indian cinema heritage foundation

Rajkumar Kohli


Producer and director Rajkumar Kohli is known for successful films such as Dulla Bhatti  (1966), Nagin (1976), Jaani Dushman (1979), Naukar Biwi Ka (1983), and Raaj Tilak (1984). Starting off producing Hindi as well as Punjabi films in the 1960s such as Pind Di Kurhi (1963), Main Jatti Punjab Di (1964), and Danka (1969), he turned director as well in the following decade, helming films such as Kahani Hum Sab Ki (1973), Nagin (1976), Muqabla (1979), Jaani Dushman (1979), Badle Ki Aag (1982), Jeene Nahi Doonga (1984), Insaniyat Ke Dushman (1987), Inteqam (1988), Saazish (1988), Bees Saal Baad (1988), Pati Patni Aur Tawaif (1990), Virodhi (1992), Aulad Ke Dushman (1993), and Qahar (1997). Working often with stars such as Sunil Dutt, Dharmendra, Jeetendra, Shatrughan Sinha, Reena Roy, and Anita Raj, the latest film he directed was Jaani Dushman: Ek Anokhi Kahani (2002).

Born on 14 September 1930 in Lahore, undivided India, Rajkumar Kohli started off producing films in Punjabi and Hindi. His early productions include the Hindi films Danka (1969), and Gora Aur Kala (1972), as well as the Punjabi films Sapni (1963), and Main Jatti Punjab Di (1964). Directed by Baldev R Jhingan, the cast of Danka included Balwant Bansal, Bela Bose, Hiralal, Nishi, Dara Singh, Saudagar Singh, and Tun Tun. His production Gora Aur Kala, directed by Naresh Kumar, starred Rajendra Kumar in a double role, along with Hema Malini, Rekha, Premnath, Prem Chopra, Madan Puri, and Jagdeep. The film's music was by Laxmikant–Pyarelal. The film was a remake of the 1971 Tamil film Neerum Neruppum, which was based on the 1844 French novella The Corsican Brothers, by Alexandre Dumas. Gora Aur Kala became a hit at the box office.

Kohli’s directorial Nagin had a cast comprising Sunil Dutt, Jeetendra, Feroz Khan, and Sanjay Khan in the lead, with music by Laxmikant-Pyarelal. It was a huge hit of the year. It was later remade in Telugu and Tamil. His 1979 film Jaani Dushman was a blend of horror, thrills, and fantasy with an ensemble cast featuring Sunil Dutt, Sanjeev Kumar, Jeetendra, and Shatrughan Sinha in lead roles with music by Laxmikant-Pyarelal. Again, it was a box-office super-hit. His Raaj Tilak (1984) also created curiosity with its multi-star cast and proved to be successful at the box office. It was headlined by South Indian star Kamala Haasan, veteran Raaj Kumar, Sunil Dutt, Dharmendra, and Hema Malini. The film featured hit music by Kalyanji-Anandji. Kohli’s Naukar Biwi Ka (1983) was a remake of the Pakistani Punjabi film Naukar Wohti Da, which was a box-office hit with special appearances by Rishi Kapoor and Danny Denzongpa

Rajkumari Kohli introduced his son, Armaan Kohli in films with the multi-starrer actioner Virodhi (1992). The film was promoted as multi-starrer villain film, with no less than 11 villains as a part of the film. The film told the story of Inspector Shekhar who gets involved in a drug racket case that involves ministers like Pandey Sahib and his alliances. When Inspector Shekhar tries to bring justice against them, he is killed by Pandey’s goons. It’s then up to his younger brother Raj to avenge his brother's death either by trusting law and justice or by taking the law into his own hands.

Kohli went on to direct his son again in Aulad Ke Dushman (1993) and Qahar (1997). After a break, he returned in 2002 to re-launch his son in a film made in the style of his classic 1970s hits - Nagin and Jaani Dushman. Titled Jaani Dushman: Ek Anokhi Kahani, the film however was panned heavily and failed at the box office. Kohli has not directed any film since. 

Married to actress Nishi, who had featured in some of his films, the couple is parents to son Armaan Kohli, who became an actor, and daughter Gogi Kohli.