Feel the love! Chandramohan

I will never forget my first glimpse of Chandramohan as a bloodthirsty Rajput in Mehboob Khan’s historical Humayun. Those pale and compelling eyes! That determined hunger for vengeance! I was instantly enchanted by his persistent enmity in the face of his foe’s tolerant goodwill. Indeed, Chandramohan dominates my review of that film. His flamboyant appearance and theatrics were unforgettable.

Then I saw him in Pukar as the Mughal emperor Jehangir and he caught my heart. His tender chemistry with Naseem Banu as Noor Jehan and fine performance as the legendary king bowled me over. His astonishing good looks and unique speaking voice did not hurt either! Again, he dominated my post on the movie.

So of course I had to know more about this gorgeous and charismatic actor, and the first thing I discovered is that he died in his early 40s on Saturday 2 April 1949, penniless. Nooooooooo!!!! Nahiiin!

But there was a silver lining: if there’s one source of information that reliably does show up on the interwebs, it’s an obituary. I found one in the April 1949 issue of Sound magazine on Surjit Singh’s invaluable website which ran into four pages and soon realized that he was as colorful a character in real life as he was onscreen.

One of those larger-than-life people you rarely see anymore, he was generous to a fault, a favorite with the ladies (I have such impeccable taste!) and a lover of the finer things in life. He counted among his friends contemporaries like Motilal, K.N. Singh, K.L. Saigal and Prithviraj Kapoor, and a few Maharajahs with whom he shared a passion for horse racing.

He was born in Narsinghpur in what was then known as the Central Provinces to Kashmiri Brahmin parents on July 24, 1906 and named Chandramohan Watal. His mother died when he was very small and he was brought up “with great indulgence” by his maternal grandmother. He left home in 1930 and took a series of odd jobs, including managing a cinema and a film distributorship. During this last job he met V. Shantaram of Prabhat, who was struck by his pale gray-green eyes and thought he would make an excellent actor.

Chandramohan refused him at first but a couple of years later agreed to appear in the Hindi version of 1934’s Amrit Manthan as a seriously intimidating high priest. Amrish Puri had nothing on him! The film famously opens with a closeup of his eyes and pans out slowly to reveal his face. I would love to see it, but have only been able to find the Marathi version of the film; that scene is missing from my copy anyway. I fondly nurture the idea that Shantaram maybe used some Chandramohan closeups in it though.

Sadly I have not been able to find any color pictures of him, although I have also read that he went prematurely gray in his late teens. But certainly even black and white film shows how fiercely dramatic his eyes and expression were. Even surrounded by a thick thatch of wig and beard, they are startling in their intensity.

In his Filmindia obituary of Chandramohan, Baburao Patel wrote:

Syed Fateh Lal, the great artist of Prabhat, was so much fascinated by Chandramohan’s unique eyes that he would sit for hours looking at them wondering how they would be received on the screen.

He was a huge star from Amrit Manthan onwards, and soon became the highest paid actor in Indian cinema. In the thirties, actors worked for specific studios much as their counterparts in Hollywood did, and Chandramohan was one of the first to break that trend. He left Prabhat in 1937 after a disagreement with Shantaram over whether the studio made an actor successful or it worked the other way around. He went on to work at several other studios for a short time before becoming a “free-lancer.” In the December 1941 Filmindia, he is quoted as saying:

I never work for money (that rolls in automatically) but only to satisfy the artist in me…I like to be able to express my own ideas about how I should play a scene. A director must say what he wants to say to the public through the artiste, but the artiste must have some say in the matter. If directors could act they would not need to have artistes to put over their films, but as long as they can’t act they must allow actors more scope for interpreting the role in the way they think is best.

He also nursed an ambition to go to Hollywood, where he wanted to do horror films and Buster Keaton’s kind of comedies “where the characters would be serious but the situations funny”—but sadly this dream was never realized.

Chandramohan spent the lakhs of rupees he earned for each film entertaining his friends and on his beloved race horses. He was a loner who never married “because if I did I would lose my individuality and I wouldn’t be able to take chances.” He enjoyed the company of friends but lived by himself and liked being alone. His attitude towards his fellow men was practical:

Man is a compound of good and bad. If a man is not that way he is not a man.

