~By Sanjay Raman Sinha
His tone was soft, tenor sweet but undercurrent was undecidedly menacing. He spoke with firm persuasiveness, and the threatening message was not lost to whom it was intended.
In the firmament of thundering, threatening and terrorizing villains of Bollywood there will always be a safe and special niche for the Ajit. The quintessential villain of Hindi films.
Ajit, original name Hamid Ali Khan, was born this day, 27 January in 1922. His specialty was his distictive dialogue delivery. Long before Prem Chopra made the genteel dialogue delivery his trademark, Ajit spewed menace on silver screen by his studied nonchalance and pseudo sweetness.
When he spoke it was always with a deadpan face. His double meaning quips made him all the more famous.
Remember the Loin of Kalicharan, where he famously quipped: ‘Saara Saher Mujhe Loin ke Naam Se Jaanta Hai'(‘Whole town knows me as Loin’)
‘Mona Darling’ was his ever loyal sidekick to whom he purred his lines aside. Years after his passing away Ajit jokes are still popular. People love to emulate his speaking style and his ribaldness. His character is a fount of double meaning jokes.
Ajit’s den was a set designer’s dream. Menacing hoodlums hanged around , secret doors slid open and closed and multi coloured lights blinked to create an aura of the underworld.
In a career spanning nearly four decades Ajit acted in over 200 films
Ajit was born in 1922 near Golconda in Andhra Pradesh. Attraction of films drew him to Mumbai. He started his film career in 1946 with Shahe Misr.
1946 to 1956 was a period of struggle for Ajit where he tried to make his place in the industry. Around this time he acted in Patanga, Zidd, Sarkar, Taranag, Mahal and some other films. But none of these fared well at the box office.
To break the jinx he was advised to shorten his name. So he changed his name from Hamid Ali to Ajit. The move proved auspicious and he bagged the film Bekasur as a hero.
In K Asif’s 1960 magnum opus Mughal-e-Azam Ajit played a supporting role, sharing screen with thespian Dilip Kumar.
Then followed a spate of films like Shikari, Prince, Aadmi Aur Insaan where his villany got finally recognized.
1973 was a watershed year for Ajit. With blockbusters like Zanjeer, Yadoon Ki Baraat, Kahanai Kismet Ki and Jugnu, Ajit tasted unprecedented success as a villain.
In 1976 Subhash Ghai cast him in the role of the formidable Don, Lion. The way he twisted his name to Loin in a sarcastic drawl became his hallmark.
After Kaalicharan Ajit never really looked back and scaled new heights in playing villain.
Ajit stopped acting in the early 1980s after heart surgery and moved back home to Hyderabad.
But Bollywood couldn’t have enough of Ajit and again he was offered films. In 1985 he made a comeback with Police Officer. His last film was Gangster after that he returned to Hyderabad where he breathed his last on 22 October 1998.