Pay Bills

When Amjad Khan didn’t have Rs 400 to pay the hospital bill after the birth of his son, signed Sholay on the same day

Amjad Khan is known for playing one of the best villains in Hindi cinema in Sholay. Such was his performance that his iconic dialogue from the film still holds a dear place in the hearts of moviegoers. Amjad Khan reached new heights in his career after Sholay made him a star, but the actor-producer went through a terrible time in his life just before signing the Ramesh Sippy movie.

Amjad’s son, Shadaab Khan, shared in an earlier interview with The Times of India that his late father did not have the money to pay the hospital bill after Shadaab was born. He shared that his father didn’t show up at the hospital because he couldn’t pay the bill. “He had no money to pay for my mother (Shehla Khan) to be discharged from the hospital where I was born. She started crying. My father didn’t show up at the hospital; he was ashamed to show his face,” he shared.

Sholay was the first film where Amjad got noticed, but he had worked in a few films before and one of those films was Hindustan Ki Kasam by director Chetan Anand. When the late Chetan Anand learned of this crisis, he rushed to help. The amount to be paid to the hospital was Rs 400 but Amjad was unable to collect the funds. “Chetan Anand saab gave him Rs 400 so that my mother and I could go home,” he shared.

In the same interview, Shadaab confirmed that it was the day his father signed Sholay, the film that would change his life. The role of Gabbar was offered to several, including actor Danny Denzongpa, who had to drop the project because his dates were unavailable. Even Sanjeev Kumar, who played Thakur, and Amitabh Bachchan, who played Jai, had shown an interest in playing Gabbar. Because Danny was unavailable, Salim Khan of the Salim-Javed duo recommended the name Amjad Khan.

An excerpt from the book Sholay, The Making of a Classic by Anupama Chopra says, “Salim had heard of Amjad’s skills as an actor, and physically he seemed to fit the role. “I can’t promise you anything,” he told Amjad, “but there’s a role in a big movie. I’ll take you to the director. Agar aap ko yeh role mil jaaye, aap ki koshish se ya aapki kismat se (If you get this part, whether by luck or effort), I tell you, it’s the best part in this film. Amjad seemed to fit the role, but he was unknown.