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'If I was a hero, I wouldn't have survived here for so long'

April 14, 2014 15:17 IST

'If I was a hero, I wouldn't have survived here for so long'

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Patcy N/Rediff.com in Mumbai

Several Bollywood stars turned up to share past stories with yesteryear onscreen baddie Prem Chopra at the launch of his biography.

A book on the quintessential Bollywood villain, Prem Chopra, written by his elder daughter Rakita Nanda called Prem Naam Hai Mera… Prem Chopra was launched over the weekend at the JW Marriott Hotel in Juhu, western suburbs of Mumbai.

Actor Akshay Kumar, who launched the book, recalled how he had grown up watching Prem Chopra films.

"In fact, he was the villain of my very first hit film, Khiladi.

"I was shocked to see his age written in this book as 78. It is unbelievable. I want to know how he keeps fit and takes care of his health. He is wrinkle free at this age," Akshay added.

He quipped that it's lovely to have a daughter write a book on her father, but since his own daughter is just 18 months old, he will have to wait a long time for that to happen to him.

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Image: Akshay Kumar, Prem Chopra and Rakita Nanda
Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar

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'We have shared some wonderful moments together'

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Amitabh Bachchan, who has acted in several films with Prem Chopra including Kala Patthar and Do Anjaane, spoke fondly of his association with Chopra.

"We have shared some wonderful moments together. I loved working with him. He is a very good actor," the Big B said.


Image: Amitabh Bachchan and Prem Chopra
Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar

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'I have had a very normal life, so I was not sure whether a book on me would be right'

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The book launch also witnessed a conversation between author and film critic Aupama Chopra and the yesteryear onscreen baddie.

"How did your daughter get you on board with the idea of this book?" Anupama asked.

"I have had a very normal life, so I was not sure whether a book on me would be right but she insisted as I have been in the industry for five decades.

"I think she has done a good job of it. She spoke to my friends and colleagues. She has got the matter all on her own. She has immortalised me through this book," the proud father said.

 

 


Image: Prem Chopra with his wife Uma
Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar

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'I have been a very happy villain'

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Anupama Chopra then asked him whether he agrees that nobody has really tapped into his talent.

"I have been a very honest and hard working actor, irrespective of whether a film is big or small. That probably kept me going.

"I would often want to play a certain character but it would eventually go to the hero. Still, I have no regrets. I have been a very happy villain.

"If I was a hero I would have been out of the industry by now!"

 

 

 


Image: Vidhu Vinod Chopra and his wife Anupama Chopra
Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar

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'Mehboob saab was upset because i worked in Woh Kaun Thi'

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Talking about how he landed in Mumbai, Prem Chopra reveals that he told his father after graduating that he wanted to act in films.

His father refused to let him do so at first.

"But after seeing my dedication, he allowed me to go. He had one condition though, that since I had graduated, I had to find myself a job first. So I landed a job in the circulation department of the Times of India," he remembers.  

Around that time, he often hung around Mehboob Studio, where he met its owner, the producer Mehboob Khan, who promised to cast him in a hero's role.

"Mehboobsaab said I had talent and he would give me a break as a hero, and told me not to sign any film before that.

"But I realised that Mehboobsaab was sick and wouldn't be starting work any time soon. So I took Raj Khosla's film Woh Kaun Thi as they wanted an unknown face (as the villain).

"The movie had such a big director and actors like Manoj Kumar and Sadhana. I had a total of three appearances in the film. It was a suspense film and my character added to the story.

"It became a huge hit and I became a villain. Mehboobsaab was upset.” 


Image: Randhir and Rishi Kapoor
Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar

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'Beware take care of your wives, Prem Chopra has arrived'

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Prem Chopra's son-in-law, actor Sharman Joshi, who was at the launch with other members of the Chopra family, narrated an amusing anecdote from the book.

Once, Prem Chopra and his father were strolling in Chandigarh.

Four couples were passing by and one of the men said, 'Beware take care of your wives, Prem Chopra has arrived.

His father got upset and said, 'What sort of reputation do you have?’ But at the same time he was proud of his son.


Image: Rakesh Roshan, Jeetendra
Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar

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'I thought he must be flirting with someone somewhere'

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Prem Chopra got his first break in Manoj Kumar’s Woh Kaun thi.

The duo went on to work in more films including Shaheed, Mera Saya, Kranti etc.

'I am astonished at how many films Prem Chopra has worked in without me,' Kumar remarked.

The veteran actor went on to add, 'He never tried to impress anyone, we have been together since our struggling days. In this book he has spoken about himself, but he has taken care that he doesn't disrespect anyone.'

Kumar too narrates an interesting incident involving Chopra.

"We were shooting Purab Aur Paschin in Shimla.

"He was educated there and knew his way around so he would go out on strolls.

"I couldn't find him anywhere and thought he'd be flirting with someone somewhere.

"Then I came to know he was in his room. I went to his room without making any noise so I could catch him red handed, only to find that he and his father were chatting. It was a beautiful sight to see," Kumar recalls.


Image: Ketan Desai, Manoj Kumar with his grandson
Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar

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Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Boney Kapoor

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Other stars who attended the book launch event included Bhaag Milkha Bhaag director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and film producer Boney Kapoor.


Image: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Boney Kapoor
Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar

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Abbas-Mustan

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Director duo Abbas-Mustan, photographed at the do.


Image: Abbas-Mustan
Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar

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R Balki, Anil Kapoor, Rahul Nanda

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Director R Balki, Anil Kapoor and Prem Chopra's son-in-law, Rakita Nanda's husband Rahul Nanda.


Image: R Balki, Anil Kapoor, Rahul Nanda
Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar

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Rajkumar Hirani, Saawan Kumar Tak, Vipul Amrutlal Shah

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Director Rajkumar Hirani, director-producers Saawan Kumar Tak, Vipul Amrutlal Shah also turned up in support.


Image: Rajkumar Hirani, Saawan Kumar Tak, Vipul Amrutlal Shah
Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar

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