indian cinema heritage foundation

Nagendra Majumder

  • Born: 1894 (Baroda, Gujarat, British India)
  • Primary Cinema: Hindi
  • Spouse: Ninu Majumdar

Prolific director, writer, and actor, Nagendra Majumder was active in the early silent and talkie era of cinema. Born in 1894 and educated in Baroda, Gujarat, British India, he was employed as a policeman in Baroda. From 1923 to 1925, he became involved in the amateur theatre and directed Gujarati plays. He made his film debut at Laxmi, acting in R S Choudhury’s Asha (1926). He went on to join Royal Art Studio as director. He directed Indulal Yagnik productions such as Kalino Ikko (1930) and Rasili Rani (1930), worked at Imperial directing Qatil Kathiyani (1928), at the Kaiser-e-Hind production house and at Sharda Studio. His filmography includes several love stories made at Ranjit with the studio’s leading stars E Bilimoria and Madhuri. In sound films, he made his mark primarily in the stunt genre, adapting adventures belonging to the Arabian Nights-variety. He also directed Marathi films such as the historical Shatakarta Shivaji (1934). He set up Pratima Pics (1933) and Honey Talkies (1934). Some of the films he is known for include Albelo Sawar (1930), Khubsoorat Khawasan (1932), and Matribhumi (1932). During the course of his career spanning the 1920s to the 1940s, he directed approximately 36 films including Aaj Ka Aladdin (1935), Rangilo Rajput (1932), and Laheri Lutera (1937). He is also credited with penning the story and screenplay of films such as Diwan Bhamansha/ Lion of Mewar (1926), Vasavdatta (1928), Jagmagati Jawani (1930), Bahurupi Bazar (1932), and K B Athavale’s Sant Tukaram (1932) at Sharda Movietone. Illness compelled him to retire from filmmaking. He is the father of music composer Ninu Majumdar. 

Among the earliest films he directed was Yashodevi (1925) a historical starring Zubeida, Madanrai Vakil and Zillu. It was produced by Royal Art Studio. Other early directorials of his include Pani Ma Aag (1926), and the short Sweet Adversity (1926). 

In 1926, he scripted the Ardeshir Irani-founded Imperial Film Company’s Lion of Mewar. It was directed by Mohan Dayaram Bhavnani, and featured Jilloo, Putli, Madanrai Vakil, and Elizer in the primary cast. It was based on the life of the noted general, minister and close aide of Maharana Pratap Singh, who provided the financial support to Maharana Pratap to restore his army and reclaim much of his lost territory.

He would go on to simultaneously make his mark as a successful writer, also directing several films that he had scripted. In 1928, he wrote and directed Imperial’s Punarlagan Ni Patni/ Second Wife (1928), starring Mehtab, Yusuf and Gangu for the Kaiser-E-Hind Film Company. A social genre film, it was followed by his Vasavdatta (1928), a classical costume drama starring Putli, Jani Babu and Athavle. 

In 1930, he scripted and directed Albelo Sawar/ Beloved Rogue for the Ranjit Film Company. The cast was headed by Putli and Eddie Billimoria. The same year, he wrote and directed Jagmagati Jawani (1930) for the Chandrika Film Company, Bombay. It starred Paidi Jairaj, Madhav Kale, Roshanara and Dixit. The same year, he also scripted and directed Young India Pictures’ social genre film Kalino Ikko/ The Ace of Spades (1930) starring Madhuri, Madhav Kale and Dixit. 

In 1932, he scripted and directed Bahurupi Bazar/ Vanity Fair starring Panna, Madhav Kale and Kamla for the Sharda Film Company. 

Khubsoorat Khawasan/ Sweet Heart (1932) was the name of the comedy film that he wrote and directed for Sharda Film Company, starring Ghanshyam. P Jairaj, and Madhav Kale. 

The same year, he also wrote and directed Young India Pictures’ costume drama Matribhumi/ My Hero (1932) starring P Jairaj, Madhuri and Gidwani. 

His directorials include Jayant (1929), Young India Pictures’ Rasili Rani (1933), Diwano Diwana (1931), Ranjit Films’ Govalan (1931), Kashmir Nu Gulab (1931), Premi Pankhida (1931), Ras Vilas (1932), Mirza Sahiban (1933), Patit Pawan (1933), Shree Sharda’s Kala Wagh (1934), Mera Iman (1934), Shakakarta Shivaji (1934), Rangila Nawab (1935), Kimiagar (1935), Laheri Lutera (1937), Swadesh Sewa (1946), and Talwarwala (1946). 

Among the actors and actresses he worked with, are Zubedia, Zillu, Madanrai Vakil, Nurjehan, Harishchandra Bali, M Udwadia, P Jairaj, Madhav Kale, Madhuri, Gidwani, Putli, Eddie Billimoria, Jani Babu, Krishna Athavale, Roshanara, Gohar Karnataki, Mohini, Gohar Jan, Azoorie, and Master Dinkar.