He was often accused of being arrogant and defended himself:

I am not a brag. I just state facts. If a man talks a lot he’s called a brag and if he doesn’t have anything to say, he’s called a fool, so I just state the truth about myself and let people think what they like.

Baburao Patel was often asked about him by readers in the Q&A sections of Filmindia:

Q: I want to know something about Chandramohan?

A: Write to him [address] and he will tell you everything. He doesn’t give others a chance to tell his story.

Q: Has Chandramohan sung in any of his films?

A: Chandramohan seems to have more sense than Motilal, and spares us the torture on the screen. Chandramohan, however, insists on tickling our ears on the sets.

Baburao shared Chandramohan’s love for racing and horses (he owned a thoroughbred named—what else?—Filmindia) and would comment occasionally on the losses which Chandramohan was piling up. He wrote once:

At the Race Course [Chandramohan] has become too popular with the bookies who want his autograph on the cheque book.

Chandramohan—who had long been an avowed atheist—became quite obsessed by the end of his life with religion, and especially the goddess Kali. He began drinking quite heavily and talked often about his dreams, especially one he had about his racehorse Kanta. He dreamed one night that Kanta fell and broke her leg at the fifth furlong post while racing, and asked his trainer the next morning if she was okay for the race she was scheduled to run that day. The trainer assured Chandramohan that Kanta had every chance to win the race—but she fell and broke her leg at the fifth furlong post.

These dreams and religious fanaticism came at a point after several years of flop films followed by little work, when his extravagant lifestyle had drained his once healthy bank account. His obituary in Sound magazine says that he often would say “I’ve lost Laxmi, but I’ve found Kali Mata.”

Although his fortunes appeared to be turning the corner at the time of his death (he had several new films in hand), he died penniless and his funeral rites were paid for by the Film Artistes’ Association. He left his female companion of three years, Sheila, and no doubt a string of broken hearts behind him; and we fans of Hindi cinema bereft of what could have been many more hours of his intensely magnetic screen presence to enjoy (he was famously K. Asif’s first pick to play Akbar in Mughal-e-Azam—Prithviraj Kapoor eventually replaced him).

He would have appeared with Nargis and Veena too, if K. Asif had managed to keep the project going through the upheaval of Partition.

Here he is with Veena in Humayun (he played her fiance, although his heart in that film was mostly devoted to retribution):

The headline of his obituary in Filmindia read “A Lion At Rest!”:

Leonine in bearing and noble in character, Chandramohan was recognized as a great friend and sportsman to whom all rushed in their hour of need.

Baburao also wrote in his “You’ll Hardly Believe” feature:

That Sardar Chandulal Shah can never excuse Chandramohan for dying on a Saturday—a race day. But the next day was also a race day and Chandramohan was too much in a hurry to wait till Monday to enable the Sardar to attend his funeral.

That almost every artiste, producer and journalist attended Chandramohan’s funeral but none from Ranjit was seen. Is every one in Ranjit a horse lover?

That when V. Shantaram…heard of old Chandramohan’s sudden death he felt like a sculptor whose model had been suddenly broken. Had Chandramohan known this, he would have postponed the event.

(Sardar Chandulal Shah was the owner of Ranjit Studios and decidedly not a favorite of Baburao’s: he no doubt more than once accused Shah of selling out in favor of money over art, and likened Ranjit’s productions to “sausages.”)

I have seen Chandramohan in six films: Pukar, Amarjyoti, Humayun—all written about here—plus Vahan (1937), Roti (1942), and Shaheed (1948); and I’ve loved him in every single one even if I had no idea what was going on (but especially when I did!). No matter the character—fierce Rajput, benevolent Mughal, ruthless capitalist, scheming priest—it is hard to look at anyone else when he is onscreen.

He appeared opposite Ulhas and Leela Chitnis in Vahan, playing Leela’s father.

His body of work is not as large as it would have been had he lived longer; but he was one of the very first cinema superstars, and an actor and man who deserves not to be forgotten!

