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Maths teacher who gave Amitabh, Govinda their biggest hits

By Subhash K Jha
January 01, 2019 16:01 IST
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'He taught mathematics in his spare time. I would often see him solving mathematical problems in between shots.'

Kader Khan, who passed into the ages in Canada on December 31, was suffering from a rare nerve degenerative disease.

For close to 40 years, Khan ruled Bollywood first as a writer, then as an actor.

He was associated with many of Amitabh Bachchan's and Govinda's biggest hits.

"I don't know of any talent in Bollywood who was as in demand as as Kadersaab. He used to be writing and acting in five, six films at the same time in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s," Pahalaj Nihalani, who worked closely with Khan, tells Subhash K Jha.

"He was so busy that he would dole out dates in hours. For my Aankhen, I wanted him in a double role. He pleaded off, but I insisted. I asked him to just give me four hours for one day and then I'd manage. My trick was to get him on board."

"Once he was signed, he'd have no choice but to give me more dates. And that's what happened."

If Nihalani had his way, he would have worked in many more films with Kader Khan.

"We did Aankhen and Andaz. In fact, I wanted him for the role that went to Anupam Kher in Shola Aur Shabnam, but he just did not have time."

As a human being and a professional, Nihalani rates Kadersaab next to none.

"I have rarely known anyone in the film industry who was as helpful, supportive and committed as Kaderbhai. He was never just an actor or a writer in a project. He jumped into it the whole hog," adds Nihalani.

"A part of the success of Amitabh Bachchan and Govinda must go to Kaderbhai for his writing."

"Meeting him was always like running into an embodiment of the Hindi film industry. He could do anything, and he did everything. It's a pity his health began to fail in the last 10 years. Kaderbhai had so much more to give."

"A most talented actor, writer and delightful company. He wrote some exceptional films for me and worked in several of the most successful ones," recalls Amitabh Bachchan.

"Many may not know, but he taught mathematics in his spare time. I would often see him solving mathematical problems in between shots," Bachchan remembers.


The fact that Kader Khan spent his final years in Canada troubles Shatrughan Sinha.

"Why was he in Canada at the time of his death?" he asks. "Kader Khan has given so much to our entertainment industry. He was one of the pillars of Bollywood. He was not just an excellent actor who fitted into any role, but also an outstanding writer."

"Both Amitabh and I were closely associated with him."

"I knew him from the time he wrote Naseeb and Jawalamukhi, both of which I starred in. Whenever I met him, he regaled me with his intellectual mind and deep study of commercial Indian cinema."

"I don't think there can be another Kader Khan ever," Sinha adds.

"What a sad start to 2019. There is a lesson to be learnt from Kader Khan's death in a foreign country. We need to take better care of our artistes so that they don't feel neglected."

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Subhash K Jha