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How Kader Khan became Bollywood’s go-to dialogue writer: When an impressed Manmohan Desai gifted him his TV, gold bracelet

On Kader Khan's 84th birth anniversary, here's looking at the early career of the actor as a dialogue writer and how he did some of his best work with Prakash Mehra and Manmohan Desai.

Written by Sampada Sharma | New Delhi |
Updated: October 23, 2021 8:34:16 am
kader khanKader Khan was one of the most popular dialogue writers on the 1970s. (Photo: Express Archives)

The 90s kids remember Kader Khan from his many outings with David Dhawan and Govinda. However, long before his name became synonymous with capers, Kader Khan was the man who penned crackling dialogues for films like Amar Akbar Anthony, Muqaddar Ka Sikander, Yaarana, Roti, Khel Khel Mein, Rafoo Chakkar, Lawaaris, Parvarish, Namak Halal, Coolie amongst many others. His collaboration with directors like Prakash Mehra and Manmohan Desai livened up the era when dialoguebaazi was accepted and encouraged in Hindi film.

There is a distinct style of dialogue that we often think of while talking about the mainstream Hindi cinema of the 1970s. Take, for instance, this dialogue from Muqaddar Ka Sikander – ‘Zindagi mein log mohabbat ke sahare jeete hai, main aapki nafrat ke sahare jeeyunga,’ or this one from Rajesh Khanna starrer Roti – ‘Kasoor mera nahi roti ki kasam, bhook ki duniya mein imaan badal jaate hain’. You are instantly transported to a world where heroes take a moment to enunciate these lines and the audience can’t help but say ‘waah’ at these dialogues. Much of this style of Hindi film dialogue can be credited to Kader Khan as he was the man for the job for most of this era.

In an interview with Patcy N in 2012, Kader Khan had shared that he fell into writing dialogues for Hindi movies by accident. It was the early 1970s when Kader was writing and performing in plays and after winning one such competition, one of the guests offered him the job of writing dialogues for Randhir Kapoor and Jaya Bhaduri starrer 1972 film Jawaani Dewani. “I told him I don’t know how to write film dialogue. He told me to write the way I write and that’s how my writing career in films started. I was paid Rs 1500,” he shared.

But soon after, Kader Khan got his second job as a dialogue writer, and this time, it came with a significant pay-raise. From Rs 1,500 for his first film, Kader Khan got to Rs 21,000 for his second film and the film was Khel Khel Mein. Starring Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh, Khel Khel Mein was an instant hit. There was no looking back after this one. It was his meeting with Manmohan Desai that turned things around in a massive way. Desai was known for making mainstream masala Bollywood films that had the audience cheering in the theatres so when the director hired Kader Khan for Rajesh Khanna starrer Roti, he struck gold.

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In his last interview with Filmfare, Kader Khan had shared that for Roti, he received a sum of Rs 1,21,000. “Manji declared, ‘My writer will be paid Rs 1,20,000’,” shared Khan. In another interview, Kader had shared that Desai had given him the task to write a few sample dialogues and if those sound impressive, only then his hiring will be finalised. When Kader Khan landed at his doorstep with his finished work, Desai wasn’t too keen but as soon as he heard the dialogues, he couldn’t hold his joy. Kader shared that Desai ran to his room and brought out a black and white television set and gifted it to him on the spot. Along with that, he also gifted him a gold bracelet and gave him Rs 20,000 advance in cash. The amount of 1,21,000 was decided because Desai wanted to pay him one lakh more than his previous assignment. Such was the effect of Kader Khan’s dialogues!

Apart from writing heavy-duty yet classic dialogues, Kader Khan would often appear on screen as well but only in villainous roles. But after Jeetendra and Sridevi starrer Himmatwala, where he first ventured into comedy, the audience started associating him with comic roles. The writer Kader Khan was now getting as much appreciation as an actor.

kader khan govinda Kader Khan, David Dhawan, Govinda had a great partnership in the 1990s. (Photo: Express Archives)

His comedy streak clicked with the audience quite well and continued until the late 1990s-early 2000s, where he frequently collaborated with David Dhawan and Govinda. Kader shared in an interview with Rediff in 2012 that while he enjoyed working with David, he was only writing dialogues for himself and Govinda. “With David Dhawan, his stories were completely different, mostly slapstick comedy. I did all the ‘No 1’ series with Govinda. But, here, I was mostly acting in their films; I did not write the dialogues. Rumi Jaffery was writing dialogues. I just wrote my dialogues and Govinda’s, but there is a difference in writing a whole script and writing dialogues of just two characters. Still, I continued working with David and Govinda,” he said.


Kader Khan was one of those lucky few artistes who was embraced by Hindi cinema viewers through different phases of his career. An actor who plays serious, comedy roles, and a writer who gave us dialogues that can still generate thunderous applause. Kader Khan was an institution who will be remembered for years to come.

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First published on: 22-10-2021 at 08:14:07 am

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