My friend Atul sent a translation of an article about Chandramohan printed in a Hindi newspaper, and written by a very nice man named Raajkumar Keswani. He tells me he plans to post them in English as well sometime soon; for now, if you read Hindi you can find his article here along with a followup letter which he received from Chandramohan’s 82-year-old nephew afterwards. I found the letter particularly interesting, of course, and am posting Atul’s translations at the end here if you are interested too. You can also download the issue of Sound magazine linked above which contains his obituary if you want to read the whole thing; and I am including the wonderful Chandramohan interview from the December 1941 issue of Filmindia.

In his article, Mr. Keswani says that he is writing about Chandramohan in the hopes that some of the younger generation may thus discover him anew and explore his films. “When they watch these movies,” he says, “they will bless me.”

That perfectly sums it up for me too! Find a Chandramohan film, and watch it (I recommend Pukar or Roti, both outstanding movies). You can bless me or not, but you will rarely see a more compelling presence on screen: Chandramohan was—IS—truly one of a kind.


Chandramohan letter.pdf


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68 Comments to “Feel the love! Chandramohan”

  1. I’ve had Amarjyoti and humayun sitting on a shelf for 2 yrs now- ur post tells me i should finally see them :) Thanks for sharing.

  2. Wow!!!

    The post, the attachments and of course, the subject of the post.

    I have read the post, all the PDF attachments, the two letters in Hindi (it was great practice for my Hindi :-)).

    What can I say?

    I am feeling the love – and a lot of it.

    First about the subject of the post – Chandramohan.
    From all accounts, he was one of a kind. They really don’t make them like this anymore. In fact, I think they stopped making them like this long back.

    I am ashamed to say that I had not heard of him earlier. Or maybe I had just heard of him very very vaguely. I had certainly not seen any movie of his till I read about him on your blog.

    You spoke very highly of the man, his personality, his acting, his eyes, his screen presence. He stood out amongst all his contemporaries. And most of those who followed.

    Well, I got to see Roti, thanks to you, Greta.
    That was my introduction to the man.

    Normally, when somebody speaks so highly of another, a chance of a letdown is very real.

    But you were right this time!!! From the first time I saw him in Roti, from the time I heard that voice, I was hooked. Make no mistake – the voice does not get enough mention only because the eyes are so different that they are often the point of discussion. But his voice was also just amazing. And his diction – absolutely faultless and clear. I know. I was subtitling Roti and his dialogues were the easiest to subtitle. :-)

    Throughout Roti, I could not take my eyes off him. And that, inspite of having other very loveable stars like Sitara Devi, Sheikh Mukhtar and Begum Akhtar. When the camera is on him, others seem to just disappear into the background.

    I then saw Amar Jyoti. For a large part he has this scraggly, unkempt look which does not do justice to his majestic personality. But despite this, those eyes and that voice mesmerized me.

    I have not seen any other movie of his – but I now really want to. For him alone. Anything else in the movie is a bonus.

    It is a pity he died in such poverty. Having said that, he also seems to have died the way he lived life – without fear.

    It is clear from the interviews, articles that he had his own beliefs and convictions and just followed them. He seems to have enjoyed his all-too-brief life to the fullest. And that is always some consolation.

    Now about the articles, interviews and Greta’s post.

    Hmm…I am convinced that were it not been for a very small group of people like Mr. Keswani and Greta, people like Chandramohan would have comfortably been forgotten by future generations.

    This is no exaggeration. I myself had virtually not heard of him – and I am reasonably aware of old Hindi films and I belong to an older generation anyway. The chance that today’s youngsters, following today’s media, hear of the Chandramohans of Hindi cinema, is increasingly small.

    And what a pity that would be!

    For this alone, if for nothing else, I am totally indebted to Greta, Mr. Keswani and others who make such an effort to research and preserve old Hindi cinema material in whatever form possible. Preferably digital.
    And share this so open-heartedly with whoever is interested in knowing about this cinema, its actors, movies, music.

    This is one fantastic write-up, Greta. I can sense the love seeping through in this as you write about Chandramohan. And that is what it is about for him too.

    Like he himself supposedly said, he did not care too much about money. Anyway, now that he is dead, what does money matter for him?

    But, this post, Mr. Keswani’s writing, Chandramohan’s 82-year old nephew’s memories – these are what Chandramohan lived his life for. To be remembered for his acting, for the person he was.

