indian cinema heritage foundation

Feroz Khan

  • Real Name: Zulfikar Ali Shah Khan
  • Born: 25th September, 1939 (Hyderabad)
  • Died: 27th April, 2009 (Bangalore)
  • Primary Cinema: Hindi
  • Parents: Sadiq Ali Khan, Fatima Ali Khan
  • Spouse: Sundari Khan
  • Children: Fardeen Khan , Laila

A distinguished actor, film editor, producer and director, Feroz Khan is best remembered for his heroic action and legendary swagger in a series of “curry westerns” including Dharmatma (1975). Dubbed as India’s answer to Clint Eastwood, the flamboyant and good-looking Feroz Khan achieved iconic status not only by virtue of his films but also via his larger-than-life persona. Born to a Pathan Afghani immigrant father Sadiq and an Iranian mother, Fatima, on 25th September, 1939, in Hyderabad, he completed his studies at Bishop Cotton Boys’ School and St Germaine High School, post which he moved to Bombay to pursue a career in films. His first break came with Didi (1960), which was followed by a series of small roles. In the early years of his career, he played the lead in films like Reporter Raju (1962) and Teesra Kaun (1964). He won attention and recognition in Oonche Log (1965), acting with stalwarts like Ashok Kumar and Raaj Kumar in the Phani Mazumdar film. More accolades followed for his supporting role in Yash Chopra’s Aadmi Aur Insaan (1969), for which he received a Filmfare Awards nomination for Best Supporting Actor. His performance as Sharmila Tagore’s suspicious husband in Asit Sen’s Safar(1970) also made waves. 1970 was a banner year for him as he also won the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor for Aadmi Aur Insaan (1970). In the 18th Filmfare Awards (1971) two of the three nominations for Best Supporting Actor belonged to him. After acting with his younger brother Sanjay Khan and Mumtaz in Prakash Mehra’s Mela (1971), he soon went on to launch his own production house, FK International. His first production was the action thriller Apradh (1972), co-starring Mumtaz. Decades later, his son Fardeen and Mumtaz’s daughter Natasha would go on to marry. Khan received another nomination for International Crook (1974).

Khan went on to produce and direct several accomplished hit films including the Godfather-inspired Dharmatma (1975), which was the first Hindi-language movie to be filmed on location in Afghanistan. Qurbani (1980) was another of his thumping successes. A musical action thriller featuring hit songs like Aap jaisa koi by Pakistani singer Nazia Hassan and Laila o Laila by Indo-British musician Biddu, Qurbani turned out to be the biggest hit of Khan’s career. The film saw him play a motorcycle stuntman and expert safe-breaker. Co-star Vinod Khanna played his fellow criminal Amar. Solid performances were delivered by both actors, as well as Zeenat Aman. Qurbani also goes down as being the film that ushered the ‘disco revolution’ in Hindi cinema. It was followed by Janbaaz (1986), in which Feroz Khan confidently broke Hindi cinema’s unspoken ‘no kissing’ rule. The film also featured Sridevi in a special appearance as Khan’s lover who dies of a drug overdose. The music of the film, by Kalyanji-Anandji, was also a huge success, in particular the song Har kisiko nahi milta which was picturised on Sridevi. Khan then went on to buy the rights to Mani Ratnam’s Tamil blockbuster Nayakan (1987). He remade it as Dayavan (1989), again with Vinod Khanna and him playing best friends. The film, though, was unable to match the power of the original. The year 2003 saw Khan release Janasheen (2003), which also bagged him his third Filmfare acting nomination. 

In the year 1998, Khan had launched his son Fardeen with Prem Aggan. The film was not well received and neither did Fardeen’s career really take off. However, the father-son duo remained closely bonded through thick and thin, with Feroz standing by Fardeen when he was arrested for drug possession in 2001.

In the new millennium, Khan’s film appearances had thinned down considerably as a result of age and illness. His last role was in Welcome (2007), in which he played top gangster, RDX. He was also the recipient of the Filmfare (2000) and Zee Cine (2008) lifetime achievement awards.

Feroz had married Sundari in 1965, becoming the proud parents of Laila and Fardeen. The couple divorced in 1985. 

Khan had business interests in real estate. He had a passion for race horses and sports cars, and was also a nature lover. He spent his last days at his Bangalore farmhouse, before he succumbed to cancer on 27th April, 2009.