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Sardar Akhtar

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Sardar Akhtar
File:Sardar Akhtar (Asra).jpg Sardar_Akhtar_(Asra).jpg
Still shot from the film Asra (1941)
BornSardar Begum
Lahore, British India
💀Died1986 (aged 70–71)
New York City, US[1]1986 (aged 70–71)
Resting placeBadakabarastan, Mumbai, Maharashtra
🏳️ Nationality
💼 Occupation
📆 Years active  1933–45, 1971–73
👩 Spouse(s)Mehboob Khan

Sardar Akhtar was an Indian cinema actress of Hindi/Urdu films. She started her acting career on the Urdu stage. Her early films were with Saroj Movietone, where she did a majority of stunt (action) roles. She came into prominence as the washer-woman in the role of Rami Dhoban in Sohrab Modi's Pukar (1939). As a woman seeking justice for the death of her husband, it was a breakthrough role for her. A popular song she sang in the film was "Kaheko Mohe Chhede".[2] Her career defining role was as a "peasant woman" deserted by her husband, in Mehboob Khan's Aurat (1940), a role later made famous by Nargis in Mehboob's remake Mother India.[3]

She acted in over 50 films in a career span of 1933–45. Akhtar married Mehboob Khan in 1942, whom she had met when he cast her in Ali Baba (1940). She stopped after completing films like Fashion (1943) and Rahat. She resumed as a character actress in the 1970s when she acted in O. P. Ralhan's Hulchul (1971).[4]

Early life[edit]

Akhtar was born in 1915, in Lahore, British India. She started as a supporting "dancer-artiste"[5] and commenced her film career by acting in stage plays produced by Madan Theatres Ltd.[citation needed]


Akhtar started her career at Saroj Movietone doing what were then termed as "stunt" films. She acted in films directed by A. P. Kapoor (Anand Prasad Kapoor) like Roop Basant, Id Ka Chand, Malti Madhav, all in 1933. Some of the action films she did at Saroj were directed by J. P. Advani (Jagatrai Pesumal Advani), including Gafil Musafir, Johare-Shamsheer, Shah Behram and Tilasimi Talwar.[6] In 1934 she acted in Hothal Padmini directed by Kanjibhai Rathod.

In 1935, Akhtar acted in Delhi Express, directed by Madanrai Vakil. In 1936, she starred with K. L. Saigal in the farcical-comedy Karodpati. The comedy was a rare departure from Saigal's normally serious films.[7] Akhtar played a masked avenger in Vijay Bhatt-directed State Express (1938). It was stated to be a "successful film," doing well at the box office. The main draw was a "performing gorilla" and Sardar Akhtar's songs and performance. It was cited by Rajadhyaksha and Willemen as one of the "best stunt films" from Bhatt, who normally made mythologicals.[8]

In 1939, Sardar Akhtar was cast because of her natural earthy looks in Sohrab Modi's Pukar as the washer-woman Rami Dhoban. Hers husband has been accidentally killed by an arrow shot by Empress Nur Jahan. Rami demands justice of Emperor Jehangir, evoking his tenet "A life for a life". Akhtar's role was appreciated by the public and the critics; it was a turning point in her career — from doing stunt roles to big production socials.

1940 had Akhtar working in Ali Baba. The film was directed by Mehboob Khan, someone Akhtar had been trying to meet for some time.[5] It co-starred Surendra and Waheedan Bai and turned out to be a commercial success. A relationship started between Mehboob and Akhtar during the making of Ali Baba, with the two marrying in 1942.

Aurat (1940), directed by Mehboob Khan for National Studios, is referred to as "one of the best classics of Hindi cinema".[citation needed] Described as a "powerful predecessor of Mother India",[9] The role displayed Akhtar's acting potential fully and her "interpretation of the mother figure" was lauded.[10] Akhtar described it as her favourite film performance.[11]

Pooja in 1940 was termed as a "thundering success" by Baburao Patel in his review. Produced by National studios and directed by A. R. Kardar, the review title described it as "Kardar Produces The Best Picture Of The Year". The story, inspired by The Old Maid (1939) by Warner Pictures, was about sisters played by Akhtar and Sitara Devi. Akhtar was commended for performing her role with sincerity.[12]

Personal life[edit]

File:SardarBahar Akhtar.jpg
Sardar Akhtar, Bahar (Mrs. A. R. Kardar), Rita Carlyle, Naseem Banu, and Flo Gubby

Sardar Akhtar was the older sister of Bahar Akhtar, also an aspiring actress.[5] During their debut together opposite A. R. Kardar in his film Qatil Katar, Bahar and Kardar eloped. Production was halted and, ultimately, Bahar stopped working in films.[citation needed]

Akhtar met Mehboob Khan during the making of Alibaba and the two entered into a relationship, which culminated in their marriage in 1942. This was Mehboob's second marriage.[13]

Though Akhtar stopped working after 1945, she was, as stated by Mehboob, his inspiration for making films like Aan (1952), Andaz, and the remake of Aurat: Mother India (1957).[14] Fond of watching films, her favourite actors were Bette Davis, Norma Shearer, Vivien Leigh, and Charles Boyer.[11]


Sardar Akhtar died on 2 October 1986,[1] following a heart attack in New York City, US. Mehboob and Akhtar had no children.