    Chandramohan must be smiling up there today. He must be a very happy man today.

    You’ve made him a happy man, Greta.

    Sorry if this post got very long. I just got a bit emotional.

    Seeing Roti – then reading about him now – it is as if he is standing in front of me. Looking at me with those eyes of his, talking to me in that voice of his.

    • I will be writing up Roti soon, thanks to your subtitles ;) What an interesting and lovely film it is!!! and with all the charismatic people in it—and there are quite a few!—he does shine.

      He seems just the sort of person I think that most of us would like to be: open-hearted, generous, really ALIVE. He may have died penniless, but he lived a very full and rich life. He was true to himself, and that is a blessing for any of us to be able to say. I just love that Filmindia interview with him—am so envious of the woman who wrote it! Wish I could have met him.

  3. Another amazing post, Greta!

    I’ve learned more about Hindi cinema and its history from your blog than from any of the books I’ve acquired on the subject.

    Thank you for your passion and dedication and the willingness to share all that you know.

  4. What a fabulous post Greta, and to echo you, whatta a man!

    I go back to what Atul said in an earlier comment–you’re really the catalyst for such great stuff. Just think. Raja subtitling a 1941 film forgotten by everyone else; Tom D., Ava and Raja coming out with these beautifully reworked and subtitled songs and films, wah wah! Where are the miserable money bags in Bollywood? This after all is their industry and they have SO MUCH! Can’t they come together in a foundation of sorts and support these efforts so that many, many people who do this for love and in their spare time, can actually chuck up their day jobs and get paid to do what they do so well and love? Shame on any B’wood bigwig that chances on this blog. For once, forgo those ugly designer bags and shoes and fork some of it into doing something meaningful with it. *end rant*

    This is a beaut and I am v. happy to be your ‘lowly’ friend :-D

    • I saw Roti without subtitles, and even so knew that it had to be a really good film. You can just tell. And now that I have seen it with subs—wah! such an interesting movie on so many levels, and Chandramohan is awesome in it.

      Totally agree about the B’wood moneybags and their levels of indifference to the industry and its history. But it was ever thus with the “busy and important” ;-) Thank goodness I am not that busy OR important!!!

  5. @Greta – How can I ever thank you for this post? The information given in this post is more than all the articles published out there in the www. Your passion for Bollywood is truly inspiring.

    Looks like his DOB is not clear, in one of the PDF files, its showing as 1904, in the post its 1906 and in the www, its 1905. Maybe there is some digging required to know of the exact date.

    • I went with the one in the Filmindia obit, because I get the impression that he and Baburao were friends…at least that Baburao had a lot of respect for him. And Baburao is still one of the best journalists Hindi cinema has ever had!!!

      But yes—it’s not really clear :)

  6. Chandramohan seems to have inspired enough respect even in Baburao! :)

    Fabulous article as always, Memsaab. You ought to be paid by Bollywood for writing its history.

    • I think Baburao liked him, that’s the impression I get from my glimpses of him in those old magazines. I was beyond thrilled to find that interview with Chandramohan in that 1941 issue!

  7. When we talk of eyes of CM, and then go to KK and their expressions, I see long lost twin brothers .),

    Going to catch up with Roti as it also has one of my other fav in it, namely Sheikh Mukhtar.

    G8 write up G., good to see these guys are not forgotten.

    Cheers .)

    • YES!!!! Kamal Kapoor had that same intensity. Well, that’s why he was one of my favorites too.

      Sheikh Mukhtar is so fabulous in Roti too—and so young and thin!

    • A good observation, Ash. Their eyes indeed look very identical.

      I’ve heard that 7 people (not necessarily related) look identical in this world. Maybe its the same case with CM and KK.

      Imagine how it would be if Chandramohan and Amitabh had worked together in Don (1978) :-D

      • How about if Chandramohan and Amitabh AND KAMAL KAPOOR had all worked in Don!!!!


        • Shashi

          mera judwaa bhai kidhaar hai .).), dhoondo dhoondo .)

          But yeah that wud be something to see Chandramohan and Amitabh AND KAMAL KAPOOR under one roof. Wow.

          And G. after a long long delay watched another one of yr fav’s together, Sheikh M and Sudhir, as a hero and sings songs also, N.A. Maruti, Shetty… USTAD 420.

