Among the early stars of Bengali cinema, Dhiraj Bhattacharya is an exception - in that he did not arrive from the theatre scene. Instead he was initially employed as a policeman. Later, through his roles in films like Bangalee (1936) he developed a formidable reputaion as an actor.
Born in 1905 in Jessore, Dhiraj Bhattacharya started off studying literature in Ashutosh College. He worked for a while as a policeman before joining Madan Theatres as an actor. His first film was the Jyotish Bannerjee directorial Sati Lakshmi (1925). He later acted in films like Giribala (1930), Kal Parinaya (1930), Jamuna Puliney (1933), Chand Saudagar (1934), Seeta (1934), and Kanthahaar (1935). But his big breakthrough came when he acted in Charu Roy's landmark realist drama Bangalee. In the meantime, he had started acting onstage, appearing in plays like Sindhu Gaurab (1932) and Charitraheen (1935). He went on to have a stellar career in films, including a turn as director in Joyar Bhanta (1936). A versatile actor, he was equally at ease playing romanctic as well as villainous roles. Some of his significant later films were directed by the celebrated writer Premendra Mitra like Samadhan (1943), Bideshini (1944), Kalo Chaya (1948), Kuasha (1949), Kanaktala Light Railway (1950), Moyla Kagaj (1954) and Dakinir Char (1955). He also acted in Adarsha Hindu Hotel and Neelachaley Mahaprabhu (both 1957). His autobiography was published in 1956, detailing both his life as a police officer and as a film actor.
The veteran actor passed away in 1959.