WHEN ARTIST M.A. RAHMAN CHUGHTAI LANDED IN BOMBAY,
THE STORY OF BUTKADAH FILM PRODUCTIONS AND ASHOK KUMAR
An episode in the life of the artist of Lahore
After the return of M.A. Rahman Chughtai from Europe in 1938, there were acute financial issues. He found a solution in publication of the book CHUGHTAI PAINTINGS. The lure of writing had not gone away from him. It came in the form of his writing of FILM SCRIPTS. He wrote a number of film scripts, a few in URDU and one even in PUNJABI. The urdu one was named SEHERBEEN (viewing box), which was the story of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahall. The Punjabi one was Thandi Chawan (Cool Shelters). Some of these scripts we still have, one was presented to Dallip Kumar, who did not even had the courtesy to acknowledge same. Maybe he should return it one day.
Realizing that commercial houses will not venture into Art Productions, Chughtai launched a FILM PRODUCTION HOUSE, and named it BUTKADAH CINE ART CENTER. Advertisements appeared in the local press and were entitled “CHUGHTAI KO KHOOBSURAT CHAHRYOAN KEE TALASH HAI”. Many well known people came for the interview. One was Pari Chayra Naseem to the house. In those war times it was not easy to get registered and launch such a thing. An investor was ready to finance him and the British Government gave him special permission to import relevant equipment for same. After the initial attempts, the decision was to move to Bombay itself.
When Chughtai landed in Bombay, the news spread far and wide. Parties were being arranged and Chughtai was amongst the film stars. Here he met the second Gangoly in his life. That is Ashok Kumar, the iconic actor. Everything was in place and everything was moving in the right direction. Ashok Kumar made a statement which startled the artist. He said you will be a big success in film industry and you will make a name in it, but your own ART will die its natural end. This sentence shocked the artist and made his head spin. Irritating and annoying all his comrades as well as the investor, Chughtai decided to leave Bombay and come back to Lahore. The money of the investor was returned and the right of Film Production given away. There was nothing in the world which would substitute his desire to remain an artist. Film production was a sacrifice which he gave away easily. Few people know about Butkadah, an episode in the life of M.A. Rahman Chughtai.