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B R Chopra passes away

Rediff Entertainment Bureau with inputs from PTI | November 05, 2008 11:34 IST
Last Updated: November 05, 2008 15:03 IST

Noted Bollywood filmmaker, Baldev Raj Chopra passed away early on Wednesday morning at his home in Mumbai. He was keeping ill for quite sometime due to age related disease.

The 94-year producer-director was famous for hit films like Gumrah, Waqt, Dharam Putra and Nikaah.

Chopra began his film career under the banner of B R films with his debut film, Naya Daur starring Dilip Kumar [Images] and Vyjanthimala. The film was a big hit in the 1950s.

He later shifted to television and produced one of the most popular serial, Mahabharat. Later on Chopra took a backseat in filmmaking, making way for his son, Ravi Chopra, who went on to make films like Baaghbaan, Baabul and Bhootnath.

Chopra's younger brother is Yash Chopra [Images] who formed his own company YashRaj films after splitting with his brother.

Chopra will be cremated at the Juhu Crematorium near his home in the evening.

Born on 22nd April 1914, in undivided Punjab, Chopra's interest in films started as a movie journalist. After partition, he moved to Delhi [Images] and then to Mumbai. He began his celluloid career writing and editing film reviews for the Cine Herald Journal. In 1949, he produced his first film Karwat, which unfortunately turned out to be a flop.

In 1951, he tried his luck again as producer and director of film Afsana which became a mega hit at the box office. The movie, a tale of mistaken identity with Ashok Kumar in double role, went for a silver jubilee run.

In 1955, B R formed his own production house 'B R Films'. His first movie for this production house was highly successful Naya Daur. Encouraged by this success, B R started off on a roll with the release of Ek Hi Raasta (1956), a drama about widow remarriage and then churned out a string of successful films, the most notable being Naya Daur (1957), Sadhana (1958), Kanoon (1960), Gumrah (1963) and Humraaz (1967).

He also gave his younger brother Yash Chopra, his first directorial opportunity with the box-office hit Dhool Ka Phool (1959) and in the subsequent years Yash made four more films, including Waqt (1965) and Ittefaq (1969).

B R was instrumental in developing the career of singer Mahendra Kapoor and utilised him in most of his movies.

B R always endeavoured to make socially relevant films and at the same time tried to cater to popular sentiment. For instance, Naya Daur (1957) depicted the confrontation between rural tradition and modern technology.

B R perceived mechanism as evil and allowed his protagonist, a horse carriage rider, to defeat an automobile in a race. He also made films that were regarded as ahead of their time. Kanoon (1960), a courtroom drama, was perhaps the first experiment in Bollywood to make a film without any song.

Gumrah (1963) told the tale of a woman resuming her affair after marriage and Ittefaq (1969) showed the heroine as a killer of her husband.

B R continued to make films in 1970s and 1980s, and met success with Insaf Ka Tarazu (1980) focusing on the issue of rape, and Nikaah (1982), a Muslim love triangle. His son Ravi did try to keep the banner going but none of the films did well except for Aaj Ki Awaz (1984), another courtroom tale, and a family drama Baghban (2003).

B R Films turned to television in 1985 and made several successful television programmes, the most successful of the being the serial Mahabharata [Images] (1988). It entered the 'Guinness Book of World Records' by registering 96 per cent world viewership.

In 1999, B R was awarded the Dada Saheb Phalke Award for his contribution to Indian cinema. B R's third generation has also taken its bow with one of Ravi's son turning director and another an actor.

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