indian cinema heritage foundation

Ravi Khanna

Action Director
  • Real Name: Maharaj Krishan Khanna
  • Born: 9 July 1929 (Gujarat, British India)
  • Died: 10 August 2006
  • Primary Cinema: Hindi
  • Children: Babbu Khanna

Popular action director and stunt coordinator Ravi Khanna is known for successful action thrillers such as Baaz (1953), CID (1956), Mera Saaya (1966), and Johny Mera Naam (1970). A highly sought-after action director in his time, he held a commanding position in the Hindi film industry. While he has more than 150 films to his credit as an action director, he also faced the camera in supporting roles in films such as Haqeeqat (1964), Mera Gaon Mera Desh (1971), and Kaalia (1981), among others. He also directed the film Ek Khilari Bawan Pattey (1972). He remains best known for his action choreography in an array of films including Aatank (1996), Dharm Sankat (1991), Paap Ki Kamaee (1990), Tandav (1990), Honeymoon (1990), Pathar Ke Insan (1990), Begunaah (1990), Zabardasti (1990), Sharaabi (1984), and Amar Akbar Anthony (1977). 

Born Maharaj Krishan Khanna on 9 July 1929 in Gujarat, he reportedly migrated from Pakistan during Partition to Bombay. Here, he joined the film industry as a junior artist, and assumed the name Ravi Khanna. Gradually climbing the ladder, he became a stuntman and then a stunt coordinator. His breakthrough film as a stunt coordinator was Upkar (1967). Actor Manoj Kumar’s directorial debut, the film held the top spot at the box office in 1967. Considered a classic, it is set against the backdrop of the war of 1965. The film extolled the village life, and the contribution of farmers and soldiers to the nation. It won praise from all quarters as well as awards. For Khanna, there was no looking back thereafter.

He would go on to design, organise and facilitate action scenes for more than 150 films over the decades. Key among these was the action adventure Baaz in 1953. Directed by Guru Dutt who essayed the male lead role, and Geeta Bali, the action film was packed with adventure staged mainly on a ship.

He would coordinate the stunt sequences for CID in 1956, a crime thriller that revolved around the murder of a newspaper editor who is about to expose the underworld links of a rich person. A CID inspector, played by Dev Anand, gets assigned to investigate the murder case. Directed by Raj Khosla, the film is considered to be one of the best thrillers to have ever come out of Hindi cinema.

In 1966, he worked as the action director of Mera Saaya, a Raj Khosla directorial that revolved around a lawyer, whose wife dies in his arms. Another woman - identical in appearance and accused of aiding a gang of bandits - claims to be the lawyer's wife. A courtroom drama ensues. The film, which was a box office success, starred Sunil Dutt and Sadhana Shivdasani in the leading roles. 

Johny Mera Naam, the 1970 action drama film, saw him work on action sequences with director Vijay Anand. Starring Dev Anand, Hema Malini, and Pran, the film revolved around two brothers, sons of a police officer, who pursue different life paths as a result of a tragic event. 

Khanna’s directorial Ek Khilari Bawan Pattey, which released in 1972, was an actioner with a star cast comprising Dev Kumar, Vinod Khanna, Laxmi Chhaya, and Naqi Jehan. It had lyrics by Hasrat Jaipuri and music composed by Sonik Omi.

Prior to making his directorial debut, he had served as the second unit director of Mera Gaon Mera Desh (1971), and the assistant director of Kinare Kinare (1963). 

Ravi Khanna was honoured with the Zee Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Cinema in 2001. 

His son Babbu Khanna also became an action director, while his grandson Karan Khanna became a stunt coordinator and choreographer. 

Ravi Khanna passed away on 10 August 2006.