Salim Khan was born in the city of Indore in Indore State a princely state in British India (modern day Madhya Pradesh, India) into an affluent family. Khan's grandfather, Anwar Khan, was an Alakozai Pashtun who migrated from Afghanistan to India in the mid-1800s and served in the cavalry of the British Indian Army.. Khan's family tended to look for employment in government service, and eventually settled in Indore.
Salim Khan was the youngest child of his parents, both of whom died by the time he was 14 years old. His father, Abdul Rashid Khan, had joined the Indian Imperial Police and had risen to the rank of DIG-Indore, which was the highest police rank open to an Indian in British India. Salim's mother died when he was only nine years old. She had suffered from tuberculosis for four years before her death, and therefore it was forbidden for the younger children come close to her or hug her; Salim therefore had little contact with his mother even before her early death. His father also died in January 1950, when he was only fourteen years old. Two months later, in March 1950, Salim (who attended St. Raphaels' School in Indore) appeared for his matriculation examination. He did moderately well, and enrolled in Holkar College, Indore, and completed his BA. His elder brothers supported him with funds drawn from the family's substantial wealth, to the extent that he was given a car of his own while he was a college student. He excelled in sports, especially cricket, and it was for being a star cricketer that he was allowed by the college to enroll for a master's degree at the end of his bachelors. During these years, he also became enamored of films, and received encouragement from classmates, who told him that with his exceptional good looks, he should try to become a film star.
While he was an MA student in Indore, Salim attended the wedding of Kamal Barjatya, son of film producer Tarachand Barjatya (founder of Rajshri Productions). Here, he was spotted by film director K. Amarnath, who was impressed by his good looks and offered him a supporting role in his forthcoming film Baraat. He would be paid Rs.1000/- as a signing amount and a monthly salary of Rs.400/- for the period of shooting. Salim accepted and moved to Mumbai, living in a small rented apartment in Mahim. While Baraat was duly made and released in 1960, it did not do too well, and in any case, his role was a minor one. Salim got into the usual 'struggle' situation of wannabe actors, working in minor roles, being typecast as a good-looking supporting actor, and gradually descending into B-grade films. Over the next decade, he acted in what he calls “indifferent roles," playing minor characters in about two dozen films, but so minor were his appearances that his name does not appear on the credits of several of these films; his credits amount to a total of 14 films till 1970, and one final appearance in 1977. These included Teesri Manzil (1966), Sarhaadi Lootera (1966) and Diwaana (1967). His most substantial role, for which he did receive some notice, was in Teesri Manzil (1966), where his role as the hero's friend was a meaty one, and his entry scene got a very good build-up.
Salim met Javed Akhthar for first time during the making of the film Sarhadi Lootera, which was to be Salim's last acting appearance. Javed, who served as a clapper boy when shooting began, was later made the dialogue writer for the film by director S.M. Sagar. Their friendship began while both were working in this film, and developed further because their bosses were neighbours to each other. Salim Khan got a job assisting writer/director Abrar Alvi in finalizing screenplays and dialogues, while Javed Akhtar began assisting Kaifi Azmi in a similar capacity, with focus on honing poetry. Abrar Alvi and Kaifi Azmi were neighbours, and therefor Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar used to see a lot of each other. The duo hit it off well and formed a script-writing team that came to be known as Salim-Javed. Salim used to form stories and plots whereas Javed used to develop the dialogues and occasionally the song-lyrics for those films. They used to brainstorm and come to conclusions regarding the final draft of the film.