          SM superb as always along with the other crew, and by jove 10 on 10 in this VCD, both for audio and video.

          MD another under rated N.Datta bhau .)

          Cheers .)

          • @Ash – I will have to first search for you to know how your lookalike will look like :-)

          • Shashi- do yu remember that cute lil fella called PEDRO the ape, who came in many ZIMBO movies ,well something similar ho ho ho .)

            Cheers )

          • @Ash – Thanks for the identification :-). I have seen more than 7 such identical ‘people’. And incidentally, they were all carrying that ‘locket’ that they had with them when being separated during childhood. Show me yours and I’ll direct your twin brother here !!

            @Greta – One for for your artiste identification project !! :-D

          • Shashi

            u sure have a good sense of humor and me likes that, but yu know mera laakett kho gaya, woh villian hai nah, woh mera judwa bhai ban gaya, toh usko mein dheek karta hoon.0.).).)

            But folks a note, I will rate another g8 actor, forgotten, almost .See his Profile-


            I have seen him in many movies and I wil rate him among KK, Motilal, CM, Balraj Sahani……..

            We need to bring him in the our thoughts soon. I have quite a few of his movies, and never miss out if new ones come around.

            Cheers .)


          • You guys are nuts :) I really DO need to add Pedro the Ape Bomb to my Artist Gallery though! And several other anipals as well!!! Thank you for the reminder!

  8. As I have mentioned in my comments on “Raja Rani”, I discovered Chandra Mohan thanks to Greta’s gushing admiration for him. And when I got to read about Raj Kumar Keswani’s article, I brought it to the notice of Greta and gave her translations of the articles.

    Personally, I have watched Chandra Mohan only once and that was in a song that I posted in my blog. That song was not sung by him, it was sung by an actress in “Humaayun”(1945), but Chnadramohan was there in the picturisation. And what screen presence he had ! I was just floored. Such charisma, where one can floor people just by his looks and that too by the expressions in his eyes is smething to be seen to be believed. And this was an impression I got from a brief glimpse of Chandramohan in one song.

    I am one of those who need to watch Chandra Mohan movies. I need to download the stuff put up by our dear friends here. All these days, I was hampered by my inabilty to get a way to download all these files. Finally I have managed to download the files of Johny Walker and Laxmi Chhayaa and got them to work, it is time I got down to download Chandra Mohan with enhanced video and proper sub title done by our friends.

    • I do so appreciate the translations you sent me, especially the letter from his nephew! Much of the main article I think was from the same Sound magazine obituary that I link to, although it is well-written and interesting with other details I hadn’t known.

      The vcd of Roti is actually pretty clear video-wise, and if you don’t need subs probably your best bet for watching it (let me know if you can’t find it).

      If you do want subs, I can email you the subtitle files that Raja put together—they sync up properly with the vcd .DAT files and you can watch it with VLC on any computer.

  9. Doesnt’ he look a little like Kamal Kapoor–maybe it’s those eyes.

  10. Great actor, he was!
    I was mesmerised by him when I saw Amar Jyoti and then came Pukar. Though in Roti I didn’t recognise him at first.
    Thanks for all the links. I had always wondered what happened of him and why he didn’t appear in films of 50s and 60s.

    • Do see Humayun too, it’s pretty easy to find and he’s hilarious in it (possibly unwittingly, although I wouldn’t be suprised if he meant it to be funny at times too)…

      I totally fell head over heels for him in Pukar. He is just so….MAJESTIC. And so sweet with his beautiful Noor Jehan!

  11. I remember reading your humayun review, I was ROTFL when you talked about his character, who was always running around as if stung by a hornet!

    BTW don’t you think Vikram Gokhale (plays Aishwarya Rai’s father in Hum Dil de Chuke sanam) looks a bit like him especially in the 40s?

    • I’ll have to look at Vikram Gokhale again…last time I saw HDDCS Chandramohan was not yet on my radar.

      I just love his character in Humayun–he is so hell-bent on getting revenge by killing Humayun, but insists on doing it “honorably” (ie to his face and not behind his back). Ashok Kumar as Humayun refuses to cooperate. He keeps extending a friendly hand and won’t fight him. Chandramohan is so FRUSTRATED by it! Hilarious, hilarious, hilarious.

