Sarvottam Badami

From Bharatpedia, an open encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Sarvottam Badami
Sarvottam L. Badami

1 January 1910
Died2005(2005-00-00) (aged 95)
Bangalore, Karnataka, India
OccupationFilm director
Years active1932–1952

Sarvottam Badami (1910–2005) was an Indian film director of Hindi, Tamil and Telugu films.[1] He started his career as a sound recordist for the first talkie in India, Alam Ara (1931).[2] In 1948 he helped set up the Films Division for news-reel and documentaries, where he worked as the chief producer in the newsreel department and also made documentaries.[3] His active years were from 1932 to 1952 when he retired from the Films Division and from making feature films to settle in Bangalore.[4]

Early life[edit]

Badami was born in 1910 to a revenue officer working in Mysore.[1] He passed his SSLC and worked as a garage mechanic and then a projectionist in Select Picture House, Bangalore, both of which were owned by Ambalal Patel.[4] Patel moved to Bombay and financed Ardeshir Irani of Imperial Film Company, and Chimanlal Desai as a partner forming Sagar Movietone in 1930.[1]


At the age of 19 years, Badami went to Bombay to study automobile engineering. He was asked by Ardeshir Irani who met him at a wedding to help out with the recording equipment he had purchased from abroad.[5]

Badami helped in the sound recording department for the first Talkie in India, Ardeshir Irani's Alam Ara (1931). Around that time a German director making the film Harishchandra left half-way and Badami offered to complete it, the co-director was Raja Chandrasekhar, although the co-director credit has also been cited as T. C. Vadivelu Naicker.[6] The film turned out to be successful. He was contracted by Sagar Movietone (Sagar Film Company) to direct three films, two in Telugu and one in Tamil: Galava Rishi (Tamil), Rama Paduka Pattabhishekam and Shakuntala in Telugu.[7] The success of these films established him as a director. His working team had people like the cinematographer Faredoon Irani, music director Anil Biswas and the Sagar Movietone favourites Sabita Devi and Motilal.[4]

Initially, to avoid embarrassment to his family he requested not to be credited in the regional language films. He did not know Hindi but from 1932-1947, he worked for Sagar Movietone and directed nearly 30 films in Hindi. His first Hindi film was Chandrahasa (1933) starring Noor Mohammed Charlie.[8] He was paid Rs 2000 per film with the complete film being made within Rs 50,000.[9] He worked with most of the top actors of the time like Motilal, Nargis, Ashok Kumar and Pahari Sanyal. He brought Mehboob Khan who was then doing roles as an extra out of obscurity and gave him the role of Sabita Devi’s father in the film Vengeance is Mine (1935).[4]

He made several films based on novels. Some of the writers whose work he used were K. M. Munshi, Saratchandra, and Ramanlal Vasanthlal Desai. The film Aap Ki Marzi (1939) was inspired by Edward Buzzell’s Paradise for Three (1938).[1] He became known for his satirical comedies and "socially relevant films".[10] His film Grihalaxmi (1934), which starred Jal Merchant and Sabita Devi had the woman getting into marriage only if her doctor husband agreed not to want children. The success of the film mitigated the enraged public reaction at the time.[7]

He showed his understanding of media publicity required for films when in 1937, Badami resorted to woo audiences by announcing cash prizes of Rs.500, Rs.200 and Rs.100 for the best reviews of his newly released film Kulvadhu (1937). The promotional gambit worked sending audiences to the theatres.[11] According to an interview, most of Badami’s films don’t survive as the negatives were burnt to extract the silver from the silver nitrate.[12]

Later Years[edit]

Apparently, in 1948 Deputy Prime Minister Vallabhbhai Patel, who was then also in charge of Information Ministry, on a visit to the Cine Laboratories Bombay, asked Badami to help set up a News Reel and Documentary section.[12] The Films Division was established in 1948.[13] He became chief producer in the newsreel department and made several documentaries.[14] He worked in the Films Division making documentaries from 1948-1952. After that he stopped making films and returned to Bangalore to retire as "I was a forgotten man in the feature film world".[4] He died in 2005 in Bangalore, Karnataka, India.[4]



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Ashish Rajadhyaksha; Paul Willemen; Professor of Critical Studies Paul Willemen (10 July 2014). Encyclopedia of Indian Cinema. Routledge. pp. 50–. ISBN 978-1-135-94318-9. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
  2. "Platinum Jubilee of Talkies". Surjit Singh. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
  3. "Sarvottam Badami". Indian Retrieved 25 September 2014.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Bhaktavatsala, M (6 November 2005). "End of an Era Tribute to a legend of cinema" (Sunday Herald Art and Culture). Deccan Herald. Deccan Herald. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
  5. Gita Vittal (1 January 2007). Reflections: Experiences of a Bureaucrat's Wife. Academic Foundation. pp. 72–. ISBN 978-81-7188-471-1. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
  6. "Harishchandra 1932". Indian Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Vittal2007, 73
  8. Sanjit Narwekar (12 December 2012). Eena Meena Deeka: The Story of Hindi Film Comedy. Rupa Publications. pp. 53–. ISBN 978-81-291-2625-2. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
  9. Vittal2007, 74
  10. Narwekar2012, p. 54
  11. Derek Bose (1 January 2006). Everybody Wants a Hit: 10 Mantras of Success in Bollywood Cinema. Jaico Publishing House. pp. 181–. ISBN 978-81-7992-558-4. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Vittal2007, 75
  13. "Films Division". FDI. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
  14. "Sarvottam Badami". Retrieved 25 September 2014.

External links[edit]