indian cinema heritage foundation

Karan Dewan

  • Born: 06 November 1917 (Lahore)
  • Died: 02 August 1979 (Mumbai)
  • Primary Cinema: Hindi

Born on 6 November 1917 in Gujranwala district in pre-independence Punjab, Karan Dewan started his career as an actor in Punjabi-language films. He went on to have a prolific career, starring in 75 films, of which a third were so successful that they achieved silver jubilees. 

Made in Kolkata, the 1939 film Puran Bhagat in Punjabi was Karan Dewan’s first foray into film acting. Karan was still a student at the time, and when he completed the shooting for the film, he returned to Lahore to continue his studies. Karan’s elder brother, Jaimini Dewan, was already an established name in Mumbai, where he was just beginning to turn his attention to directing films. When he had barely completed his Bachelors, Karan’s eye fell on an advertisement sent out by Bombay Talkies calling for new actors. He sent in his application and got selected, only to be disappointed when he realized he had been employed not as an actor, but in the casting department scouting for new talents. 

Within a short time, Karan resigned from his job at Bombay Talkies, and started receiving offers to work as an actor. He acted alomgside Suraiya in Tamanna (1942) and Sulochana Chaterji in Shobha in the same year. In 1943, he was cast as Nalini Jaywant’s hero in Adab Arz (1943). From 1944-1945, he acted in films like Gaali, Rattan, Zeenat and Bhai Jaan. Of these, the A.R. Kardar production Rattan went on to became a huge hit. On the sets of Gaali, Karan met and struck up a close bond with the Marathi actress Manju, who would eventually become his wife. This was not all he earned during this winning streak: Rattan enjoyed a diamond jubilee, while Zeenat and Bhai Jaan were silver jubilees, establishing Karan as a jubilee star of his time. In his film career spanning 37 years, Karan Dewan appeared in nearly 100 films. He was cast as the lead in 75 of these. 

However, after a very successful run, his popularity began to drop, and he started accepting roles as a character actor. In this capacity, he appeared in a number of films: Do Dil (1947), Chhoti Bhabhi (1950), Dahej (1950), Pardes (1950), Ek Nazar (1951), Teen Batti Char Rasta (1953), Bahu (1955), Gumrah (1963), Daag: A Poem of Love (1973) and Anuraag (1972). 

Apart from his prolific career as an actor, Karan Dewan was also the production executive for some of the features released under the banners of B.R. Films and Yashraj Films. The 1979 films Atmaram and Bagula Bhagat were among the last few films in which Karan appeared as an actor. At the end of a long, successful career in films, Karan Dewan passed away on 2 August, 1979. 

works often with