This biographical article has been written by Film historian, author and our mentor Arunkumar Deshmukh ji. We thank him for writing this article.
Like any other language, there are writers and authors in Marathi too, who write on old films and old actors etc from the vintage Hindi films. One such author calls himself ” Babu Moshoi “. His articles are published regularly in newspapers, magazines etc. He has written several books. His real name is Hemant Desai. Another such writer in Hindi and Gujarati is Vithal Pandya. I have many such books in my library. Through these books I get to know old actors and their information, sometimes. I get surprised at many names as I read about some names about whom I had never known. For example, do you know who did King Dashrath’s role in films Bharat Milap-42 and Ramrajya-43, or the role of Kanva Muni in film Shakuntala-43 ? Who was the actress in Kaushalya’s role in Ramrajya-43 or Ram Vivah-49 ?
This actor was I. T. Nimbalkar and this actress was Shanta Kothari (nee Shanta Kumari). These were artistes from Silent film era, spilled over the Talkie films. They started as Hero and Heroine, but shifted to character roles, as the time went by. In our film industry, such cases are not new. In fact such type of actors who remained practically unknown to later generations of audiences, were highly respected by film people during shootings. Their seniority and work was respected.
This is a very good practice in the industry, by directors and other actors to give respect to old timers. Raj Kapoor used to send his car to fetch Bhudo Advani for shootings of film Boot Polish scenes. Hrishikesh Mukherjee kept special chair for Master Shiraz, during the shooting of film Guddi. He also ensured to feature Shiraz in the film credits. These are only samples to stress what I have said. Not every such matter is published but it is a special feature of the industry.
I try to gather information on such unknown and forgotten artistes and write on them. Not everytime I am successful, but I have written about many such actors, directors, MDs etc. Some of them are Omkar Devaskar, Zunzar rao pawar, Ganapat rao Bakare, Shankar rao Vazare, Naseem Junior, Shamim Jr, Altaf, Urmila, Ranjana, kusum Deshpande, Vasant rao Thengadi, Jamshed ji etc etc. Today, we will know more about one such old time actor who was prolific and worked in films of Bombay and Calcutta.
I.T.Nimbalkar aka Indurao T. Nimbalkar ( he was always credited as only ‘ Nimbalkar ‘ in all films) was born on 6-12-1893, in Kolhapur state. This was the time Kolhapur was slowly developing as Kalapur (hub of arts) and the seeds of film making were being planted there. Baburao Painter, one of the original film makers had started his ” Maharashtra Film Company” on 1-12 1917.
Baburao, Damle, Fattelal etc were taught painting By Anandrao painter, who was an extraordinary painter of those times. All these people, along with V Shantaram, Keshavrao Dhaiber and few more also joined Baburao painter’s Maharashtra Film company. True that, film making had started even earlier in Maharashtra, but Baburao painter is credited with making films a form of art and spreading it on a larger canvas of India.
Indurao Nimbalkar grew up in this atmosphere in Kolhapur. He passed his Matriculation exam and also did a diploma in Printing. Nimbalkar was six feet tall and had a good physique. He was expert in riding, swimming and wrestling. He did 1000 sit-ups every day. Shahu Maharaj, the king of Kolhapur encouraged all arts as well as development of lower castes. Arya Samaj had a ‘ Gurukul’ in Kolhapur. Impressed with Nimbalkar’s education and body, Shahu ji appointed him as Editor of the weekly ‘ Arya’ and secretary of Gurukul.
One day Baburao Painter, along with assistant V Shantaram visited his press and offered Nimbalkar a role in his proposed film Sairandhri. Shahu Maharaj also permitted and encouraged him ,so Nimbalkar joined the film line. He was already famous due to his fiery editorials and now people came to see his shootings too. However, due to money shortage, the film did not complete. ( It was later made in 1919, but with different cast. V Shantaram made coloured Sairandhri in 1933 with Nimbalkar again).
Nimbalkar acted in many silent films like Baji Deshpande, Khazanchi (directed by Moti gidwani- England returned), Lanka, Kismet (directed by Baburao Patel) etc etc. After the closure of Maharashtra F. Co., Nimbalkar was invited by V Shantaram to do Vishvamitra’s role in its first Talkie film ” Ayodhya ka Raja” -1932, in Hindi and Marathi. After this, he did Jalti Nishani-32, Sairandhri-33, Maya Machhindra-32, Sinhagadh-23 etc.
After this, Nimbalkar went to Calcutta on invitation and worked in films made by Radha Films, Laxmi Studios, Devdatta films and New Theatres. From 1934 to 1938, he acted in 12 Hindi films. He was provided a Bungalow, car with driver, servants etc. His son studied in local school there. Returning to Bombay he worked as an assistant director to Keshavrao Dhaiber for film ‘Nandkumar’-38, made by his Jayashree Films. Next 2 years he shuttled between Calcutta and Bombay. He did King Dashrath’s role in Prakash films’ Bharat Milap-42 and Ramrajya-43 in this period.
He was invited by V Shantaram for acting in his first film under banner of Rajkamal- Shakuntala-43. Nimbalkar did the role of Kanva Muni in it. He later also acted in Jeevan yatra-46, Subah ka tara-54, Parchhain-52, Teen batti char rasta-53, Toofan aur Diya-56, Z Z Payal baje-55. Earlier he did Aapki sewa mein-47, Prarthana-44,Nal Damayanti-45, Seedha Rasta-41, Gokul-46, Apna Ghar-42, Maharathi karna-44, Seeta Swayamvar-48. He worked in Pyasa-57, Mera Naam Joker-70, Amar Prem-60 etc etc. From 1928 to 1970 he acted in over 250 films.
His wife Sushila was also educated and looked after his home and children. She never visited any sets in her life time. Nimbalkar died on 17-1-1973 at Kolhapur.
Here’s a song from the film Bharat Milap-1942.You can see Nimbalkar as Raja Dashrath in the first frame itself.
(Thanks to an article in book Chandraat-चांदरात by Babu Moshoi, in addition to my notes, HFGK, muVyz, CRTWF, Encyclopedia of Indian Cinema and Film India magazines)