indian cinema heritage foundation

Krishan Chandar

  • Born: 26/11/1914 (Bharatpur, Rajasthan)
  • Died: 08/03/1977 (Mumbai)
  • Primary Cinema: Hindi
  • Spouse: Salma Siddiqui

Krishan Chandar, a well-known figure in the Indian literary scene, was a writer who worked in the Indian film industry for a couple of decades. A part of the Progressive Writers Movement, Krishan Chandar has around fifty published books to his credit. About fifteen of them are novels, three are plays and the rest are short-story collections. Some of his works include Jamun Ka Peid, Ek Aurat Hazar Deewaney, Barf Ke Phool, Chandi Ka Ghao, Sone Ka Sansaar, and Aadha Raasta. Throughout his career, he was also known for writing dialogues for films like Ram Bharose (1977), Manchali (1973), Do Chor (1972), Sharafat (1970), Mamta (1966), and many others. However, identifying his career solely based on his works in the film industry does not provide justice to the talent and the unique personality Krishan Chandar was.

Born on November 26, 1914 in Bharatpur, Rajasthan Krishan Chandar spent most of his early years in Poonch, Kashmir where his father was a doctor in the state service. However, his wife Salma Siddiqui mentioned that Krishan was born in Kashmir as suggested by Krishan’s mother but there is no factual document to corroborate this so this fact remains disputed even today. After matriculation in Poonch in 1929, he moved to Lahore where his educational career (Intermediate in Science, BA with Economics as one of the subjects) came to a close in 1937 with a law degree. 

His writing career began when he was studying law and the foundation of his interest in politics was laid when, still in his teens, he was drawn into the freedom struggle movement of Sardar Bhagat Singh whom he remembers having met a few times in Lahore. The influence of Bhagat Singh's band of patriots upon him must have been strong for it made him run away from home and visit Calcutta where he spent three most adventurous months learning to play hide-and-seek with the authorities and the use of fire-arms from his comrades. 

After finishing his education, he first taught English for six months in a girls' college in Lahore and then towards the end of 1939 he joined the All India Radio, Lahore, as a programme assistant. He remained in the radio job for around three years, parts of which he spent in Delhi and Lucknow. He was in Lucknow when, sometime in 1942, Producer-director W Z Ahmed, after reading a book of his, trunk-called him from Poona inviting him to join the Shalimar Studios as a writer. Persuaded by the money that he was offered for the job, Krishan Chandar quit the All India Radio and landed in Poona to start work on Man Ki Jeet (1944) his first film. His short story Annadata was adapted for screen by K A Abbas in the form of popular social Dharti Ke Lal (1946).

In films, his work has largely been confined to dialogue writing. When he comes on the scene during the making of a film, the theme and the plot are already there, the characters have been fixed and their actions and sentiments already defined. His job is only to put into the characters' mouths the words that will best express their feelings. He has, to be sure, written more than a dozen films including Tamasha (1952), Ek Do Teen (1953), Aji Bas Shukriya (1958) and Hanste Ansoo (1950). In two of his films, namely, Sarai Ke Bahar (1947) and Dil Ki Awaz (1948), besides wielding the pen, he also tried his hand at direction. And he also wrote the story of the successful six-reeler children's film Bapu Ne Kaha Tha (1962). His last film as a script writer was Chambal Ki Rani (1979).

His literary career includes several best-selling novels and plays. One of his most popular works is Ek Gadhe Ki Atma-Katha, a socio-political satire with a talking donkey as a hero, which in its Hindi pocket-book edition, has become a best-seller, having sold, according to Krishan Chandar, some sixty thousand copies and expected to reach the one lakh mark – a rare success in the Hindi publishing world. His other popular novels include Bavan Patte (a narrative against the background of the Bombay film industry), Shikast, Dadar Pul Ke Bachche (a tongue-in-cheek fantasy involving an incarnated God who makes a first-hand study of the living conditions of Bombay's slum children), Ek Violin Samundar Ke Kinare and Barf Aur Phool. His first collection of short stories "Tilasme-Khayal," was published in Lahore in 1938-39. His second volume of short stories, "Nazare,'' came out a year later. Sapnon Ka Qaidi and Din Daulat Aur Duniya are only two of his numerous popular short-story collections. Darwaze Khol Do, a play he wrote on the theme of national integration, has been broadcasted by the All India Radio in all the fourteen recognised languages of India. 

Like many others, Krishan Chandar is a self-proclaimed "leftist writer" whose work is invariably infused with the socialist ideology he believes in. But unlike many other leftist writers, he is a most widely read author both at home and abroad. Outside the country, he is read chiefly, of course, in the Eastern European countries, but there his popularity is rather phenomenal. No fewer than 20 of his titles have been translated into the Russian language, which probably makes him, among contemporary Indian writers, the best known in the Soviet Union. He has five translated titles in Polish, five in Czech, five in Slovak, four in Hungarian, three in Chinese and one in German. Translations of his works have also been made. at least nominally, in Italy, Japan and Korea. 

Krishan Chandar married Salma Siddiqui, daughter of acclaimed Urdu satirist and academic Rasheed Ahmed Siddiqui. According to an interview given by Salma to Tahir Masood, their nikah took place in Nainital on July 7, 1961. Krishan Chandar has 3 children, two daughters and one son, from his first wife Vidyawati Chopra.

Krishan Chandar died on 8 March, 1977 while working on his desk in Mumbai. A Fountain Park in Poonch City of Jammu and Kashmir has been renamed to Krishan Chandar Park, Poonch in his memory. His statue has also been erected in the middle of the garden. 


Behind The Screen, Krishan Chandar Writer. Filmfare February 7, 1964

Salma Siddiqui Interview -