Qurbani (1980) was not only the biggest hit of the year but also sold the most number of records and tapes in that year and is said to have ushered in the “Disco Revolution” in India that lasted until the mid-80s. Qurbani was an adaptation of the Italian film, The Master Touch (1972) and was remade in Tamil as Viduthalai (1986) starring Sivaji Ganesan, Rajinikanth, and Vishnuvardhan in the lead roles.
The film begins on a somber note with a two-minute tribute to the 33-year-old politician Sanjay Gandhi, youngest son of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Sanjay Gandhi had passed away earlier that year in a glider crash. The actor, producer, director promised to donate the proceeds accruing from the collective premiere of Delhi and his home city of Bangalore in the ‘memory of the sleeping prince.’ Interestingly, the two debonair male leads, 33-year-old Vinod Khanna and FK then 40 came face to face only after half of the film almost eighty minutes into the movie. Feroz Khan had initially offered Amitabh Bachchan the role of Amar. But Amitabh was not available for next six months hence the role went to Vinod Khanna.
Feroz Khan met Biddu and Nazia Hassan at a party hosted by a close friend in England in 1980. Another version that floats around is that it was Zeenat Aman who had asked Feroz Khan to check out the teenager’s singing as Nazia was the daughter of her family friends. Anyway, Nazia’s parents did insist that Feroz listen to their daughter sing. Feroz did and was highly impressed. But Feroz had his eye on International star Biddu who was reluctant to score music for a single song in Qurbani. He was worn down due to Feroz’s persistence and emotional blackmailing that Biddu do the score for his mom who lived in India. Feroz upped the ante and played the Banglore card since Feroz and Biddu both hailed from Banglore. Many music directors including the film’s original music directors Kalyanji Anandji lobbied with Feroz Khan not to hire Biddu, a rank outsider to score a solo song in the film. Feroz Khan stuck to his choice or guns and history was to be created.
As it happened it was now Nazia Hasan who was most unwilling to sing and had to be goaded by Feroz Khan to show up at the recording studio with her guitarist brother where a harried Biddu played his composition, a rip-off of the popular Boney M hit, Rasputin for the teenage duo! Zoheb and Nazia already adept at writing, composing and singing their music refused to collaborate! An irate Biddu stomped out of the studio livid at the audacity of the teenagers and an exasperated Feroz Khan tried to placate Nazia by telling her that she was on the verge of blowing her big chance! Feroz Khan managed to convince Biddu to return to the studio and pacified him into listening to the teenagers’ music. Nazia sang Zoheb played the guitar and a visibly awed Biddu reassured a worried Feroz Khan that he was more than willing to collaborate with the sister-brother duo!
The arrival of the disco era in India is said to arrive with Aap jaisa koi recorded on 24 tracks when the norm was to record on 4-5 tracks sung by Nazia Hassan while Zeenat Aman shimmied in a golden dress designed by Feroze Khan’s first wife, Sundari. The song was monster of a hit and lore has it that 40,000 people gathered at the Santa Cruz airport the very day for the darshan of a 16-year-old Nazia whose flight had landed just minutes before Mrs.Indira Gandhi was scheduled to arrive in the city on an official tour!
\Nazia Hassan (1965-2000) was a lawyer by profession when suffering from lung cancer she passed away in London at the age of 35. Her song Aap Jaisa Koi made her the first Pakistani, youngest singer and awardee to receive a Filmfare, a record that survives till date. Her first music album Disco Deewane (1981) sold 60 million copies globally! Nazia and her brother Zohaib Hassan released five albums before she quit music in 1992, got married in 1997 and was formally divorced days before her death.
The rest of the songs and the background score were set by Kalyanji-Anandji. The hit qawwali Qurbani Qurbani was penned by the Urdu poet, Faruk Kaiser and rendered by Anwar, Kishore Kumar and Aziz Nazan received a special award for ‘The Most Amazing Evergreen Song’ for the composer duo. Mohd. Rafi sang Kya Dekhte Ho, written by Indeevar. The hit song, Laila o Laila was rumored to be a lift of Black Blood (1975) by Chicano.
Feroz Khan loved showing oomph and style and both in large measures, as evident in Qurbani, a simple love triangle turned on its head and mounted as one of the most lavish productions of the 70s. From destroying brand new cars, filming extensive car chases in London to reconstructing lavish sets Feroz Khan as a producer saved the destruction of a brand new Mercedes as a cherry on the top! The scene where FK chastises a haughty Puri by demolishing his opulent Mercedes banging it against the walls and pillars of a basement parking without any remorse was something never attempted in an Indian film and of course, no producer would attempt later. The climax was shot in London. The UK stunts were designed and arranged by James Dowdall, photographed by Eric Van Herren and produced by Nick Farnes who, with James Dowdall, wrote the UK scenario. FK also turned a full-fledged editor with this film.
The mastermind villain in Qurbani was amazingly a woman, Aruna Irani with her screen sibling Shakti Kapoor as a psychotic henchman. Qurbani’s repeat value lies in its high-adrenaline action and seductive imagery against Kalyanji-Anandji’s snazzy background music score.
Shakti Kapoor grew up in Karol Bagh, Delhi. His father sold cloth and had a tailoring shop. After college, Shakti Kapoor trained for six months to start a travel agency with a portion of his father’s cloth shop for the travel agency, but his father refused and a hurt Shakti Kapoor joined FTTI, Pune and did a two-year diploma course in acting along with Naseeruddin Shah and Anil Verma. He signed his first film, Arjun Hingorani’s Khel Khilari Ka in 1975, while still at the institute.
Shakti Kapoor had done about 15 films before Qurbani. Shakti Kapoor met Feroz khan when his 1961 Fiat, bought from the modeling money collided with Feroz Khan’s brand new Mercedes on Linking Road in Bandra. Kapoor immediately got down looking for a fight but soon apologized to Feroz Khan, and expressed his desire to play a role in his upcoming film.
Feroz Khan at the time of the accident was busy writing Qurbani with his writer K K Shukla and left in his car as a crowd had accumulated. At his office, he mentioned to KK Shukla about the menace Kapoor’s eyes reflected and cast him as the film’s villain!
Amjad Khan’s performance is one of the coolest cop portrayals in Bollywood history. His rotund maverick police officer continually chews gum, wears a goofy grin, quotes Ghalib straightens a tilted jeep with his bare hands and changes disguise at the drop of a hat, he is like a Ustinov blended with Bruce Lee!
It can be called a quirk of cruel fate that Qurbani, unfortunately, starred three male leads, who most, unfortunately, died on the same date of 27th. Amjad Khan succumbed to Congestive heart failure on July 27, 1992. Feroz Khan died on April 27, 2009, at 69 after battling lung cancer and Vinod Khanna died of bladder cancer at 70 on April 27, 2017.
Feroz Khanna and Vinod Khanna first worked together in the dacoit drama Shankar Shambhu (1976), in the title roles.
With Qurbani, FK hit the prime of his creativity. His following films crafted in his usual blustery style failed to match the originality of Apradh, Dharmatma or this one. The late legend wished to remake the film with his son, Fardeen and Saif Ali Khan but never came to realize his cherished dream.