B.H.Harsh wrote on 11 Aug 2008
Ajit (real name Hamid Ali Khan) was born on January 27, 1922 in Golconda. He was the son of personal driver of Nizam Osmal Ali Khan. Ajit finished his schooling in Warangal district of Andhra Pradesh. But the film bug bit him big time. He sold his college books, and ran away to Bombay to try his luck in films. He started struggling in early 40s, but faced a lot of hard luck to get a chance. Ajit made his debut with Shahe Misar (1948), but his first notable performance was in film Beqasoor (1949). He also made a mark with Nastik (1954). In the early 50s, Ajit did many films as a hero.
With late 50s, Ajit slowly moved to playing character roles. He did a film on partition, Bada Bhai (1957), where his performance as a refugee was appreciated. He played major roles in two of the biggest films of that period, Naya Daur (1957) and Mughal-e-Azam (1960). He also formed a bonding with Dilip Kumar. His turning point in the 60s was Suraj (1966), a costume drama which made ways for him as a baddie. But his landmark film was Zanjeer (1973). In this film, Ajit showed his now-famous accent and suave style, and left a deep impression on the cine-goers. Same year, his performance in the super hit Yaadon Ki Baarat was appreciated. Ajit became very popular after these two films, and started playing villains with most of them having large dens, scary henchmens and a girl by his side. His lines would be recited by kids. He formed a style of his own.
Ajit also played a few positives characters once in a while like Mr. Natwarlal (1979), where he played Amitabh Bachchan’s elder brother. His other most popular role was in Subhash Ghai’s debut film Kalicharan (1976), where he acquired his famous name “Lion”, and his famous dialogue "Saara shehar mujhe Loyan (Lion) ne naam se jaanta hain..." With the coming of 80s, Ajit’s number of films decreased vehemently. However, his popularity remained intact with Jokes being made on his name, and products being sold using his typical accent and one-liners. In 1991, he made a come back from a self imposed exile and did some films, namely Jigar and Police Officer. His last film was Gangster (1994), which also starred Dev Anand. However, it was a flop and Ajit didn’t do anymore films thereafter. He was very well versed in Urdu. He had a subtle sense of humour. His son Shahjad Khan also acted in a few films like Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988) and Andaz Apna Apna (1994), and often does the Ajit act in comic films.