indian cinema heritage foundation

B J Patel


Active in Gujarati and Hindi cinema, writer-director B J Patel is particularly known for his work in the action-adventure genre space in films. Starting off in the 1950s, he directed approximately 18 films, his earliest being Rifle Girl (1958), Miss Toofan Mail (1958), and Hunterwali (1959). His notable films include Hawa Mahal (1962), Lady Killer (1968) and Rustom-E-Baghdad (1963). He is also credited with writing Rocket Tarzan (1963), Rajdhani Express (1972), and Awara Ladki (1975). Gujarati films which he directed include Sati Sorath (1978), Hiral Hamir (1979), Rudo Rabari (1980), and Jai Bhawani (1982).

His debut directorial Rifle Girl, released in 1958, was an actioner revolving around a brave hill girl Soona, who saves the life of a young prince, tracing down the actual king and restoring to him his rights, thwarting the villainous attempts of the king’s brother, Sher Singh. Starring Nilofer, Mehru, Samar Roy, Habib, Rajan Kapoor and others, the film was produced by Dhanpatrai under the banner of People Pictures, Bombay.

His 1959 directorial Miss Hunterwali, also in the action genre, depicted the lead character Hunterwali, who appears when the victims Kishore and Charlie are in trouble, to help them out of their predicament. She is determined to bring the evil Blacknight and his gang to book, and restore mental happiness to Rai Shaib Chunnilal. It starred Babu, Habib, and Jeetbala in the lead roles. 

Khiladi, his directorial of 1961, is an action-crime thriller and romantic family drama revolving around the life of Khiladi (played by Ranjan). He is a mighty swordsman and a good companion of his friend, a prince, who is also a fearless and kind person. Khiladi even sacrifices his love - Princess Asha (Jabeen Jalil) for the sake of the Prince. However, things get complicated when the Prince's evil cousin Mansingh (played by Rajan), desires Asha for his wife and wants to kill the Prince for the throne. 

Hawa Mahal (1962), starring Bela Bose, Helen, Jeevan, and Murad, saw him direct a tale of two sisters, Neelampari and Champakali, living in Patal Lok, who are given the task of gathering 100 souls. However, Champakali falls in love with a human being. This enrages Neelampari who then banishes Champakali from the kingdom.

Rustom-E-Baghdad, his 1963 directorial, was set in times of Mughal rule in the Persian Gulf in Baghdad, when the Badshah is killed by his very own brother, his wife put to death, and their new-born child is to be captured and killed by none other than his uncle. However, Rustom-E-Baghdad, who has sworn to protect the Badshah and his family, abducts the child, and flees from the kingdom with the new Badshah's soldiers hot on his trail. Mortally wounded on his death-bed, the Rustom asks his son, Dara, to take care of the young prince and ensure that he comes to no harm. Dara promises and watches sadly as his father passes away. Now it is Dara's turn to be on the run along with the young prince in his arms. The Badshah announces a hefty reward of 5000 ashrafis to the one who brings in Dara and the young prince dead or alive. The question remains, how long will Dara continue to elude the Badshah, his soldiers, as well as greedy bounty hunters, who will not rest until they have Dara and the young prince killed, and their lifeless bodies brought before the Badshah. The cast of the film comprised Dara Singh Randhawa, Chandrashekhar Vaidya, Vijaya Choudhury, and Shakeela Banoo Bhopali

Among the other films Patel directed over the decades include Adventures of Robin Hood and Bandits (1965), the crime thriller Lady Killer (1968), Do Thug (1970), Rajdhani Express (1972), Awara Ladki (1975), and Haseena Haathiwali (1994).