indian cinema heritage foundation

Kundan Malik

  • Born: 8 August, 1932 (Sargodha, Undivided India)
  • Died: 25 November, 2007 (Bombay)
  • Primary Cinema: Hindi
  • First film: Kasturi (1954)

Kundan Mallik was a dignified and competent actor who featured in approximately 60 Hindi films in the course of his career, including Anokhi Raat (1968), Ajnabee (1974), and Rocky Mera Naam (1973). Born on 8 August, 1932 in Sargodha, into an affluent family, he was smitten by films and acting from a young age. Managing to save some money, he would run away from school to watch films starring his favourite stars. Filled with dreams of this magical world, he even ran away from home at a young age to pursue his passion—only to be found by a relative, and returned to his parents, including a particularly irate father! 

His attraction to films continued, despite verbal and physical beatings, and he would write fan mail to his favourite actors, even sending his photographs to them. The time he actually received a reply from leading actor Motilal, his happiness knew no bounds. When his family shifted from Sarghoda to Lucknow, Kundan had the opportunity to occasionally act in the local Ram Leela stage performances. When his father suffered a paralytic stroke, Kundan, being the eldest in the family, moved to Bombay to give films a shot and attempt to earn a livelihood. 

He got his first break bagging a role in Kasturi (1954), which starred Sajjan and Nimmi. He was credited as Nakul Mallik in the film, after he adopted the fresh screen name. At the premiere of the film he met his idol, Motilal in the flesh, who actually remembered him from all the fan mail and photos he had sent him, and gave him his blessing! Reverting to his original name, Kundan went on to appear in a slew of films such as Baarish (1957), Post Box 999 (1958), Howrah Bridge (1958), Insaan Jaag Utha (1959), Jaali Note (1960), Manzil (1960), Naughty Boy (1962), Isi Ka Naam Duniya Hai (1962), and Aadhi Raat Ke Baad (1965), among others. He even acted in an English film called Nine Hours To Rama (1963) directed by Mark Robson, which followed a fictionalised Nathuram Godse in the hours before he assassinated Indian Independence leader, Mahatma Gandhi, and the attempts of the police to prevent the murder. 

With Kundan establishing himself in the film industry, he invited his mother—his father had since passed away—and his siblings to the city. Fact remains, that despite no dearth of film offers and in spite of his appreciable performances, Kundan was unable to scale the heights of stardom. It is believed that his inherent self-respect and inability to sweet-talk and network for purposes of securing work, was a deterrent in his procuring projects. It is said that he considered it below his dignity to even ask his good friend Mehmood for films, despite the fact that the two were inseparable during Mehmood’s struggling days. Nonetheless, Kundan appeared in several films in the years that followed such as Pagla Kahin Ka (1970), Kati Patang (1970), Sharmeelee (1971), Do Yaar (1972), Amar Prem (1972), Shankar Shambhu (1976), Khoon Aur Paani (1981), Balam Pardesiya (Bhojpuri), and Yaarana (1981). His dialogue from the latter Amitabh Bachchan-starrer ‘Kachcha Papad Pakka Papad’ was a highlight of the film. 

Kundan Malik had forged firm friendships in the industry with personalities such as Ram Mohan, Subhiraj, director Chand, Madan Puri, Chandrashekhar and Mehmood—friends who stood by him and whom he stood by, over the years.

Retiring from films while he was still active, Kundan Malik passed away on 25 November, 2007 at the age of 75.