Gabbar Singh. This iconic reel character needs no introduction! A large credit goes to this iconic dreaded dacoit for making 'Sholay' a blockbuster watch. And of course, to Amjad Khan who breath life into this role with his memorable dialogues and cool ruthlessness. Be it, 'So jaa beta nahin toh Gabbar aa jaayega' or 'Jo darr gaya so mar gaaya', his lines are immortal and continue to be a huge hit.
But do you folks know that he wasn't the first choice to play Gabbar Singh? On Amjad Khan's 78th birth anniversary today, we take a walk down the memory lane and revisit one of the most ultimate baddies of all times from Indian cinema-
Amjad Khan Was Destined To Play Gabbar Singh
The role was earlier offered to Danny Danzongpa who chose to do Feroz Khan's Dharmatma. Amjad Khan was spotted by Ramesh Sippy during a play and later Salim-Javed referred him to the director. Interestingly, he was offered the role the day his son Shadaab was born, on 20th September 1973!
Breathing Life Into Gabbar Singh
During the shooting of Sholay, some cast members thought his voice should be dubbed, but Ramesh Sippy refused. Amjad had visited a tarot card reader during the making of the film and she told him that the film will flop, but because of him the film will pick up in aftermath.
Amjad started preparing for the role by reading Abhishapth Chambal, a book on Chambal dacoits by Jaya Bhaduri's father, Taroon Coomar Bhaduri. To flesh out his character, he brought his own interpretation to Gabbar. "He remembered a dhobi from his childhood who used to call out to his wife: ‘Arre o Shanti.' The lilt in Gabbar's ‘'Arre o Sambha' came from this dhobi," writes Anupama Chopra in her book, 'Sholay: The Making of a classic'.
'Gabbar Aa Gaya'
"Amjad had grown a beard and blackened his teeth. His diction was right, his language was perfect. He was confirmed for the role," she further writes.
The Fan Frenzy
"It was the Sunday just after it released. We had taken Shadaab to Juhu beach, when I saw a crowd of people coming towards us. Amjad picked up Shadaab, grabbed my hand and said, ‘Run! Just run!' We barely managed to get into the car before people started banging on it." Such hysteria was oft-repeated. "Another time we were in Hyderabad. A police jeep took us from the airport to the hotel. There were people standing on both sides of the road. I asked Amjad, ‘Are these people waiting for you?' He replied with a straight face, ‘Ya! Even Kalidas' wife thought he was a fool'," recollected his wife Shehla in a Filmfare interview.