slum in Mumbai. Known as Kamatipura, it probably is still the dirtiest slum in the country.