Bhagwan Abaji Pandav, better known as Bhagwan or Bhagwan Dada, was known for his highly energetic slapstick performances. His performances in song like Shola jo bhadke, dil mera dhadke ... or Bholi surat dil ke khote, naam bade aur darshan chhote... from the film Albela is remembered till date. His famous dance moves on these songs were copied by all great actors of the time including Amitabh Bachchan, Govinda, Mithun Chakraborty, Sanjay Dutt and many others. An iconic actor he made a special place for himself by showcasing his acting prowess in over 300 films. He died of a massive heart attack at his residence in Dadar in 2002 at age 89.
Bhagwan dada who shot into fame with his musical romantic comedy `Albela' was an important figure of Bollywood. During his long career he acted in many movies creating a niche for himself. His movie Albela with its "rumba-samba beats", comedy, and melodramatic story was "all-time hit". During his lifetime he acted with all notables directors of the time. He turned producer in 1942 with Jagruti Pictures and owned Jagriti Studios in Chembur in 1947.
Life and Times of Bhagwan Dada
Born on 1st August 1913 in Mumbai, Bhagwan Abhaji Palav popularly known as Bhagwan dada was son of a textile mill worker. From his childhood days he was obsessed with films. He was fan of Master Vithal who was the star of silent era movies of that time. He used to dream of emulating his stunt and fight scenes. He build muscles at local gym to add look to his personality. After much struggle he got break in 1930 as a comedian in the silent film "Bewafa Aashiq". Though the film was a hit, but he was without offers for eight months because it was believed that he was really a hunchback!
He soon came across Chandravarkar Pawar who signed him for next three silent movies. He made debut with first talkie "Himmat-e-Mardan" in 1934. He directed "Bahadur Kisan", with Hansa Wadkar as the heroine. The movie again was a big hit. After this success he directed and acted in many films like "Dosti", "Jalan", "Criminal", "Bhedi Bangla" and so on. His pairing with Nadia was hailed by audiebxdes. He also acted as a hero in "Bade Sahib", "Daamad", "Ghazab", "Ram Bharose" and "Bhoole Bhatke". One of the notable films that he made during this period was "Bhedi Bangla". It was suspense and horror film never tried by any actor of the time.
Once during shoot he accidentally slapped actress Lalita Pawar so hard that she never fully recovered from her internal injuries. She was affected with facial paralysis and a burst left eye vein. Even after years of treatment she was not able to recover fully and was left with a defective left eye for lifetime.
Though an accomplished actor he also tries hands in production. In 1942 he turned producer with Jagruti Pictures and owned Jagriti Studios in Chembur in 1947.
After giving many action movies he on the advice of Raj Kapoor took up a role in a social film called Albela starring Geeta Bali. Amazingly the movie was a huge hit and was in tune with the newly independent India. It ran for more than 50 weeks at the theatres where it was shown. The melodic songs like "Shola jo bhadke" are still remembered. His attempt to recreate the magic of “Albela" fizzled with such spin-offs as "Labela" and "Jhamela", which were miserable flops. Other films like "Sahme Hue Sapney" didn’t survive beyond the first show. Then after his popularity graph declined and he suffered a heavy loss while making "Hanste Rehna" with Kishore Kumar.
Indebted by loans he had to sell his sea-facing Juhu bungalow with 25 rooms along with his fleet of seven cars. He along with family moved to a two-room set in a chawl at Dadar. In his last days he was being looked after by his unmarried daughter and his youngest son. The Cine Artistes’ Association and the Indian Motion Picture producers’ Association were paying him Rs 3,000 and Rs 5,000, respectively, for the past few years. He died of a massive heart attack at his residence in Dadar in 2002 at age 89.
Entire Film Industry
(FAN OF Mr. BHAGWAN DADA)
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