indian cinema heritage foundation

Arun Ahuja

  • Real Name: Gulshan Singh Ahuja
  • Born: 26 January, 1918 (Gujranwala, Pakistan)
  • Died: 3 July, 1998
  • Primary Cinema: Hindi
  • Spouse: Nirmala Devi
  • Children: Govinda , Kirti Kumar

Arun Ahuja or Aroon was born Gulshan Singh Ahuja on 26 January 1918 in Gujranwala, present-day Pakistan. After completing school, he enrolled himself in Mughalpura Engineering College in Lahore and graduated from there by 1937. In college, he was good at football and even won the Best Football player award. 

The legendary director Mehboob Khan was auditioning newcomers for his new production. Gulshan too auditioned, and from a field of hundred candidates, he was offered the lead role in Sagar Movietone’s Ek Hi Raasta (1939). In the film, he sang a duet with Maya Banerjee. The film was successful and made him a star overnight. In the film, he used his screen name Arun/Aroon Ahuja that he continued using throughout his career. After Ek Hi Raasta (1939), he did Civil Marriage (1940), Bhole Bhale (1940), and Mehboob Khan’s Aurat (1940). In the next six years, he acted in about 25 films like Beti (1941), Holiday in Bombay (1941), Savera (1942), Return of Toofan Mail (1942), Shankar Parvati (1943), Andhera (1943), Caravan (1944), Amrapali (1945) and many more. From 1945 onwards he became a freelancer.

While filming for Savera, he met Nirmala, his co-star in the film, and fell in love with her. They got married on 5 May 1945. Nirmala stopped working after completing 4 pending films, including Sudhar (1949) where she was paired with her husband Arun. 

Arun went on doing roles in films like Chalis Karod (1945), Khooni (1946), Usha Haran (1949), and Jai Mahalaxmi (1951). His last film was Aulad (1954) directed by Mohan Sehgal and also starring Usha Kiron and Balraj Sahni in lead roles. 

Arun also ventured into producing films and set up his own production company, Arun Productions. He produced two films, Sehra (1948) and Jo Hai Saajan, which could not find a release for unknown reasons. Sehra (1948) was a huge flop and Arun suffered heavy losses. He tried to find his way again as an actor in the films to compensate for the losses. But due to heavy competition with newcomers, work was difficult to come by. Unfortunately, in 1962, he had to sell all his property and moved from Bandra to Virar with his family. In 1963 his youngest son Govind was born, who later became the famous actor Govinda. Arun had three daughters and two sons, actor and producer Kirti Kumar and Govinda

Soon after this, his health started deteriorating. To help the family financially, Nirmala decided to revive her singing career. Music composer A R Qureshi helped her arranging stage programmes in Calcutta. Nirmala was welcomed back with fanfare and soon flooded with offers. She became a Thumri singer. Their family’s financial situation improved when Govinda also started working in the films. The entire family moved to Juhu however Arun decided to stay in Virar.  

Arun lived a reclusive life after leaving the film industry and died on 3 July 1998 at the age of 81, two years after his wife Nirmala’s death on 15 June 1996.