Magazine advertisement for the 1947 stunt film BHATAKTI MAINA starring newcomer Suraiya Zulfi, who became Suriaya Shamshi for the release of this film.

Born in 1919, Suraiya Zulfi/Shamshi (rn: Jamila Begum) had taken on small roles in films (billed simply as Suraiya, and not to be confused with the soon to be A-list star of the same name) before trying her hand at producing a “magic” picture titled KANGOO (1946) for R.S. Productions.

She was again bitten by the acting bug, and this time set her sights on playing the heroine. She must have found an antidote, however, as BHATAKTI MAINA appears to be both her debut and swan song as a leading lady.

The film also starred stunt film stalwarts Sardar Mansoor and (Atish) Sayani of Wadia Brothers fame.

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Chandra Art’s CRIMINAL (1939) starring Chandrarao Kadam, Hansa Wadkar, Bhagwan, and Vasant Pehalwan, is an early directorial effort by Bhagwan who, as well as becoming a top film comedian, had a good run directing stunt-films and comedies though the 1940s and 50s.

Chandra Art was a production company run by actor/director Chandrarao Kadam who made a number of films in the 1930s under that banner, several of which starred future character actress Lalita Pawar back when she was playing stunt roles.

Indra Movietone was a fly-by-night studio that made just a few stunt films in the late 1930s. IMPERIAL MAIL, starring the popular hero Baburao Pahelwan, was one of them.

It seems the film went through some cast changes once production started, as the film’s booklet indicates that Pushpa Rani was replaced by Gulzar, while direction was handed over to S.Mirza (R.N. Vaidya is listed with the task of “Supervision”).

Others in the cast include Gulab, Baby Noor Jahan, Baby Ramesh, and Shajahan.

As a bonus, here is a still showing a domestic side of the plot.

Magazine advertisement for the A.R. Kardar’s silent adventure film SAFDAR JUNG (1930) starring Hiralal, Miss Mumtaz, and S.F. Shah.

Although the majority of Indian films from the silent era are lost or missing, we can still get a feel for them through old movie magazines. Below are a handful of film stills published in the March 1930 issue of The Movie Show which covered both Indian and “foreign” films.

Royal Pictures Corporation released EMPEROR ASHOKA in 1928. It starred Udwadia, Zubeida, and Jillo.

DIVINE DOWRY (1929) [aka DEHAN DAN] Ranjit Movietone
Putli and Inamdar in DIVINE DOWRY (1929) – Ranjit Movietone

Sagar Movietone’s 1930 adventure film CONQUEROR (aka VEER NA VER) starred popular action star Master Vithal.

Vaze and Nurjehan in Kohinoor Film Company’s 1930 release GULENAR (or GUL-E-NAR)

Baburao Apte and Miss Heera in Kohinoor Film Company’s GAMBLER (1930) aka JUGAL JUGARI.

Zebunissa and Nandram in WRONGED WIFE (1930) [aka RAJPUT RAMANI] Sharda Films

Gohar and D. Billimoria in MY DARLING (1930) [aka DIWANI DILAR] from Ranjit Movietone

Sagar Movietone’s 1930 thriller DEV PECH [aka THE WEB] featuring Master Vithal and Gohar Jr.

Sulochana and Jal Merchant in FATHER INDIA (1930) from Imperial Film Company

LANKA DAHAN [aka RAM DOOTA] was a mythological produced by General Pictures Corporation, a film company based in Madras. The film starred T.S. Mani, Devika, and M.V. Raju.

Zebunissa delivers a dramatic pose in this still from Sharda Film Company’s THE WRONGED WIFE (1930) aka RAJPUT RAMANI

Enakshi Rama Rau and J.K. Nanda in a scene from Indian Art Productions’ VASANTSENA (1930) directed by M.D. Bhavnani

Another fun photo caption courtesy of Filmindia magazine. From DIWALI (1940) starring Motilal and Madhuri.

Magazine advertisement for the (possibly unreleased) Marvel Production DIAMOND KING featuring Baburao Pahelwan and Shanta Patel.

Advertisement for the 1921 mythological NALA DAMAYANTI starring Patience Cooper, Keki Adajani, Signor Eugenio De Liguoro, and Khurshid Billimoria.

Namak (Salt)

Azad Pictures (1947)

Director: Balwant B. Dve

Producer: S.H. Tharani

Music: Shyambabu Pathak, Naresh Chandra

Choreography: D. Babulal

Cast: Dilawar, Dulari, Bhim, Habib, Neelam, Sharda, Chandrashekhar, Sugandha.

Plot: In this “chapati western” (as it was referred to in FilmIndia magazine) flint-hearted Sher (Dilawar) is a former bandit who is now trying to live an honest life. He has taken up employment at a factory in his effort to become a useful citizen although the vicious social system of the town will not let him forget he was once a criminal.

One day he hears his co-worker Mr. Smith reading a letter from his wife. Smith is overjoyed to find that his family, who he’d been forced to leave behind when he went off in search of work, would be arriving in a week’s time to reunite with him.

Dulari in NAMAK

Before Smith’s dream can become a reality, however, the factory is destroyed in a great explosion! And the crumbling debris claims as one of its victims, Mr. Smith, who with his dying words makes Sher promise to take care of his wife and two children, Gogo and Sofi (Dulari) when they arrive.

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