Chetan Anand (director)

Chetan Anand (3 January 1921 – 6 July 1997) was a Hindi film producer, screenwriter and director from India, whose debut film, Neecha Nagar, was awarded the Grand Prix Prize (Now Golden Palm) at the first ever Cannes Film Festival in 1946. Later he co-founded Navketan Films with his younger brother Dev Anand in 1949.[2]

Chetan Anand
Anand on a 2013 stamp of India
Born(1921-01-03)3 January 1921
Died6 July 1997(1997-07-06) (aged 76)
Occupationproducer, director, Actor, Screenwriter
Years active1944–1994
Uma Anand (m. 1943)
Partner(s)Priya Rajvansh
Children2; Ketan Anand and Vivek Anand
RelativesSee Anand-Sahni family
AwardsCannes Film Festival: Palme d'Or (Best Film): Neecha Nagar (1946)

He was the eldest brother of the Anand family as he was the elder brother to Hindi film actor-directors, Dev Anand and Vijay Anand. His younger sister, Sheel Kanta Kapur, is the mother of Hindi and English film director Shekhar Kapur.


Early life

Chetan Anand was born on 3 January 1921, in Lahore, British India, to well-to-do advocate Pishori Lal Anand. Chetan Anand went to Gurukul Kangri Vishwavidyalaya to study Hindu scriptures and graduated in English from Government College Lahore.[3] He remained a member of Indian National Congress in the 1930s, subsequently worked for the BBC and taught at the Doon School, Dehradun for a while, before coming down to Bombay to sell a film script.[4]


In the early 1940s, while he was teaching History, he wrote a film script on king Ashoka, which he went on to show to director Phani Majumdar in Bombay. Anand failed to qualify for the Indian Civil Service (ICS) exams in London. As luck would have it, Phani Majumdar cast him as a lead in his Hindi film, Rajkumar, released in 1944. He also became associated with Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA) in Bombay present day Mumbai.

He soon took to film direction with the well-acclaimed movie Neecha Nagar which won the Palme d'Or (Best Film) award (then known as 'Grand Prix') at the Cannes Film Festival in 1946.[5][6] It was the debut film for Kamini Kaushal and became the first Indian film to gain international recognition[7] and was the debut of Pandit Ravi Shankar.[8]

By the early 1950s, he and his younger brother Dev Anand had set up Navketan Productions in Bombay present day Mumbai. Afsar, starring Dev Anand and Suraiya, was the first film made by Navketan, which turned out to be a moderate success. It was followed by Taxi Driver and Andhiyan, both of which he directed for the Navketan banner.

While he made his reputation as a director, Chetan Anand kept on acting too occasionally. He appeared in Humsafar made in 1957. In 1957 he directed two movies Arpan and Anjali, in which he played lead roles too. He went on to act in Kala Bazar, Kinare-Kinare, Aman, Kanch Aur Heera and Hindustan Ki Kasam, which he directed too.[9]

Later on Chetan Anand started his own production banner called Himalaya films and teamed up with photographer Jal Mistry, music director Madan Mohan, lyrics writer Kaifi Azmi and actress Priya Rajvansh. Together they gave some of most memorable and unique films in Hindi cinema like Haqeeqat, Heer Raanjha, Hanste Zakhm, and Hindustan Ki Kasam.

Anand is known to be the film-maker who 'discovered' Rajesh Khanna from an acting competition. Khanna as a result got his first break and was cast by Anand in the film Aakhri Khat, although G.P.Sippy's 'Raaz' introducing Rajesh Khanna and Babita was the first 'released' film for Rajesh Khanna. Aakhari Khat is known for its beautiful locations, songs penned by Kaifi Aazmi, composed by Khayyam, the beautiful lady Indrani Mukherjee and the child star 'Bunty'. Actually Bunty and the music were the main attractions of this film. Chetan Anand later directed Rajesh Khanna in the film Kudrat, based on the theme of reincarnation, which helped the latter arrest a slide in popularity, allowing Rajesh Khanna make a temporary comeback with this hit film.

Apart from 17 feature films he is also known for the acclaimed television serial, Param Vir Chakra, which was aired Doordarshan in 1988.