The Salim-Javed duo were hired by G. P. Sippy to work for Sippy Films as resident screenwriters. They produced the screenplays for several successful films like Andaz, Seeta Aur Geeta, Sholay and Don. Their first big success was the script for Andaz, followed by Adhikar (1971), Haathi Mere Saathi and Seeta Aur Geeta (1972). They also had hits in Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973), Zanjeer (1973), Haath Ki Safai (1974), Deewaar (1975), Sholay (1975), Chacha Bhatija (1977), Don (1978), Trishul (1978), Dostana (1980), Kranti (1981), Zamana (1985) and Mr. India (1987). They have worked together in 24 films including two Kannada films – Premada Kanike and Raja Nanna Raja. Of the 24 films they wrote 20 were hits. The scripts they wrote but which were not successful at box office include Aakhri Dao (1975), Immaan Dharam (1977), Kaala Patthar (1979) and Shaan (1980). Though they split in 1982, due to ego issues, some of the scripts they wrote were made into films later like Zamana and Mr. India which became successful. Salim-Javed, many a time described as "the most successful scriptwriters of all-time", are also noted to be the first scriptwriters in Indian cinema to achieve star status.
The Salim-Javed duo were also notable for causing several changed to be made in the way scriptwriters were perceived and treated within the Hindi film industry. Until the 1970s, there was no concept of having the same people write screenplay, story and dialogue. Nor were writers usually named in the credits of the film; junior, struggling writers in particular were simply paid and sent away. Salim-Javed changed this situation. Since their scripts were so successful, they had the power to make demands on film-makers. They not only insisted on being paid much more than what had been the norm until then, but also ensured that their name was on the film credits, and also that they were involved at many stages of the process, including screenplay and dialogues. Rajesh Khanna is credited with having been an early adherent to their new system. Javed Akhtar accepted in an interview that "One day, he (Rajesh Khanna) went to Salimsaab and said that Mr. Devar had given him a huge signing amount with which he could complete the payment for his bungalow Aashirwad. But the film was a remake and the script of the original was far from being satisfactory. He told us that if we could set right the script, he would make sure we got both money and credit." This was their first break as script-writers, and the film, Haathi Mere Saathi, went on to become a big hit.
Salim Khan after split from Javed wrote script and dialogues for successful movies like Angaaray (1986 film), Naam, Jurm and Kabzaa. Again Rajesh Khanna was responsible in giving Salim a revival in films as he asked director Rajesh Sethi to go to Salim and rework on the script he had.
Salim not very active in films from 1996 as the fold he wrote like Akayla, Toofan and others between 1988 and 1996 flopped. He wrote scripts for thirteen films from 1983 to 1996, after his split with Javed Akhthar. These included Majdhaar and the hit film Patthar Ke Phool which starred his son Salman Khan. Other notable hits were the scripts for Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya and Auzaar, both of which were produced by his youngest son Sohail Khan and starred Salman.
Khan is married to two ladies concurrently. His first marriage was to Sushila Charak, a Hindu Rajput, on 18 November 1964. Sushila's father, Baldev Singh Charak, was a Hindu Dogra Rajput from Jammu, while her mother was a Maharashtrian Hindu lady. Khan and Sushila/Salma have four children together; three sons, Salman, Arbaaz and Sohail, and one daughter, Alvira Khan Agnihotri. In 1981, Khan married actress Helen Richardson, a Christian lady whose father was Anglo Indian and mother was Burmese. Some years later, they adopted a girl named Arpita, daughter of a homeless woman who died on a Mumbai footpath.
Khan's eldest son, Salman Khan, is one of the most commercially successful actors of Indian cinema. His other two sons, Arbaaz and Sohail, are also actors and film producers. His elder daughter Alvira is married to former actor and film-maker Atul Agnihotri, while his younger daughter Arpita is married to Aayush Sharma, grandson of Sukh Ram, a former Minister of Himachal Pradesh and long-time member of the Congress party.With Javed Akhtar
As Salim Khan
Mast Kalandar (1991)
Patthar Ke Phool (1991)
Aa Gale Lag Jaa (1994)
Dil Tera Diwana (1996)
Lifetime Achievement Honour at Apsara Film & Television Producers Guild Award in January 2014.
Was due to receive a Padma Shri in 2014 but rejected it saying he deserved a Padma Bhushan at least.