Ajit Khan

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Ajit Khan
Ajit Khan.jpg
Ajit in Aan Baan (1956)
Hamid Ali Khan

(1922-01-27)27 January 1922
Died22 October 1998(1998-10-22) (aged 76)
ChildrenShehzad Khan

Hamid Ali Khan (27 January 1922 – 22 October 1998),[1] better known by his stage name Ajit, was an Indian actor active in Hindi films. He acted in over two hundred movies over almost four decades.[2] Ajit is also credited for starring as a lead actor in popular Bollywood movies such as Nastik, Bada Bhai, Milan, Bara Dari, and later as a second lead in Mughal-e-Azam and Naya Daur.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Early life[edit | edit source]

Ajit was born as Hamid Ali Khan into a Deccani Muslim family of Hyderabad state near the historic fort of Golconda outside Hyderabad city. His father, Bashir Ali Khan, who was in the Nizam's army, and his mother, Sultan Jehan Begum, was a devoted wife and mother. Hamid was one of four children; he had a younger brother, Wahid Ali Khan, and two sisters. The language at home was Urdu, but with the Deccani dialect and accent, which was different from that spoken elsewhere and used in the Hindi film industry. In addition to Urdu, Hamid also spoke Telugu, which was the language of that region.

Ajit had his early education in Warangal and studied in Govt. Junior College, Hanamkonda in Warangal district of Telangana. Even as a school boy, his handsome features and good build were noticed by his peers, who often told him that he should try and become a film hero, and he began to think of this. He was anyway not much interested in studies, and after finishing school, he sold his junior college textbooks to pay for the journey to Mumbai, the center of the Hindi film industry, and went away without informing his parents.

Career[edit | edit source]

He struggled to meet people and be accepted in any project, and in order to feed himself, he worked as an "extra" in several films.

Finally, he managed to land a leading role, and in the first couple of films, he is credited in his real name, Hamid Khan. He did not meet with much success, and on the advise of well-wishers, he took the Hindu name "Ajit" meaning "indomitable" as his screen-name, but his luck did not greatly improve. Although he did several films as hero and became known to the public, and although his distinctive baritone voice and impressive personality brought him a fan following, his luck at the box office as hero was not great. Film director K. Amarnath, who directed him in Beqasoor, suggested that the actor change his long name of Hamid Ali Khan to something shorter, and Hamid zeroed in on "Ajit". Beqasoor, in which he acted with Madhubala, was one of the biggest hits of 1950. Ajit's films as hero include Nastik (1953), Bada Bhai, Milan, Baradari and Dholak, and in all of them, he did credible work as actor. In Nastik (1953), the song "Dekh tere sansar ki haalat kya ho gayi Bhagwan" is picturised on him. He moved quite soon to second-lead roles, which he accepted because he had no other source of income. These movies include Naya Daur and Mughal-e-Azam.

Ajit, who ran away from home to Mumbai after selling his college books, started his career in films in the 1940s. Luck did not favour him in the beginning. He began with the 1946 movie Shahe Misra, acting opposite Geeta Bose, and also did films such as Sikander (with Van Mala), Hatimtai (1947), Aap Beeti (with Khursheed), Sone Ki Chidiya (with Leela Kumari), Dholak (with Meena Shori) and Chanda Ki Chandni (with Monica Desai) as leading hero, but flopped. He did the most films (15) with Nalini Jaywant. Ajit switched over to play the villain. His first movie as a villain was Suraj, followed by films such as Zanjeer and Yaadon Ki Baaraat.

His famous dialogues included the "Mona darling" bit in Yaadon Ki Baraat, "Lily don't be silly" in Zanjeer and the one about a "Lion" in Kallicharan. Ajit's other well known films were Naya Daur, Nastik and Shikari to name only a few. In his four decades of film career, Ajit had acted along with the legendary Prithviraj Kapoor, Sohrab Modi, Amitabh Bachchan, I S Johar, Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand, Shammi Kapoor, Dharmendra and many actresses, both young and old.[3]

In the mid-seventies he had acted in over 57 films, mostly as a villain. His dialogue delivery remains popular even to this date. His colleagues in the film industry — leading personalities who have acted with him, grown up seeing him in Mumbai — expressed deep sorrow over his death.

