An Australian born civil engineer who grew up in Germany, Bob Christo made a name for himself as a villain in Hindi films quite successfully. Few know, however, that his exciting life could itself be the subject of a movie.
Born in Sydney in 1938, Bob Christo moved to Germany when he was twelve years old. While in Germany, he studied theatre and appeared in a Hollywood film. He also met his first wife Helga around the same time. Though he had a leaning towards the art of acting, he completed his degree in civil engineering and worked different jobs, including an army assignment in Vietnam and a few construction jobs. Following his wife’s death in a tragic car crash in 1974, Bob Christo moved to California with his three children. Leaving them in the care of an American couple, he continued to work in various places.
While on a trip to India in 1977, Christo was waiting for his work permit in Muscat to be processed when he met Parveen Babi and the American scriptwriter George Marzbetuni. This chance meeting led to Christo making his Hindi film debut as an evil tantric in Abdullah (1980). This role as the fair-skinned villain turned out to be one Christo would be cast in for years to come. For his role in the film, Christo was told to shave his head, grow a full beard and develop a squint. At the time, he could not even speak Hindi.
Before the release of Abdullah, word about Bob Christo had gone out, and he was contacted by numerous producers and directors. According to one of his interviews, he hardly ever had to audition, since roles were often tailor-made for him. Over the next two decades, he acted in more than a 100 movies in Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada. He mastered speaking Hindi and Urdu to help him in his career as a film villain. He appeared in a number of Amitabh Bachchan’s hit films throughout the 1980s and 1990s, including Mard (1985), Kaalia (1981), Agneepath(1990), Toofan (1989) and Jaadugar (1989). He also worked with other popular stars like Mithun Chakraborty (Jagir, 1984, Kasam Paida Karne Wali Ki, 1984), Rajnikant (Insaaf Kaun Karega, 1984) and Vinod Khanna (Ustaad, 1989), among others. His last film of note was Gumrah(1993). He also appeared in a few television serials,
In 2001, Bob Christo retired from the screen. He became a yoga instructor and joined Sanjay Khan’s hotel, Golden Palms Spa, as a fitness instructor. After he developed a spine injury in 2006, he stopped working there. Consequently, Christo started writing his autobiography, titled Flashback: My Life and Time in Bollywood and Beyond which was published in 2010.
Bob Christo passed away on 20 March 2011 after a cardiac arrest; he was 72 years old. He is survived by his second spouse, Nargis, his two sons Darius and Sunil, and two daughters, Monique and Nicole, from his previous marriage.
Canton, Naomi. ‘I want to die in India!’ ,Hindustan Times, March 28, 2011, https://www.hindustantimes.com/bollywood/i-want-to-die-in-india/story-sLUmRYydl0jZ1tY6nFfzIK.html (Accessed May 25, 2020)