Kanhaiyalal Age, Death, Wife, Family, Biography & More

Quick Info→
Wife: Jambansi Chaturvedi
Hometown: Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Age: 72 Years


Profession(s)• Actor
• Writer
Famous for Playing the role of Sukhilala in the film 'Mother India' (1957)
DebutFilm (Actor): Jhul Badn (1938)
Last FilmHaathkadi (1981)
Personal Life
Date of Birth15 December 1910 (Thursday)
BirthplaceBanaras, United Province, British India (now Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India)
Date of Death14 August 1982
Age (at the time of death) 72 Years
Nationality Indian
HometownVaranasi, Uttar Pradesh
Educational Qualification4th Standard
Relationships & More
Marital Status (at the time of death)Married
Wife/SpouseFirst Wife: Name not known
Second Wife: Jambansi Chaturvedi
Kanhaiyalal with his wife
ChildrenSon- 3
Daughter- 4

Note: His daughter Hemaa Singh is a filmmaker.
ParentsFather- Pandit Bhairodutt Choube (proprietor of the Sanatan Dharm Ramleela Mandali in Varanasi)
Mother- Name not known
SiblingsBrother: Sankata Prasad Chaturvedi (actor)
Sister: Kunwar

Kanhaiyalal (standing first from right) with the cast of the film 'Ek Hi Raasta'

Some Lesser Known Facts About Kanhaiyalal

  • Kanhaiyalal Chaturvedi was an Indian actor who worked in Bollywood films. He is recognized for his role as Sukhilala in the film ‘Mother India’ (1957).
  • Since childhood, he aspired to work in the film industry; however, his father was not in support of his decision. Despite this, he persuaded his father and began working in a theatre group by doing small tasks.
  • At the young age of 16, he started working as a writer for theatre plays and also started taking up minor roles.
  • Following his father’s demise, Kanhaiyalal and his elder brother made an attempt to manage their father’s drama company, but, they were unsuccessful and had to shut it down. After this, he and his elder brother operated a grocery store to sustain their household expenses.
  • Kanhaiyalal later moved to Bombay to pursue his dream of making a career in the film industry. Initially, he started working there in theatrical productions in various capacities. He also staged some of his self-written plays such as ‘Pandrah August’ in Bombay.
  • In the beginning, he aspired to become a writer and director instead of an actor. However, he later entered the film industry as an extra artist in Sagar Movietone’s ‘Sagar Ka Sher’ (1937).
  • In an interview, he revealed how he got his debut role in the film ‘Jhul Badn’ (1938) starring Motilal and Sabita Devi. He revealed that the actor who was meant to play the role of Motilal’s father didn’t show up at the studio. Consequently, the director asked Kanhaiyalal to read the dialogues, which he read in a unique poetic style that impressed the director and eventually led to his selection for the role. He talked about this in an interview and said,

    An actor playing Motilal’s father had not reported on the sets, so there was an opportunity to step into the breach. The dialogue I had to speak ran to a full sheet of foolscap paper. Almost everyone on the sets was ready to laugh at me trying to be an actor, but God helped me and I did my job.”

  • In 1938, he appeared in the film ‘Sadhana’ in which he played the role of the protagonist’s grandfather. He was only 28 years old at that time. In addition to acting, he also contributed to the film by writing songs and dialogues.
  • He took up the character of a villain for the first time in his acting career, by playing the role of Banke in the film ‘Ek Hi Raasta’ (1939).
  • Kanhaiyalal got upset because of not getting the chance to direct a film and went back to his hometown Varanasi after working in the film ‘Ek Hi Raasta.’ He later came back to Bombay with an agreement to assist Virendra Desai (son of Chimanlal Desai, the head of Sagar Movietone) on the film ‘Sanskar’ (1940). The actor rewrote the dialogue and lyrics of the film; however, his efforts did not lead to success.
  • In 1940, the actor gained immense popularity for playing the role of Sukhilala in the film ‘Aurat,’ directed by Mehboob Khan. The film was later proved to be the breakthrough of his career; making Sukhilala to be the most remarkable role played by him.