Writer Javed Akhtar, who scripted Zanjeer, said: "Like Bachchan, Ajit found a new image as villain after Zanjeer. He started a new innings in his career though he was an established hero in the fifties. His villainy started a new trend. Here was a new villain who was soft-spoken yet forceful. We wanted to give a different image to villainy which matched the hero."

Acting style[edit | edit source]

Ajit almost always portrayed the sophisticated, educated, well groomed evil mastermind, albeit heartless villain. Ajit was presented in striking western attire, the "bold" checked suits, matching overcoats, white leather shoes, wide sunglasses, jewellery accessories etc. Given his stature as a senior artist, Ajit was usually the gang leader to second tier villains (such as Jeevan (actor), Prem Chopra, Ranjeet, Kader Khan and Sujit Kumar). He was rarely portrayed (in movie roles) doing any "dirty work" himself, rather relying on his army of henchmen for the task, with zero tolerance for any failures. He always had a savvy female accomplice, usually named "Mona." Acting in over 200 films, he specialized in playing suave villains with memorable catch-phrases delivered in now iconic Ajit-style nasal drawls such as "Mona, darling". Ajit also brought to fame the smuggler as the villain. In his movies, he is generally seen smuggling gold biscuits in or out of the country. It has also been noted that most of his gang members had Christian names like Robert, Michael and Peter. This also has been used for comic purposes in parodies.

It was the menacing voice he was most famous for. He is still remembered for bringing the most famous villains in the history of Indian cinema to life. His contemporaries include veteran actors like Amrish Puri, Pran, Prem Chopra and Amjad Khan. Some of his popularity in the present time is due to the innumerable jokes and parodies made on his famous lines by comedians.

Personal life[edit | edit source]

Ajit married three times. His first wife, whom he married after a brief love affair, was an Anglo-Indian and a Christian. The marriage was very short-lived and fell apart due to huge cultural differences and there were no children. Ajit married Shahida, a young lady of his own community and similar social background, in a match arranged by their parents in the usual Indian way. The marriage, which lasted till her death, was harmonious and was blessed with three sons. Ajit then married a third time, this time again for love, and the name of his third wife was Sara/Sarah. The actor Jayant (better known as the father of actor Amjad Khan) took the initiative to facilitate this marriage. Ajit has a further two sons by his third wife.

Ajit had a strong friendship with actor Rajendra Kumar. Apart from friendship, Ajit also credited Rajendra Kumar with advising and helping him to become a "leading villain" rather than a second-lead hero. Rajendra Kumar was instrumental in getting Ajit his first role as villain in the film Suraj.

Death[edit | edit source]

Ajit died of a sudden heart attack. The film industry was taken aback by the sudden death and lavished many tributes.

Fellow "villain" Amrish Puri said Ajit's death is a sad loss to films. "Ajit developed his own style of acting and delivery of dialogue. We still remember his style of acting which is guidance to the new generation of actors." Another fellow villain, Prem Chopra, who starred with Ajit in many films including Jugnu, Chupa Rustom and Ram Balram as a father and son team, said Ajit was devoted in his work. "He had a subtle sense of humour. He was a cultured man. We had a common interest - reciting Urdu poetry."

New-generation villain Kiran Kumar was shocked to hear that "his Ajit uncle" had died. "Our relationship was more personal than professional. I must have been hardly eight or ten years when my father (veteran character actor Jeevan) used to take me to Paradise Bakery opposite which was Ajit's residence. Father would call him by his first name Hamid, and would call him down. Ajit would come down, wearing lungi and jaali banian to chat with my father."

Filmography[edit | edit source]