After Mehboob's death in 1964, she became his legal heir with shares in Mehboob Studios and three flats. The property went into litigation once Akhtar's nephew made forgery claims regarding Akhtar's will. The two-decade old dispute is still pending.[15][1]



Year Film Director Co-stars Studio
1933 Id Ka Chand A. P. Kapoor (Anand Prasad Kapoor) Ashraf Khan, Zebunisa Saroj Movietone
1933 Malati Madhav A. P. Kapoor Ashraf Khan, Gulab, Zebunisa Saroj Movietone
1933 Roop Basant A. P. Kapoor Ashraf Khan, Gulab, Zebunisa Saroj Movietone
1933 Naqsh-e-Sulemani a.k.a. Tilasmi Taveez A. P. Kapoor Jani Babu, Zebunisa Saroj Movietone
1933 Husn Ka Gulam J. P. Advani (Jagatrai Pesumal Advani) Ashraf Khan, Gulab, Zebunisa Paramount
1934 Johar-e-Shamsheer a.k.a. The Feats Of The Sword J. P. Advani Nissar, Jani Babu Zebunisa Saroj Movietone
1934 Gafil Musafir a.k.a. Careless Traveller J. P. Advani Ashraf Khan, Ghulam Mohammed, Prabhashankar Saroj Movietone
1934 Tilasmi Talwar a.k.a. Magic Sword a.k.a. Shaif-e-Sulemani Nanubhai Desai Ashraf Khan, Zebunisa, Gulab Saroj Movietone
1934 Hothal Padmini Kanjibhai Rathod Ashraf Khan, Zebunisa Saroj Movietone
1934 Ajamil A. R. Kabuli Ashraf Khan, Zebunisa Saroj Movietone
1934 Dilara J. P. Advani Ashraf khan Zebunisa, Ebrahim Hindustan Cine
1934 Jaan Nissar Kanjibhai Rathod Sultana, Jani Babu, Zebunisa Sarla Cinetone
1935 Shah Behram J. P. Advani Zebunisa, Master Nissar, Dulari, Jani Babu Saroj Movietone
1935 Farebi Duniya J. P. Advani Zebunisa, Navin Yagnik Golden Eagle
1935 Misar Ka Khazana Rajhans Zebunisa, Master Nissar, Ganpat Bakre, Jani Babu Saroj Movietone
1935 Dharma Ki Devi a.k.a. Religious Woman Hiren Bose Kumar, feroze Dastur, Hari Shivdasani, Rafiq Ghaznavi Eastern Arts
1935 Delhi Express Madanrai Vakil Zohra, Ghulam Farid, Master Mohan, Roshan Ara Roshanare
1936 Piya Ki Jogan a.k.a. Purchased Bride Hiren Bose Pramod Chandra, Asha Lata, Krishna Kumari Golden Eagle
1936 Pratima Ram Daryani Nazir, Gope, Indu Kumari Daryani Productions
1936 Prem Bandhan C. N. Lala Sitara Devi, Benjamin, Putli Golden Eagle
1936 Sangdil Samaj Ram Daryani Nazir, Gope, Padma Devi, Omkar Devaskar, Hari Shivdasani Daryani Productions
1936 Sher Ka Panja Dwarka Khosla Nazir, Gope, Yasmin, Omkar Devaskar, Hari Shivdasani, Asha Lata, Gope Eastern Arts
1936 Fida-E-Watan a.k.a. The Patriot G. R. Sethi Indu Rani, Gope Daryani Productions
1936 Karodpati a.k.a. Millionaire Hemchandra Chunder K. L. Saigal, Pahari Sanyal, Trilok Kapoor, Molina New Theatres Ltd
1937 Bismil Ki Arzoo B. S. Higle Ramola, Noor Jehan, Mirza, Tara U. P. Cinetone
1937 Khwab Ki Duniya Vijay Bhatt Jayant, Shirin Banu, Umakant, Madhav Marathe Prakash Pictures
1937 His Highness Balwant Bhatt Jayant, Gulab, Shirin Prakash Pictures
1938 State Express Vijay Bhatt Jayant, Shirin Banu, Umakant Prakash Pictures
1938 Poornima Balwant Bhatt Ranjit, Gulab, Badriprasad, Noor Jehan, Umakant Prakash Pictures
1939 Pukar Sohrab Modi Chandra Mohan, Naseem Banu, Sohrab Modi Minerva Movietone
1940 Ali Baba Mehboob Khan Surendra, Wahidan, Ghulam Mohammed Sagar Movietone
1940 Aurat a.k.a. Woman Mehboob Khan Surendra, Yakub, Jyoti National Studios
1940 Bharosa Mehboob Khan Chandra Mohan, Naval, Sheela Minerva Movietone
1940 Pooja a.k.a. Worship A. R. Kardar Sitara Devi, Zahur Raja, Jyoti National Studios
1941 Aasra Lalit Mehta Husn Banu, Amar, Veena National Studios
1941 Nai Roshni Chimankant Gandhi Husn Banu, Meena Kumari, Kanhaiyalal National Studios
1942 Ghar Sansar Vishnu Vyas Jehanara Kajjan, Mazhar Khan, Nazir Sunrise Pictures
1942 Uljhan a.k.a. The Dilemma N. R. Acharya Mazhar Khan, Anjali Devi Acharya Art
1942 Phir Milenge Sohrab Modi Meena Shorey, K. N. Singh, Sohrab Modi Minerva Movietone
1942 Duniya Ek Tamasha a.k.a. The World's A Show Dwarka Khosla Urmila, Gope, W. M. Khan Saubhagya Pictures
1943 Masterji Krishna Gopal Harish, Veena Kumari, Pande Raja Movies
1943 Fashion S. F. Hasnain Chandra Mohan, Sabita Devi, Bhudo Advani Fazil Bros.
1945 Rahat Ramnik Desai Jairaj, Indira, Kanhaiyalal Kirti Pictures
1971 Hulchul O. P. Ralhan Kabir Bedi, Sonia Sahni, Helen O. P. Ralhan
1973 Bandhe Haath O. P. Goyal Amitabh Bachchan, Mumtaz, Kumud Chhugani O. P. Ralhan


