Born in Binjai, on February 19, 1923. Prior to working in films, Bachtiar had been actively writing scripts, including The Blood People, The Blood of Worker and Rosanti. In 1974 he studied scenario writing through Pudovkin's Book. Previously joined in guerrilla against the Dutch and Japanese.
Dived into the world of film in 1955 as director for the Tjorak Dunia film. Later in the film Kabut Desember (December Fog) (1955), Daerah Hilang (Missing Region) (1956) and played the lead role in the film Melati Sendja (Sunset Jasmine) (1956). In the Indonesia Film Festival 1960 he received an award as best director for the film Turang (1957). Active in film, and also wrote in several mass media, specifically about film and related matters of the world of film such as "pelajaran sinematografi" "a lesson in cinematography", writing film critics, and others. Bachtiar is also known as the Chairman of the Film Institute of Indonesia (Lekra)(People's Art Foundation associated with the banned Indonesian Communist Party). For that, he was banished to Pulau Buru (Buru Island), and was freed in 1977.