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Remembering Mehra Brothers - The Founders Of Punjabi Cinema!

By: Gurwinder Lotay | March 31, 2017

Krishna Dev Mehra aka K.D Mehra can be rightly called the Dada Saheb Phalke of Punjabi Cinema. Born in Punjab (Lahore), he wanted to make a full fledged Punjabi movie when talkies arrived, but no film company in Lahore was interested in making a Punjabi Film in that era.

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He went to Bombay and though his idea of  a film on Heer Ranjha was liked by many, but no one was willing to produce it in Punjabi. He faced rejection again in Bombay after which he working for Calcutta based Madan Theatre film company.

Mubarak Ali Khan (younger brother of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan) too was part of Madan Theatre Film Company and was into making music for his company's home productions. He had an inner desire to be an actor.

During that time the company's owner liked the Punjabi songs of a young girl named Noor-Jehan, who was on a musical tour in Calcutta with her family. He saw talent in this young girl. At this point both Mehra and Mubarak discussed the Punjabi film idea with Seth, to which he agreed but refrained from spending heavily on this project.

The film which was inspired by tale of Heer Ranjha was titled Pind Di Kudi (Sheila for non-punjabi audience -1935). Noor Jehan's elder sister Haideri played the lead role,and Mubarak's wish to be an actor also got fulfilled with first Talkie Punjabi film Pind Di Kudi (Sheila-1935).

Young Noor Jehan also acted and recorded songs for the film which went on to become a big hit and ran successfully through out India. Thereafter, K.D Mehra went on to make more Punjabi films like Heer Syal, Posti and more.

After partition, Lahore film industry's boom period came to en end, and the artists of both India and Pakistan were torn between political borders. Some preferred to stay in India while some moved to Pakistan.

Films were being made to revive the industry, but majority of them met with major disappointments and there were only a few which could be counted as success.

K.D Mehra's younger brother M.M Mehra assisted him for his films and somewhere in the early fifties he was invited to Pakistan for a cultural event, where he was offered to make Pakistani films. With much competition back home, he accepted the offer of a Pakistani film called Akeli.

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K.D Mehra played an important role in recruiting many talented artists for Chopra Brothers (B.R films) when his younger brother was busy directing films in the neighboring country. After directing a handful of Urdu films, M.M Mehra directed few Punjabi films as well, but soon had to return back due to increase in tensions between both the countries.

In India he directed a few Hindi films and later directed a Punjabi film titled Satluj De Kande starring Balraj Sahni and Nishi. It went on to win the National Award.

Mehra brothers had a major contribution in Punjabi Cinema as being the makers of the first ever Talkie Punjabi Film and reviving Punjabi cinema in Pakistan and later on giving the audiences a National Award winning Punjabi Film.

But sadly Punjabi entertainment industry has failed to acknowledge them for their work but we haven't.

Kudos to the Mehra Bros!

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