A.R. Kardar

Memories – A.R. Kardar

Walking down memory lane, recalling the best years of my life with my father, makes me nostalgic and I find it difficult to put thoughts on to paper. He was the most wonderful and caring father anyone could ever have. My mother Mrs. Akhtar Sultana Kardar was his life-long inspiration. They were very happily married in Lahore (Pakistan), a love marriage. A fairy tale kind of romance really. As I remember my mother talking of how she fell in love with my father, it brings tears to my eyes. Those days there was the pardah system, and my mother said she stayed in the same area as my father. She used to see him riding down the lane and she would run to the window unobserved and peep from behind the curtain just to watch my father riding past. She said he had such regal bearing and held himself so upright on the horse, it was a sight worth watching and waiting for. And before you knew it, they were married and lived happily ever after.

Hafiz Kardar (A.H. Kardar) Pakistan’s famous cricketer was my father’s step brother. My father came to India in 1930 permanently, much against the wishes of my grandfather who wanted him to become an engineer. When he came here, he first lived in Calcutta (1930); and joined the East India Film Company, where he made about 7 films for them. He lived in Calcutta for 6-7 years. Then the Company closed down in ’37 and my father came to Bombay and joined Film City (in Tardeo) for 3 years. With them he made only one film Baaghban. It won the Gohar Gold Medal starring Vimla Kumari, Naadrekar and Sitara Devi.

Then my father joined Ranjeet Movietone towards the end of ’37. He made only 3 movies with them after which he joined Circo Productions Ltd., for a year only. In ’39 (end) when Circo Productions went into liquidation, my father bought out the Company and started Kardar Productions. In the same compound, he started Kardar Studios. And in ’40 my father started making movies under the Kardar Productions banner.

He introduced such greats into the Film Industry such as Naushad, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Suraiya… Even Mohammad Rafi got his first hit from the song, ‘Suhani raat dhal chuki’ — from my father’s film Dulari. He also started the Kardar-Kolynos Contest, to find new talent. Through this contest he discovered and introduced to the industry, Chand Usmani and Mahendra Kapoor.

He made all sorts of films – historicals, socials, costume dramas, and great family entertainers. The music was always good in every film of his. In fact, they are hummed all over the country till today. His famous hits were ‘Suhani raat dhal chuki’ from Dulari, ‘Gham Diye Mustaqil’ sung by K.L. Saigal from Shahjahan ‘Afsana likh rahi hoon’ sung by Uma Devi alias Tun Tun. And all the songs from his films like Dastaan, Jaadoo, Yasmin and Dard.

He was excellent in all the departments of film making, from scripting down to editing. He was an “A” class painter, as well as an superb photographer. His collection of cameras and lenses was remarkable. He was so disciplined and so well informed. He was always talked of with great respect and was called ‘Mianji’ by the old timers.

Kardar Studios was one of the best equipped studios in those days and the first to have air-conditioned make up rooms. He was an artist-director, and made all his films with almost German precision. He was very precise and knew exactly what he wanted out of the artistes and how to get it out of them. Movies in those days were completed in 2 or 3 months, as there was no question of stars reporting late for work, etc.

What more can I say about him? The more I talk of him, the more I want to pen down… I could write volumes on him as a father, a producer, a director, a studio owner, and especially as the most excellent human being on earth that I ever knew… (Yasmeen – A.R. Kardar’s daughter)