Balochistan to Bollywood

By Odisha Story Bureau, Bhubaneswar:


Kader Khan’s journey from Balochistan to Bombay will bring tears to your eyes


By mentioning the “freedom struggle in Balochistan” during his Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has put forward the most significant and open expression of India’s solidarity with the Baloch people. 

But keep the geo-politics aside for a moment. Instead, let us look at the story of a migrant from Balochistan who came to Mumbai as a child and went on to become one of Bollywood’s most loved personalities: actor and dialogue writer Kader Khan.


Though a Pashtun, Khan’s maternal family hails from Pishin in Balochistan. Situated 55 km north of Quetta, Pishin is part of Balochistan’s Pashtun belt. In fact the district is said to have the largest concentration of Pashtun tribes in the province.

Khan said,

My mother was from Quetta in Balochistan. My father was from Kandahar. Officially I was born in Kabul but some of my relatives say that I was actually born in Quetta.

Like his place of birth, Khan’s exact date of birth isn’t known either.

I was told that I was born when Sohrab Modi’s Pukar was released. Many years later, I asked Sohrab Modi the release date of the film, and he told me that it was October 1939. I would always remain grateful to him for telling me, as that is how I found out when exactly I was born.

Recalling the tragic circumstances that led up to his family’s migration to Mumbai, Khan said,

Life was very difficult there (in Quetta and Kabul, where Khan’s family lived). My parents had four sons before me. All of them reached the age of eight and died one after the other. And then, I was born. It was very tough for my parents.

He further added,

My mother was traumatised and she was afraid I would not survive there. My parents then decided to come to Mumbai. With me – a tiny, lifeless infant in their arms – they came all the way, thousands of kilometres away, to Mumbai.

Khan has acted in over 300 films in Hindi and Urdu and has written dialogues for over 250 Indian films, from the 1970s up to the turn of the 21st century. Manmohan Desai paid him a handsome amount of one lakh twenty-one thousand for writing dialogues for the film Roti (1974). He is most popularly recognized for working with actor Jeetendra,Feroz Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Govinda and in films by David Dhawan. He has worked side-by-side with other comedians like Shakti Kapoor and Johnny Lever. He has played a large variety of parts in films like a supporting role of a father, uncle, brother, main villain or the side villain, guest actor and comedian.

He recently appeared in Tevar (2015), Hera Pheri 3 (2016), Mujhse Shaadi Karogi (2004), Lucky: No Time for Love (2006) and Family: Ties of Blood (2006). He starred in his own comedy television series titled Hasna Mat, which aired on Star Plus. He made a comeback on Indian television with a comedy series Hi! Padosi… Kaun Hai Doshi? on Sahara One.

As a dialogue writer Kader Khan has worked with Manmohan Desai and Prakash Mehra for their films starring Amitabh Bachchan. Besides Amitabh, he was the only one to work in the rival camps of Mehra and Desai. His films with them include Ganga Jamuna Saraswati, Sharaabi, Coolie, Desh Premee, Lawaaris, Suhaag, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar,Parvarish and Amar Akbar Anthony.

Other Amitabh Bachchan films for which he has written dialogues are Mr. Natwarlal, Khoon Pasina, Do Aur Do Paanch, Satte Pe Satta, Inquilab, Giraftaar, Hum and Agneepath. Khan has also written screenplays for films starring Amitabh like Agneepath and Naseeb.

Other successful films for which he has written dialogues include Himmatwala, Coolie No. 1, Main Khiladi Tu Anari, Kanoon Apna Apna, Khoon Bhari Maang, Karma, Sultanat,Sarfarosh, Justice Chaudhury and Dharam Veer.

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Odisha Story Bureau
A team of young journalists headed by Subhransu Panda, founder-editor of Odisha's leading news portal and magazine Odisha Story. Mail: editor@odishastory.com