  12. “he was famously K. Asif’s first pick to play Jehangir in Mughal-e-Azam—Prithviraj Kapoor eventually replaced him”

    It would be Akbar, whom you mean I think. I also get confused quite often with the names! Sapru was supposed to play Jehangir/Salim

  13. I’m glad you got to see “Roti”. It’s one of my favorite “vintage” films and Chandramohan is largely the reason. It’s not possible to overstate the man’s charisma.

    The bit about CM being a KP and having grown up in his “matamal” (Mother’s home) explains and clarifies so much about him from his looks, to this arrogance and love of the good life.:-)

    PS. I might need your help in getting hold of a copy of “Amarjyoti.”

    • Sounds from his nephew’s letter that he was quite spoiled by his maternal grandmother :) I can only image what a very handsome kid he must have been too.

      I actually can’t wait to write about Roti—just won’t have time for a few days :(

      NP on the Amarjyoti :)

  14. That is a very well researched piece on Chandramohan and very interesting.

  15. Dear Memsaab, I’ve been lurking and reading your posts for a while now, and have enjoyed each one, though I’m not very knowledgeable about Hindi films before the 60s and 70s. This last post reminded me of a wonderful book that I had edited many years back. It is called Stars from Another Sky, The Bombay Film World of the 1940s. It’s a translation from Urdu of pieces on the film world of the time written by Saadat Hasan Manto. They are deliciously gossipy, insider pieces on people like Baburao Patel, Ashok Kumar etc. Thought this might be a book you would like to pick up, if you haven’t already. Do keep posting, it’s such a pleasure to read you. Cheers, Sudeshna

    • I LOVE THAT BOOK. Seriously: if I could choose only one book to take with me to a deserted island, that might be it. I have referred to it elsewhere on this blog quite a lot, even quoting it sometimes….would love to hear more about it—like what did you leave OUT?! :D I keep going back to it. (I love Manto’s short stories too, although his film world stories are the BEST.)

      It is a wonderful, wonderful book which you should be very proud of. I’m very happy and honored to meet you here :)

      • Another gossipy book is Ismat Chughtai, “A Strange Man,” (written in Urdu but available in English translated by Tahira Naqvi). Its about the Guru Dutt triangle but covers a lot of the film industry folks. Almost all the names have been changed (except for some like Meena Kumari, Rafi) but one has great fun trying to guess who’s who. I think with your indepth knowledge (and collection of old magazines) you can guess right more than me. (I think one of them is your fav. Shammi – and if I am right, its not a flattering picture!). Ismat Chugtai was another feisty lady – she wrote several screenplays. The famous film ‘Garam Hawa’ was based on one of her stories (it was the last picture of Balraj Sahani and many consider it to be his best act). She was a good friend of Manto.

        Have you seen Manto’s Mirza Ghalib (directed by Sohrab Modi, starring Bharat Bhushan – and Suraiya -both were superb). Manto wrote the screenplay – unfortunately he went over to the other side and this was filmed later. Still his look at the world emerges unmistakably in the film. But I wonder who would take on the job of sub-titling this film! It will be no small feat.

  16. @Greta – I guess the next artiste post will be based on Motilal?

    • I am sad to say that I haven’t seen a Motilal film, at least not where he was in his prime. Really would like to though!

      • One recommendation not to be missed – Mr. Sampath (1952).

        • Shashi
          keep on the radar a double bonanza by having Motibau and Chandramohanbau together in Destiny aka Taqdeer (1943).
          Am looking for this for ages.

          And def worth a watch is also
          Ab Dilli Dur Nahin (1957)
          again a double bonanza with Motibhau and my other top fav and very very under rated and never given his due today…YAKUB.

          Yu will spot lot of similarities in these 2 guys esp if they played a villain.And do yu know Yakubbau first made his debut way back in 1925, and was very much on the scene upto 1968. That is holding power and yu just dont make ’em anymore.

          We def need some spotlight on this personality also, am sure it will come in due course.

          Cheers .)

