J Om Prakash was much more than just Hrithik Roshan’s maternal grandfather.
He made a slew of superhit movies right from 1961, when he first produced the Rajendra Kumar-Vyjayanthimala-starrer Aas Ka Panchi.
The film and its songs were runaway hits.
Three years later, Omji returned with his next production, Ayee Milan Ki Bela, another hit.
With Aaye Din Bahaar Ke and Aaya Saawan Jhoom Ke (both featuring Dharmendra and Asha Parekh) following in quick succession, Omji acquired the reputation of a hit machine with chartbuster music, largely composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal.
In 1972, Omji produced Aankhon Aankhon Mein, starring his son-in-law Rakesh Roshan.
Sadly, his films with Rakesh Roshan -- Aakhir Kyon and Aap Ke Saath -- never clicked.
In 1974, after producing a slew of hits -- including, believe it or not, Gulzar’s Aandhi! -- Omji turned director with the hit, Aap Ki Kasam, featuring Rajesh Khanna and Mumtaz.
To this day, this film is remembered for its scintillating soundtrack by R D Burman, including Karvatein badalte rahe (shot in Kashmir), Jai Jai Shiv Shankar and the Kishore Kumar classic Zindagi ke safar mein guzar jaate hain jo muqaam woh phir nahin aate.
But J Om Prakash's biggest hits starred Jeetendra.
Beginning with Apnapan (1977), Omji and Jeetendra teamed up for four other films, including the 1980 blockbuster, Asha.
“We had a terrific rapport,” Jeetendra recalls fondly.
Jeetendra, in fact, was clearly his favourite, along with Reena Roy.
While the world saw Reena as an oomphy glamour girl, Omji cast her in strong dramatic parts in Apnapan, Asha and Aadmi Khilona Hai.
Asha Parekh, who did two back-to-back hits with Omji -- Aaye Din Bahaar Ke and Aaya Saawan Jhoom Ke -- remembers him as a gentleman.
“He was soft-spoken and very knowledgeable about cinema, especially music. The songs in the two films I did with him were big hits," she says.
In his distinguished 40-year career as a filmmaker, Omji broke many rules and made new ones.
If he directed a disaster called Aashiq Hoon Baharon Ka in 1977 (shot in foreign locations with Rajesh Khanna and Zeenat Aman), he also produced and directed the monster hit Apnapan in the same year.
Prolific and passionate, Omji’s cinema is far more valuable than we think.
Did you know these songs featured in his films?