Sayaddana Iftekhar Ahmed Shareef, often mononymously credited as Iftekhar, (22 February 1920 – 4 March 1995), was an Indian actor who mainly worked in Hindi cinema. He is especially known for his roles as a police officer.

Sayeedana Iftekhar Ahmed Shareef

(1920-02-22)22 February 1920
Died4 March 1995(1995-03-04) (aged 75)
(Present day: Mumbai),
Maharashtra, India
Other namesIftekhar
Years active1938–1992


Iftekhar was born in Jalandhar and was the eldest among four brothers and a sister. After completing his matriculation, Iftekhar did a diploma course in painting from Lucknow College Of Arts. Iftekhar had a passion for singing and was impressed with the famous singer Kundanlal Sehgal. In his 20s, Iftekhar travelled to Calcutta for an audition conducted by the music composer Kamal Dasgupta, who was then serving for HMV. Dasgupta was so impressed by Iftekhar's personality that he recommended his name to M. P. Productions as an actor.

Iftekhar made his debut in the 1944 film Taqraar, which was made under the banner of Art Films-Kolkata.

Many of Iftekhar's close relatives, including his parents and siblings, migrated to Pakistan during the partition. He would have preferred to stay in India, but rioting forced him to leave Calcutta. Along with his wife and daughters, he moved to Bombay, where they struggled to make ends meet. Iftekhar had been introduced to actor Ashok Kumar during his time in Calcutta and contacted him in Bombay, gaining a role in the Bombay Talkies movie Muqaddar (1950). Iftekhar acted in over 400 films in a career that spanned from the 1940s through to the early 1990s.

Like many of the older character actors who populated the Bollywood universe of the 1960s and 1970s, Iftekhar had been a lead actor in his youth during the "golden age" of Bollywood, in the 1940s and 1950s. His roles ranged from father, uncle, great-uncle, grandfather, police officer, police commissioner, courtroom judge and doctor. He also did negative roles in Bandini, Sawan Bhadon, Khel Khel Mein and Agent Vinod.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Iftekhar graduated to playing uncle, father, and what came to be his speciality: police inspector roles, doctor or senior advocate. Generally he played "sympathetic" characters but, on occasion, he played the heavy. One of his most memorable roles as a heavy was as Amitabh Bachchan's corrupt industrialist mentor in Yash Chopra's classic Deewaar (1975). Another of Iftekhar's classic roles was as the police inspector in Prakash Mehra's Zanjeer. It was a small part, but the scene where Iftekhar reprimands the near-hysteric Amitabh Bachchan for taking the law into his own hands is incredibly powerful. Another important role as a police officer was played by him in the 1978 hit film Don. Some of his major roles came in Rajesh Khanna films such as Joroo Ka Ghulam, Mehboob Ki Mehndi, The Train , Khamoshi, Safar, Raja Rani, Ittefaq, Rajput and Awam.

Besides Deewaar and Zanjeer, Iftekar had character roles in many of the classics of 1960s, 1970s, 1980s Bollywood cinema: Bimal Roy's Bandini, Raj Kapoor's Sangam, Manoj Kumar's Shaheed, Teesri Manzil, Teesri Kasam, Johny Mera Naam, Hare Rama Hare Krishna, Don, The Gambler and Sholay, to name but a few.

Apart from Hindi films, he appeared in two episodes of the American TV series Maya in 1967 as well the English language films Bombay Talkie (1970) and City of Joy (1992).

Personal life

Iftekhar married Hannah Joseph, a Jewish woman from Calcutta, who changed her name to Rehana Ahmed and died on 27 May 2013. They had two daughters.

Selected filmography


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