'I hope to do more work again,' says Kader Khan
A migrant Pathan who stayed in a shady Mumbai locality and yet became a Civil Engineer and then a lecturer, moving on to act and write in theatre and movies, Kader Khan is now in his 74th year. The living legend rewinds to his life and times, and also speaks about his current activities.
From engineer to entertainer
His knees are troubling him - physically; but mentally, the living legend is as sharp as ever. A gentleman to the core, he is soft-spoken, courteous, warm and humble. Kader Khan's life is itself rich material for a play or film with the kaleidoscopic changes that have seen him move from one point to another.
"Our family migrated from Kabul, and we settled here in Mumbai's Kamathipura, a precinct known for drug-peddlers, bootleggers and prostitution. It was from here that I did my Civil Engineering from M.H.Saboo Siddik Polytechnic, and after that even taught subjects like Mathematics, Applied Mechanics and Hydraulics there," says the veteran. "I would also do theatre, write plays for colleges and act in them."
With a broad smile, Khan informs me, "It was said then that jisne Kader Khan ka play nahin dekha, woh college kabhi gaya hi nahin. Dilip Kumar loved one of my plays and offered me Sagina and Bairaag as an actor. But before that, I got my first offer as a film writer."
In those days, Jagriti was an all-India Dramatic Competition in which Khan participated with his play Local Train. "Film waale waise bhi meri mala japne lage the because they thought that I was thorough as both writer and actor," recalls Khan. "After Local Train won all major prizes, the three judges, noted author and filmmaker Rajinder Singh Bedi, his writer-director son Narendra Bedi and actor Kamini Kaushal came to meet me backstage. They asked me why I was not inclined towards films. They took offence when I said something to the effect that I was not mad to think along those lines. 'Do we look mad?' they retorted."