Vijay Jagneshwar Bhatt was born on 12 May 1907, into the modest household of Benkunwar Bhatt and Jagneshwar Bhatt, who was a railway guard at Palitana, Bhavnagar district, Gujarat.
He moved to Bombay in his twenties, along with his elder brother, Shankarbhai Bhatt, who took up a job, and went on to become a noted producer; Vijay enrolled in St. Xavier's College, and completed Intermediate from the Science stream, and later received a diploma in 'Electrical Lighting and Traction' through a correspondence course from London.
After completing his education with an electrician's diploma, Bhatt started his career at Bombay Electric Supply & Tramways Company Limited (BEST), where he worked till he became the Drawing Office Superintendent. Although he had already written a few scripts for Gujarati theatre, a meeting with Ardeshir Irani was turning point in his career. Irani, who later produced Alam Ara India's first talkie, and also managed the Royal Film Company studio, introduced Bhatt to its owner Abu Husain.
When Husain liked one of his scripts, it paved the way for his debut in Indian film industry as a screenwriter, for director K P Bhave's silent film, Vidhi Ka Vidhan. Irani produced two more of his scripts, Pani Mein Aag and Ghulam (1929) He eventually producing his first silent film, Delhi Ka Chhela in 1929, and went on to direct many notable films, in Hindi, Gujarati and Marathi cinema.
His early film Ram Rajya (1942) was a big hit, and also made news, when it was shown to Mahatma Gandhi in 1942. In 1947, he took the film to the USA, where it was first shown at Museum of Modern Art, New York on 5 May 1947, later he also met noted Hollywood director, Cecil B. DeMille.
His film Baiju Bawra (1952), which was based on the historical tiff between Emperor Akbar's court musician Tansen and the talented singer, Baiju Bawra, ran for a hundred weeks in Bombay, becoming a diamond jubilee hit, and also established its lead cast, Meena Kumari and Bharat Bhushan.
Meena Kumari, who won her first Filmfare Best Actress Award for the film, was launched by Vijay Bhatt in his film Leatherface (1939), as a child artist, "Baby Meena" (born Mahjabeen Bano), a name that stayed with her for the rest of her career.
Bhatt's youngest brother was director-producer Harsukh Jagneshwar Bhatt. Other siblings included Shankarbhai Bhatt (producer), Labhshankarbhai Bhatt, Durlabhben Bhatt, and Nirmalaben Pandya.
Vijay Bhatt was married to Rama Bhatt, with whom he had two sons, Arun Bhatt and Pravin Bhatt, and two daughters, and later six granddaughters and four grandsons. Arun Bhatt, his older son, was a film director in Hindi cinema with films such as Vardaan starring Mehmood, Jawani Zindabad and Ghar Jamaai. He was a renowned producer-director of Gujarati Cinema with a record of 9 films being jubilees out of the 14 he had made. His younger son, Pravin Bhatt, is a cinematographer in Hindi cinema, and his grandson, Vikram Bhatt, is a noted film director. Arun Bhatt's son Chirantan Bhatt is a music director in Bollywood and has given hits such as BOSS, Haunted 3D and 1920 Evil Returns, EMI and Mission Istanbul.
As DirectorKhwab Ki Duniya aka Dreamland (1937)
State Express (1938)
Leatherface aka Farzande Watan (1939)
Narsi Bhagat (1940)
Ek Hi Bhool (1940)
Bharat Milap (1942)
Ram Rajya (1943)
Samaj Ko Badal Dalo (1947)
Baiju Bawra (1952)
Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1954)
Goonj Uthi Shehnai (1959)
Hariyali Aur Raasta (1962)
Himalaya Ki God Mein (1965)
Ram Rajya (1967)
Hira Aur Patthar (1977)
1966: Filmfare Best Movie Award: Himalaya Ki God Mein (1965)