Acting Filmography
Year Film Role
1995 Criminal Jagdish Prasad
1994 Gangster Chandulal Seth
1994 Aa Gale Lag Jaa Kalka Singh
1994 Betaaj Badshah Khan Chacha
1994 Aatish Uncle (Underworld Don)
1993 Shaktiman Shamsher Singh / Tiger
1993 Aadmi Trikaal
1992 Jigar Baba Thakur (Karate Instructor)
1992 Police Officer Dindayal "D. D."
1985 Phaansi Ke Baad D.I.G. Surendranath
1984 Raaj Tilak Bhavani Singh
1984 Raja Aur Rana Teja / Heeralal
1983 Daulat Ke Dushman Jagga Thakur
1983 Razia Sultan Amil Balban
1983 Mangal Pandey Lal Singh / Jaganlal
1982 Chorni Shambhu Dada
1981 Khoon Aur Paani Thakur Vikram Singh
1981 Aakhri Mujra
1981 Jyoti Amirchand
1981 Khuda Kasam Raizada Hukamchand
1980 Choron Ki Baaraat Dhanraj
1980 Ram Balram Jaggu / Chowdhary Jagatpal
1979 Heera-Moti Pratap Singh
1979 Mr. Natwarlal Inspector Girdharilal
1978 Aahuti C.B.I. Officer Harnam Prasad
1978 Azaad Seema's Uncle
1978 Des Pardes Gurnam
1978 Heeralaal Pannalaal Kalicharan
1978 Karmayogi Keshavlal
1978 Ram Kasam Inspector Ajit Singh
1977 Aakhri Goli
1977 Chalta Purza Captain Rajendra Behl
1977 Ankh Ka Tara Ramlal
1977 Hum Kisise Kum Naheen Sunita's Father (Guest Appearance)
1976 Jaaneman Raja Saheb / Gulbahar Singh
1976 Charas Kalicharan
1976 Kalicharan Dindayal / Lion
1976 Sangram Durjan
1975 Do Jhoot Nathulal
1975 Pratiggya Bharat Daku
1975 Warrant Master
1974 Badla Pratap / Randhir
1974 Khote Sikkay Jangha
1974 Paap Aur Punya Balvir Singh
1974 Patthar Aur Payal Ajit Singh
1973 Bandhe Hath Inspector Kumar / Pakkad Singh
1973 Chhupa Rustam Vikram Singh
1973 Dharma I.G. Ajit Singh
1973 Jugnu Boss
1973 Kahani Kismat Ki Premchand
1973 Shareef Budmaash Ranjit
1973 Yaadon Ki Baaraat Shakaal
1973 Zanjeer Dharam Dayal Teja
1972 Dil Ka Raaja Thakur Gajendra Singh
1972 Sultana Daku
1971 Andaz Raju's Father
1971 Lal Patthar Raja Raghav Shankar Rai
1971 Paraya Dhan Heeralal Daku
1971 Patanga Kunwar Amar Singh
1970 Heer Raanjha Heer's husband
1970 Dharti Diwan
1970 Jeevan Mrityu Harish (Harishchandra)
1969 Aadmi Aur Insaan Kundanlal / Sher Singh
1969 Prince Shamsher's Mamaji
1968 Raja Aur Runk Hariya
1967 Baghdad Ki Raatein
1966 Suraj Rajkumar Pratap Singh
1965 Main Hoon Aladdin Aladdin
1965 Namaste Ji
1963 Shikari
1963 Kabli Khan Kabli Khan
1962 Burmah Road
1962 Tower House Suresh Kumar
1961 Girls' Hostel
1961 Zindagi aur Khwab
1961 Opera House Ajit Rai
1960 Mughal-e-Azam Durjan Singh
1960 Baraat Shamu[4]
1959 Char Dil Char Rahen Dilawar
1959 Guest House Amar
1958 Mehndi Lead role
1957 Miss Bombay
1957 Bada Bhai
1957 Kitna Badal Gaya Insaan
1957 Naya Daur Krishna
1956 26 January
1956 Aan Baan
1956 Durgesh Nandini
1956 Halaku Parvez
1955 Aaj Ki Baat
1955 Bara Dari Ajit Singh
1955 Marine Drive Ajit
1955 Naqab
1955 Shahzada
1955 Teerandaz
1954 Maan
1954 Nastik Anil Kapoor / Babaji
1954 Samrat
1952 Anand Math
1952 Moti Mahal
1952 Tarang
1952 Vasna
1951 Daman
1951 Dholak
1951 Saiyan Vijay
1951 Sarkar
1950 Beqasoor Brij
1949 Jeevan Saathi
1949 Patanga
1945 Kurukshetra

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Ajit (Hamid Ali Khan) (Indian actor) - Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Britannica.com. Archived from the original on 15 February 2011. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  2. Kuldip Singh (17 November 1998). "Obituary: Ajit". The Independent. Archived from the original on 16 December 2013. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  3. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 12 August 2014. Retrieved 5 December 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0154205/