Kabir Khan, the man who gave us movies like ‘New York‘ and ‘Ek Tha Tiger‘ holds a unique talent for setting up stories around the backdrop of international affairs. His movies are just commercially successful but are equally acclaimed by critics. Kabir, who happens to be a documentary filmmaker uses the scenic beauty of his location to its full potential, making a movie a visual treat to the eyes.
Kabir’s an excellent storyteller and his life is no less than a gripping story within itself. He has traveled extensively and derives inspiration from the places he visits and the people he meets.
Kabir started his career at age 25 as a cinematographer for the Discovery Channel documentary film Beyond the Himalayas (1996) directed by Gautam Ghosh.
He then made his own directorial debut with the documentary The Forgotten Army (1999) based on Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army. He then directed two more documentaries before shifting his focus to mainstream cinema.
Kabir made his Bollywood debut with Kabul Express in 2006 and there has been no stopping ever since. However, coming from a documentary background, venturing into Bollywood wasn’t easy. It took Kabir a lot of efforts to finally associate himself with the Yash Raj banner and we are certainly glad that it happened.
Here are some interesting facts about Kabir’s life that define his personality and justify his filmmaking style.
1) Connection with the Former Indian President
Kabir was born to a north Indian Muslim father and a south Indian Hindu mother. His father, Rasheeduddin Khan, hailed from Kaimganj in Farrukhabad district, Uttar Pradesh, and was a nephew of Dr. Zakir Hussain (who was the President of India from 1967 to 1969). Kabir is married to former TV host Mini Mathur, a Hindu. They have two children Vivaan and Sairah.
2) No one wanted to buy his first film, Kabul Express
During an interview, he stated how it wasn’t easy for him to get producers for ‘Kabul Express’ and even though people appreciated the story, no one was ready to produce it until he met Aditya Chopra who agreed upon taking the risk.
3) His Pathan roots
He has also confessed to having a childhood obsession with Afghanistan. He believes it is because of his Pathan roots and a book by Aldous Huxley that inspired him to trace his own roots.
4) After 9/11, a passenger refused to fly in the same aircraft as him
He confessed how he had to go through a lot of hate post 9/11 and flying to America wasn’t all that easy.
In fact, a passenger once refused to fly in the same aircraft as Kabir and the situation got so bad that the FBI had to be called in. Eventually, Kabir was allowed back on the flight and the man who had issued was asked to deboard.
5) He was denied a visa for the US while shooting for ‘New York’
Kabir was also denied a visa during the time he wanted to visit New York with his team while he was shooting for ‘New York’. It was Aditya Chopra who used his contacts and ensured that Kabir gets to New York.
6) The origin of Tiger
Kabir has traveled to Afghanistan extensively and it was during one of his visits when he heard about a spy named Tiger. It was in the year 2001 when he overheard local people and spies in Afghanistan talk about a notorious spy and the same character was penned down for Salman for ‘Ek Tha Tiger’.
7) When Kabir Khan got stuck in an active minefield
Kabir’s life is full of adventure and risk and this one time he ventured into a field in Afghanistan to capture the mountain range on his camera. What he didn’t know at the time was that the field he was walking briskly in was an active minefield and one wrong step could blow him apart to tatters.
Luckily, the mud was slightly moist and he could trace his footprints back to the right path otherwise the adventure and the scenic beauty could have turned into an ordeal.
8) The most life-threatening situation
Despite traveling to dangerous countries all his life, the only time he had a near death experience was when he was shooting a documentary in Bihar.
The story was to revolve around the gun culture in Bihar and because permissions could not be sorted, Kabir and the crew were shooting it undercover. They experienced gun firing from all sides during the time they were visiting a village with Pappu Yadav. A bullet flew pass Kabir from so close that he could feel his hair lift.
Kabir’s roller-coaster life reflects in his movies and that is what makes them so interesting and relatable. We absolutely love how he adds a little essence of his life in the movies that he directs.
We certainly need more filmmakers like him who combine entertainment with international affairs and bring it to the big screen.