indian cinema heritage foundation

Pandit Indra

  • Real Name: Indar Chand Ullas Chand Dadhich
  • Born: 1905 (Kolkata)
  • Died: 1968 (Mumbai)
  • Primary Cinema: Hindi
  • First film: Sati Mahananda (1933)
  • Last film: Sheikh Chilli (1956)

Brought to Mumbai by chance, once Pandit Indra entered the film world, it embraced him with both arms, keeping in Mumbai for the rest of his life. Over a career spanning four decades, Pandit Indra took on the various roles: he was a lyricist and a dialogue writer, and often wrote stories and screenplays for films as well. 
Born in 1905 in Kolkata, Pandit Indra was named Indra Chandra Dadhich at birth. He belonged to a family of businessmen who travelled from Churu, Rajasthan for work to Calcutta, and settled there. A bright student, Pandit Indra achieved the first rank when he passed his matriculation for which he was presented with a gold medal by Mahatma Gandhi. His father met an untimely demise when he was only 14 years old, after which he continued his studies in Calcutta for a few years. It was around this time that he developed a habit of writing down anything that occurred to him. 
Even at this early stage, his writing demonstrated great potential, and his family encouraged him to keep at it. Though Indra lacked interest in the family business, he was at a loss when it came to his livelihood. He could not find a way to reconcile his passion for writing with the demands for a stable sustenance, but found a way out when his uncle, a lawyer in Mumbai, called him to the city in 1928. When Indra moved to Mumbai, he was introduced to the writer Mohan Lal and the filmmaker Baburao Patel by his uncle. Impressed with his talent, both these stalwarts of Indian cinema encouraged him to keep writing as well. 
For some time to come, Indra continued to be mentored by Mohan Lal and Baburao, showing them everything he wrote. Mohan Lal suggested he try his hand at writing a script for a play, and the prolific Indra soon presented him with his first play, Samajik Kranti, in the Rajasthani language or Marubhasha. When produced in Mumbai and Calcutta, this first attempt proved to be popular among many in both the cities. 
He continued to write a few plays following his first, and when Baburao Patel asked him to work with him on films, he readily agreed. Indra proceeded to write the Hindi scripts for Baburao Patel’s Sati Mahananda (1933), Maharani (1934) and Pardesi Saiyan (1935). With his work speaking for itself in these ventures, Indra soon started receiving offers to work with other filmmakers. Though he was making his mark as a screenplay writer, it was with his lyrics that he became beloved to all. His lyrics contributed greatly to the success of films like Bambai Ki Sair (1941), Chandan (1941), Raj Nartaki (1941), Shobha (1942), Adab Arz (1943), Bansari (1943), Usha Haran (1949) and Man Ka Meet (1950). 
In 1948, Indra became associated with the story department of Gemini Studios in Madras. While here, he wrote the songs and dialogues for landmark films like Chandralekha (1948) and Mangala (1950). 
Deeply attached to his mother tongue, Indra founded his own studio titled Kamal Kala Kendra in the sixties, a banner under which he made a number of films in Marubhasha, like Gopichand Bhartari (1965). During this time, he withdrew from working extensively in Hindi cinema. Pandit Indra passed away in 1968.