  17. I have very vague memories of Pukar, but back then I had eyes only for Sohrab Modi who was a big favorite after Prithvi Vallabh. I don’t even remember Chandramohan from Shaheed! :( And I thought I was a pretty flamboyance-conscious kid… I need to get my hands on some of his movies and experience this flamboyance onscreen. Wait… I have Humayun which I bought because of your review. *toddling off to watch Humayun*

    PS: LOVE that screencap from Amarjyoti – it looks like it should be labeled ‘Portrait of a fakir‘.

    • I kept thinking “Charles Manson” during Amarjyoti when he was onscreen. Not a good thing, except that Manson also had an electric charisma which he sadly channeled for evil purposes…

      Do tell me what you think of Humayun! Not his best film, but quite entertaining especially when he’s onscreen. Chandramohan played Dilip’s father in Shaheed and has what I imagine is a very stirring speech towards the end (although I’ve not been able to get it with subtitles)…


  18. What an article!!! Hats off to you for giving us this treat really! There are so many others who are literally forgotten today and can never be replaced by any of these jokers today! Like Kanhaiyalal, Om Prakash , Dhumal , Manorama . Lalita Pawar and many more…no one knows anything about them and these were the ones who gave us some of the best entertainment on the screen. Really sad.

  19. Have you seen Chandramohan in another Shantaram classic, Shakuntala? It is now available on Induna, but without subtitles. I enjoyed the movie and songs (by Jayshree, Amirbai, Zohrabai, etc.) a lot. It stars Chandramohan and singing-star Jayshree. I will try to write a review of it sometime in my Bollyblog: http://www.vintagebollyblog.blogspot.com
    Chandramohan was also nice in it, except for one enormous handgear that he wore.

    Also, a very young and skinny Chandramohan sung quite well in his first film, Amrit Manthan, where he was opposite Nalini Tarkhad and my favourite Shanta Apte was his sister. I could barely recognise him. Here two of Shanta’s songs became extremely popular which I have uploaded in my Youttube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/vidursury

    The Amrit Manthan I have is an unsubtitled Marathi version which was not so easy for me to understand too. By the way, Iam going to the film institute in October to try to get prints of some rare films. One of them is Naukar(1943) starring Chandramohan, my favourite Madam Noor Jehan and Shobhana Samarth. I enjoyed a couple of its songs a lot and love any Noor Jehan movie. So if both of us are lucky, we’ll get it.

    • I was recently notified that induna has Shaktuntala back in stock—it is supposed to be one of his best and I definitely want to get my hands on it.

      I have not been able to find the Hindi Amrit Manthan with Chandramohan although I have read about it. If you find Naukar do let me know!!! (I might even be able to convince Raja to subtitle it for those of us who need them!) :)

    • Vidur….When you go to the Film Institute…please….please….get “Mun ki Jeet” and “Pehli Nazar”. They have it there. The first one was supposed to be very bold film for 1944 and having the first rape scene. The second one was a masterpiece of Motilal.

    • And if you get your hands on ANYTHING there do share :D I have heard it’s not so easy to get them to give up the films in their collection in any form :(

  20. Is there a person who subtitles movies for you!!!!!!! (Iam so jealous) And realllly do write a review (if I get it). I get delighted to see any of my kind of movies with subtitles (that usually never happens :( ) So let’s see!

    • Well for me and anybody else here who wants them :) It is truly a blessing, there are just so many worthy films not being subtitled or treated very well by the likes of fIENDS etc.

  21. Wah, wah! So happy you have writting about this actor! I have been curious about him ever since you first mentioned the man.

    PS: I do give FRIENDS credit for actually releasing some very obscure titles…but they must do more, and on DVD rather then only VCD! (we need to get a writing campaign going).

    • I can’t give them much credit when so many of their “releases” are unwatchable. Many of their films I won’t even download for FREE, the quality is so bad.

      But Chandramohan is worth searching out :)

  22. This is a great post. Thank you so much for sharing. It was a great read.

  23. Can u advise me as to where i can find Amrit Manthan

  24. I just watched Roti! And he’s amazing! Such a great presence!

  25. It is said that Chandramohan Watal, then an influential conservative Kashmiri Pandit in films, opposed the entry of a Kashmiri community girl in films and fought tooth and nail to get her to leave her film career.

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