Feroz Khan, who strode into the film scene in the late 60s with stunt films like Reporter Raju and once dubbed "the Clint Eastwood of the East" because of his maverick roles and manly swagger is no more amidst us. The swashbuckling hero was first among the actors to swagger and often used to leave his shirt unbuttoned to reveal a brawny chest and had a fetish to sport tight-fitting trousers.
The stylish and suave actor passed away on April 26 in Bangalore after a long fight against cancer at the age of 69. Khan who was conferred with the Life Time Achievement Award by Stardust earlier this year was diagnosed with cancer last year and treated at a private hospital in Mumbai before he was discharged earlier this month. Luckily, his family was at his bedside when he died. The actor was born to a father with Afghan roots and a mother of Iranian origin and brought up in Bangalore. He found fame in films like Oonche Log and Arzoo, both in 1965.
As a producer and director, he made Dharmatma, the first Hindi-language movie made on location in Afghanistan and inspired by The Godfather. It was with the 1980 Qurbani that he scored his biggest hit as an actor, producer and director, introducing foreign locations to Bollywood that is today the norm. Feroz repeated his success with films like Janbaaz and Dayavaan in the 1980s.
Known for his ability to push boundaries, Ferozbhai as I used to call him was a personal favourite of mine. Since he was known for his short temper, in the initial stage of my career as a cub reporter, I was quite scared of the actor, who became a personal favourite of mine. Once, Feroz called me at his bungalow for breakfast but though I landed at the dot 9 a.m, he was sleeping and his wife Sundari asked me to wait till he woke up. When he woke up at 12 noon, Feroz was profusely apologetic for having overslept because he had gone to sleep only by 5 am after editing his film Yalgaar
Though I interviewed him, I politely declined his offer to have whisky and lunch with him since I had yet another appointment for lunch. To my embarrassment, Feroz came to see me off at the gate and once again apologized to me for not keeping his break fast date with me. To my pleasant surprise, a bouquet of roses with a bottle of Black Label and a box of chocolates, with a note of apology awaited me at my house.
My condolences are with his son Fardeen Khan and his brothers Sanjay Khan, who I call Abbasbhai, Sameer Khan and Akbar Khan. I will always remember Ferozbhai as the legendary figure speaking English with an American twang with a cigarette dangling from his lips, a femme fatale hanging on his arm and a horse waiting for his bidding.