In 1943, Chetan Anand married Uma Anand.[10] The couple became the parents of at least two sons, Ketan Anand and Vivek Anand. However, Chetan and Uma separated from each other within a few years of marriage because of incompatibality. Divorce remains a very great taboo in India, for religious and cultural reasons, and until 1976, the law did not even permit divorce by mutual consent. Therefore the couple never got divorced.

In the 1960s, well after being estranged from his wife, Chetan fell in love with Priya Rajvansh, who had made her debut as heroine of Chetan's film Haqeeqat. The two fell in love during the making of this film and their relationshp lasted all their lives. Priya Rajvansh worked in every single film made by Chetan beginning with Haqeeqat, and more surprisingly, she did not work in a single film made by anyone else. Chetan remained married to Uma, who refused to grant him a divorce because of the taboo and oprobium attached to it and because divorce is utterly antithetical to the Hindu religion. Therefore Chetan was unable to formalize his relationship with Priya Rajvansh even to his death, and they had no children together.

Chetan Anand died on 6 July 1997, at the age of 76 in Mumbai.[11] He bequeathed a very sizable portion of his wealth to Priya Rajvansh. This included the right of lifelong residence in his sprawling beachfront bungalow in Juhu, Mumbai, where real estate is among the most expensive in India. She was given no right to sell the property, which would revert to Anand's sons upon her death; the arrangement was made because Priya Rajvansh and Chetan had had no children together, and this would enable her to live her whole life in the house that she had shared with him for two decades, while not depriving Chetan's sons of this very expensive piece of real estate.

On 27 March 2000, three years after his death, Priya Rajvansh was murdered within the same beachfront bungalow.[12] Chetan Anand's sons Ketan Anand and Vivek Anand and with their employees Mala Choudhary and Ashok Chinnaswamy were charged with the murder. After a trial which lasted two years, they were convicted of the crime and given life imprisonment for the murder.[13]


Chetan Anand: The Poetics of Film, a book written by Chetan Anand's wife Uma Anand and son Ketan Anand (Himalaya Films Media Entertainment), was released in 2006.[14][15] A documentary by the same name made by Ketan Anand was released in 2008.[16]

A retrospective of his films was held at the Stuttgart Film Festival and at the India International Centre, New Delhi in 2007.[17][18]



TV series





  1. Page 1, Romancing with Life — an autobiography by Dev Anand, Penguin books India 2007
  2. "With Navketan Films, Anand brothers among Bollywood's first families". Economic Times. 5 December 2011.
  3. How Dev Anand's Navketan changed Indian cinema. (12 December 2011). Retrieved on 2018-11-08.
  4. Encyclopedia Britannica (2003). Encyclopaedia of Hindi Cinema. Popular Prakashan. pp. 89–. ISBN 978-81-7991-066-5.
  5. Grand Prix du Festival International du Film (1939–54)
  6. Maker of innovative, meaningful movies, The Hindu, 15 June 2007.
  7. History will never forget Chetan Anand 13 June 2007.
  8. "My First Break: Pandit Ravi Shankar". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 7 October 2010.
  9. "Filmography-Actor". IMDB.
  10. Chetan Anand – The Dynasty Founder. film ka ilm (3 January 2015). Retrieved on 2018-11-08.
  11. Haqeeqat director Chetan Anand Archived 7 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine, The Indian Express, 7 July 1997.
  12. 'It has still to sink in', 8 April 2000.
  13. Lifer for 4 in Priya Rajvansh murder case, The Times of India, PTI 31 July 2002.
  14. Remembering Chetan Anand and Neecha Nagar Hindustan Times, 29 September 2007.
  15. Book Review Archived 25 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine Bollywood Hungama
  16. CHETAN ANAND: THE POETICS OF FILM- Ketan Anand. India, 2007, 95 min; US Premiere Indo-American Arts Council Inc., New York. 2008.
  17. An enigma resolved, The Hindu, 14 September 2007.
  18. Chetan Anand at Stuttgart film fest DNA, 13 June 2007.
  19. Anjali (1957) Cast and Crew | Actor Actress Director Of Anjali hindi Movie. Retrieved on 8 November 2018.
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