indian cinema heritage foundation

Ranjodh Thakur


Cinematographer Ranjodh Thakur, who was active in the 1950s and 1960s Hindi cinema, is known for films such as Teen Sardar (1965), Darasingh: Ironman (1964), Shart (1969), and Shama (1961). He worked mainly with director Lekhraj Bhakri on several films. 

Among the early films he cinematographed was the family drama Aulad (1954), directed by Mohan Segal, and starring Nirupa Roy, Balraj Sahni, Usha Kiran, Lalita Kumari and Ramesh Kapur. The film brought a social slant to the controversial issue of family limitations. A review in the April 1954 issue of Filmfare magazine, praised Thakur for his cinematography, as it noted, “The production values are excellent, from the sets and the décor to the atmosphere and the photography.” 

The following year, he cinematographed the fantasy film Son of Alibaba (1955). Directed by Majnu and written by Niranjan, it starred Mahipal, Chitra and Chandrashekhar Vaidya

In 1958, he served as the DoP of Sahara. A family drama, it was directed by Lekhraj Bhakri, and starred Meena Kumari, M Rajan and Kuldip Kaur. Meena Kumari received a Filmfare nomination for best actress for her performance, the only nomination for the film. 

The same year, he also cinematographed Panchayat (1958), a family drama film written by Lekhraj Bhakri and starring Raaj Kumar, Pandari Bai, and Shyama

Shama, which he cinematographed in 1961, was a romantic drama directed by Lekhraj Bhakri. Starring Nimmi, Vijay Dutt, and M Kumar, the plot revolved around a woman who experiences heartbreak when she ends up arranging the marriage of the poet whom she secretly loves. 

In 1962, he cinematographed the crime drama Maa Beta. Directed by Lekhraj Bhakri, it starred Manoj Kumar, Ameeta and Vijay Dutt. It told the tale of Ganga and his wife, Rameshwari, who are dependent on his elder brother Bishan and are abused and asked to leave. Working hard, they manage to set up their own business, and soon become wealthy enough to even support Bishan and his wife. Then, a pregnant Rameshwari receives news that her husband has been killed. She goes on to give birth to a boy, who goes missing. The plot explores if she will ever be reunited with her son.

Darasingh: Ironman, the action adventure drama film he cinematographed in 1964, was directed by Kedar Kapoor. Starring Dara Singh Randhawa, Nishi Kohli and Jeevan Dhar, it revolved around a poor woodcutter with superhuman strength who comes to the aid of a princess, and the subsequent twists and turns that ensue.

The following year, he cinematographed Teen Sardar (1965), an action adventure drama directed by Radhakant. It starred Sardar Singh Randhawa, Azaad Irani and Parveen Choudhary. It followed the adventures of muscle-man Sherdil, who is told by his mentor that he must avenge his father's death by overthrowing the oppressive and tyrannical Wazir of Husnabad, Suleiman. Sherdil sets off to do so and is assisted by Feroz, another muscle-man. They find their way to Husnabad but things go awry as they end up prisoner to Suleiman, who has also imprisoned Malika-e-Alam, as well as allegedly killed her daughter Shehzadi Nilofer.

Shaheed (1965), the historical drama which he cinematographed, was directed by S Ram Sharma. Starring Manoj Kumar, Kamini Kaushal, Nirupa Roy and Anand Kumar, it presented the inspirational biography of one of India's greatest patriots, Sardar Bhagat Singh. The film was the first of Manoj Kumar's series of patriotic films, followed by films like Upkar (1967), Purab Aur Paschim (1970), and Kranti (1981). The film became a box-office success, and also won acclaim at the 13th National Film awards, winning the award for best feature film in Hindi, the Nargis Dutt award for best feature film on national integration and the award for best screenplay.  Decades later, the film was screened retrospectively on 15 August 2016 at the Independence Day film festival, jointly presented by the Indian directorate of film festivals and ministry of defense. 

In 1969, he cinematographed the mystery thriller Shart, directed by Kewal Misra. Starring Sanjay Khan, Mumtaz Askari, and Kumud Chuggani, the intriguing plot revolved around Raj, who likes to gamble and place multiple bets. He befriends an attractive woman, Pinky, but confusion follows as he goes on to spot her in numerous bewildering scenarios, including at her funeral, in a photograph along with his sweetheart Sapna, and even hanging lifeless from the ceiling. The resultant mystery threatens his very own existence.

Baazigar, the adventure comedy he cinematographed in 1972, was directed by Karunesh Thakur. It starred Vijayalalitha, Roopesh Kumar and Bindu Desai