    Kanhaiyalal as Sukhilala in the film 'Aurat' (1940)

    Kanhaiyalal as Sukhilala in the film ‘Aurat’ (1940)

  • While filming the scene of a collapsing house for the film ‘Aurat,’ Kanhaiyalal sustained injuries. However,  after being injured, he was so committed to his work that when the director suggested calling a doctor, he declined and was instead determined to finish filming the remaining shots.
  • The actor played the role of Sukhilala, a middle-aged moneylender, in the film ‘Aurat’ without any makeup. In an interview, he revealed that at that time, no makeup artist was ready to do his makeup and he had to carry out his role without any makeup except for a moustache. He said,

    There was no make-up man free or willing to attend to me. When I explained this difficulty to Faredoon Irani, the cinematographer, he calmly said, ‘Don’t worry. Just appear as you are and I will photograph you without makeup.’ He did just that. My make-up consisted only of a moustache.”

  • Kanhaiyalal’s performance as Sukhilal in the film ‘Aurat’ was so convincing that when the film was remade by Mehboob Khan as ‘Mother India’ in 1957, he was asked to replay the same role in the remake. This made him the first actor in Hindi cinema to reprise a role after a gap of 17 years.

    Kanhaiyalal as Sukhilala in the film 'Mother India' (1957)

    Kanhaiyalal as Sukhilala in the film ‘Mother India’ (1957)

  • His performance as Moti, a kind-hearted pickpocket, in the film ‘Bahen’ (1941) was highly acclaimed by the viewers. Initially, only four scenes were allotted to him, but his performance impressed the filmmakers so much that the number of scenes was increased to fourteen by the end of the production.

    Kanhaiyalal in a still from the film 'Bahen'

    Kanhaiyalal in a still from the film ‘Bahen’

  • During his extensive career spanning nearly 45 years, Kanhaiyalal appeared in over 150 films. Some of his most notable films include ‘Bhookh’ (1946), ‘Devdas’ (1955), ‘Upkar’ (1967), ‘Gaon Hamara Shaher Tumhara’ (1972), ‘Satyam Shivam Sundaram’ (1978), and ‘Haathkadi’ (1981).
  • In an interview, he revealed that in most of his films, he played the elderly characters. He further added that he started playing elderly characters when he was young. While talking about this in the interview, he said,

    I was quite young but I thus started playing old roles. And, down the years, I got older and older but my roles didn’t grow younger and younger!”

  • In addition to acting and writing, Kanhaiyalal had a keen interest in music.
  • He loved to eat paan and was accustomed to carrying a paan box with him at all times. Reportedly, he used to eat paan more often than he ate regular food.
  • In 2021, a documentary film named ‘Naam Tha Kanhaiyalal’ was made by Kanhaiyalal’s daughter, Hemaa Singh in which she documented the life and success of the veteran actor. This film was streamed on MX Player and also presented at various film festivals under the title ‘Cradle to Grave.’

    Poster of the documentary film 'Naam Tha Kanhaiyalal'

    Poster of the documentary film ‘Naam Tha Kanhaiyalal’

  • Hemaa Singh, the daughter of Kanhaiyalal, expressed in an interview that her father has made a significant contribution to the film industry and deserves recognition through the ‘Dadasaheb Phalke Award.’

    My father, who has acted in over 120 films, has made an immense contribution to the film industry and now needs recognition in the form of Dadasaheb Phalke award.” [1]The Times of India

  • Govinda, a prominent Bollywood actor, is considered a close family friend of Kanhaiyalal, as his father shared a close relationship with Kanhaiyalal.

    Kanhaiyalal's daughter Hemaa Singh with Govinda

    Kanhaiyalal’s daughter Hemaa Singh with Govinda