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Mahajani, Urvi (12 February 2014). "Two charged with forging will to take over Mehboob Studio". Diligent Media Corporation Ltd. dna. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  2. Ashish Rajadhyaksha; Paul Willemen (10 July 2014). Encyclopedia of Indian Cinema. Taylor & Francis. pp. 1994–. ISBN 978-1-135-94325-7. Retrieved 21 July 2015. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  3. Gulazāra; Govind Nihalani; Saibal Chatterjee (2003). "The Emergence of Talkies". Encyclopaedia of Hindi Cinema. Popular Prakashan. p. 55. ISBN 978-81-7991-066-5. Retrieved 19 July 2015. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  4. Mahmood, Hameeddudin. "Sardar Akhtar-Profile". cineplot.com. Cineplot. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Bunny Reuben (1994). Mehboob, India's DeMille: The First Biography. Indus. p. 67. ISBN 978-81-7223-153-8. Retrieved 19 July 2015. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  6. Ashish Rajadhyaksha; Paul Willemen (10 July 2014). "Advani, Jagatrai Pesumal". Encyclopedia of Indian Cinema. Taylor & Francis. pp. 1994–. ISBN 978-1-135-94325-7. Retrieved 19 July 2015. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  7. Raj, Ashok (2009). Hero Vol.1, Volume 1 Bollywood series. Hay House, Inc. ISBN 9789381398029. Retrieved 19 July 2015. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  8. RajadhyakshaWillemen2014, p. 279
  9. Ashok Raj (1 November 2009). "Mehboob Khan". Hero Vol.1. Hay House, Inc. pp. 126–. ISBN 978-93-81398-02-9. Retrieved 19 July 2015. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  10. Vijay Mishra (21 August 2013). Bollywood Cinema: Temples of Desire. Routledge. p. 69. ISBN 1-135-31092-0. Retrieved 21 July 2015. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Sardar Akhtar's Snow-White Simplicity". Filmindia. 7 (9): 42. September 1941. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  12. Patel, Baburao (January 1941). "Review-Puja". Filmindia. 7 (1): 33.
  13. Rauf Ahmed (1 January 2008). Mehboob Khan: The Romance of History. Wisdom Tree. p. 34. ISBN 978-81-8328-106-5. Retrieved 21 July 2015. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  14. Yash Kohli (1983). The Women of Punjab. Chic Publications. p. 54. Retrieved 19 July 2015. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  15. Deshpande, Swati (14 August 2013). "Two accused of forging sign of filmmaker Mehboob Khan's widow withdraw plea". Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. Times of India. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  16. "Sardar Akhtar". wiki.indiancine.ma. Indiancine.ma. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  17. "Sardar Akhtar". citwf.com. Alan Goble. Retrieved 21 July 2015.

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