Remember the lad who played young Prince Salim on screen in Mughal-E-Azam (1960), who would later be essayed by Dilip Kumar? It was Jalal Agha, son of popular comic actor Agha, making his debut as a child artiste. Apparently, at the time, actor Dilip Kumar had asked his friend, Agha to let his son Jalal play the iconic role of the young Jahangir in K Asif’s magnum opus. However, the veteran actor refused. Dilip Kumar refused to take no for an answer, and smuggled young Jalal Agha onto the sets. Jalal was thus cast as a younger version of perhaps Dilip Kumar’s most memorable character on screen. What’s more, young Jalal even had his father, Agha escorted off the sets because he felt uncomfortable working in his father’s presence! Later in life too, Jalal attempted to carve his own identity, distinct from his father’s. He would even pass on roles if they hadn’t come to him on his own merit—something he did with the film Farz (1967), which he declined because he had been offered the role at his father’s behest.
Jalal Agha was born on 11 July, 1945 to popular comedian-actor Agha and Masoom. The couple’s only son among four children, he went on to study at boarding school in Pune and then at The Scindia School in Gwalior. He graduated in acting from the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune. Jalal Agha went on to make his debut in the crime thriller Bambai Raat Ki Bahon Mein (1967) directed by Khwaja Ahmed Abbas. He was cast as Johnny/ Joseph in a story that revolved around a news reporter becoming a suspect after a robbery and a homicide aboard an aircraft. Acting in a slew of supporting roles from the late 60s to the early 90s, Jalal Agha is memorable for essaying the musician in the song Mehbooba o mehbooba in Sholay (1975), and for his outings in Ghar Ghar Ki Kahani (1970), Julie (1975) in which he played Julie’s lover Richard, Thodi Si Bewafai (1980), and Dil Akhir Dil Hai (1982). He acted in more than 60 films in the course of his career. He also featured in English films such as Bombay Talkie (1970), Gandhi (1982), Kim (1984) and The Deceivers (1988).
He ventured into direction and screenplay writing, also founding his own production house, Maja Films. He started with directing ads and TV serials such as Mr Ya Mrs in 1987 and Kahkashan (1991), a serial on six modern Urdu and Islamic poets. His first feature film, Nirvaan, unfortunately failed to release owing to a feud over credits between producers. Agha’s second film Goonj, which he wrote and directed, released in 1989. A Joy Augustine production, it starred Kumar Gaurav and Juhi Chawla. Set against a backdrop of student politics in Goa, the film bagged a Filmfare Award nomination for Best Story.
Some of the many films he featured in include Aisa Bhi Hota Hai (1971), Lakhon Mein Ek (1971), Hum Tum Aur Woh (1971), Do Boond Pani (1971), Gomti Ke Kinare (1972), Zindagi Zindagi (1972), Do Chor (1972), Mere Gharib Nawaz (1973), Yaadon Ki Baraat (1973), Garm Hawa (1974), Us Paar (1974), Shikwa (1974), Anjaan Raahen (1974), Mrig Trishna (1975), Badnaam (1975), Saheb Bahadur (1977), Gharaonda (1977), Hum Kisise Kum Naheen (1977), Gaman (1978), Junoon (1978), Nauker (1979), Thodisi Bewafai (1980), Karz (1980), Kismet (1980), Be-Shaque (1981), Rocky (1981), Chorni (1982), Vakil Babu (1982), Dil... Akhir Dil Hai (1982), Gandhi (1982), Katha (1983), Naukar Biwi Ka (1983), Aakhir (1984), Baazi (1984), Ram Tere Kitne Nam (1985), Anadi Khiladi (1986), Baat Ban Jaye (1986), Itihaas (1987), Do Qaidi (1989), Pehla Nasha (1993), Jhumka (1995), Policewala Gunda (1995), and Badmaash (1998). He appeared in a few films posthumously, including Yaar Meri Zindagi (2008) alongside Amitabh Bachchan. Although he mostly acted in supporting roles, he was a well-known face in the industry, and was commended for his talent.
Jalal Agha passed away due to a heart attack on 5 March, 1995. He was 50. His father, Agha had passed away two years earlier, also due to a heart attack. Married to model Valerie Pereira, they divorced in 1983. Jalal Agha was survived by his children, Saleem Christopher Agha Bee and Vanessa Feuerstein.