Born in Golconda near Hyderabad, his real name was Hamid Ali Khan. He ran away to Bombay in his teens to join the film industry. In one of his early movies, the director asked him to adopt a short screen name. And so, Hamid Ali Khan gave himself the screen name of Ajit, and went on to become the most popular movie villain of his time.
Ajit was an impressive figure in his younger days. Broad-shouldered, with a muscular chest and a resonant voice, he was unlike the chocolate heroes of his generation. He began his career as a hero, but after starring in a series of flops, Ajit tried his luck as a villain in Suraj (1966). The movie, with Rajendra Kumar and Vyjanthimala in the lead, was a major hit and received several Filmfare awards.
Ajit solidly established himself as the leading villain of Bollywood with the movie Zanjeer, released in 1973. Zanjeer made a major hero out of Amitabh Bachchan and a major villain out of Ajit. Zanjeer also made the vamp of the movie a household name. Her name was Bindu, but thanks to Ajit, she became famous as Mona Darling, a nickname that still follows her!
Through the ’70’s, Ajit produced several memorable performances, in movies like Yaadon ki Baraat, Paraya Dhan, Jugnu, Pratigya, Sangram and many others.
In the 1976 movie ‘Kalicharan’, Ajit first delivered his most famous line, “Saara sheher mujhe Loin ke naam se jaanta hai”.
Ajit created a new paradigm in Bollywood villainy. Unlike other villains, Ajit was suave and sophisticated, spoke English, smoked expensive cigars, dressed in natty suits and carried fashion accessories like ivory canes, weird sunglasses, glossy shoes, gold wrist-bands and the like. Even his henchmen and his den became Ajit’s trademarks. His henchmen had typical names like Lilly, Peter, James and Michael, while his den had futuristic gadgets, sliding doors, flashing lights, roaring tigers, gilded cages to trap the hero’s girlfriend in, etc.
And, he had his own inimitable style of dialog delivery. Ajit is one film actor who is still recognised by his voice alone.
And till this day, more than twenty years after his death, his unique voice and unforgettable dialogs still provide a living to stand-up comedians and mimicry artistes across India.
‘Lilly, don’t be silly,’ as the Loin of Bollywood would have said.
Cheers … Srini.
And here’s that famous loin clip from the movie Kallicharan: