Feroz Khan: The end came a little too soon

Feroz Khan, arguably the most stylish and sophisticated actor to ride the horse in the Bollywood curry-western, went a little too soon.

A flamboyant 70 he refused to accept he was ill and would pooh pooh anyone who tried to show sympathy and concern about his health.

But his family of 4 brothers and 2 sister who had flown into his farm house in Bangalore to be near him, knew the end was near and made his last days as comfortable as possible for him.

The eldest of the Khan brothers Feroz unlike his younger brothers Sanjay, Sameer or Akbar (the fourth Khan brother Shah Rukh and the two sisters were never interested in films) remained a star until the end.

Feroz for a very long time remained typecast in stunt films or the second lead. So powerful was his impact in Asit Sen’s Safar and Ramanand Sagar’s Arzoo as the ‘Other Man’ that leading men of time shied away from working with him.

He lobbied heavily to get the second lead in Raj Kapoor’s Sangam (which Rajendra Kumar eventually did). And when that was denied to him Feroz did the next best thing. He started producing his own films and cast himself in the lead.

The results were explosive. Apradh (his first film as producer –director) was followed by Dharmatma (Bollywood’s first remake of Francis Coppola’s The Godfather) and the 1980 mega-blockbuster Qurbani.

The 1980s ceased to be kind to Feroz Khan. Prem Aggan designed to launch his son Fardeen bombed as did Yalgaar and Janasheen. But Feroz Khan never stopped dreaming big epic dreams, for himself and his cinema.

Feroz Khan’s distraught youngest brother Akbar Khan says they had been preparing themselves for Feroz’s death.

“For three months now we’ve been watching him slowly sink. We prayed to either relieve him from pain, or life. ”

The entire family was gathered in Bangalore for Feroz Khan’s funeral which took place on Monday at 5 pm.

The funeral procession left at around 2 pm from Feroz’s farm house after the afternoon prayers.

“The entire family was here towards his end literally feeding him out of our hands, ” says the grief-stricken sibling. “And he enjoyed his glass of wine in the evenings with us till the end. He was a very loving friend and bhai. ”

Said Akbar, “We buried him next to our mother. It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t bring him back to Mumbai for so many of his friends and well-wishers to see him for the last time. But his last wish was to lie eternally next to our mother in our home town near Bangalore. And we had to fulfill that wish. ”

Restraining his grief the youngest Khan sibling says, “He was much loved by all his friends and colleagues. Contrary to his flamboyant image he was a very gentle sensitive soul. Even in his frail condition towards the end he'd get up his chair to greet each one of us in the family no matter how old or young. He was a friend first, then a father-figure. ”

“He was fearless even when faced with death, ” says Feroz Khan’s youngest brother. “He was the apple of our mother’s eyes. All of us five brothers and two sisters looked up to him. We’ve lost a father-figure. But he’s relieved of his pain. But he was fearless…to the end. He didn’t even fear death. He’d always be with us.”