Shri BR Chopra died recently.A regular contributor to Muse India, a literary e-magazine (www.museindia.com)one Dr K Mallick,posted a tribute to Chopra ji.I posted the following comments in response to his piece:
Dear Mallickji, I join you in paying my tribute to Shri B R Chopra. Passing away of Baldev Raj Chopra on 5 November 2008 means an end of an era and a generation. He was known for his socially relevant and purposeful films some of which had themes which were way ahead with time. He was specially known for social films like Naya Daur (1957), Kanoon (1961) (songless movie with Ashok Kumar in a scintilating performance), Gumrah (1963) and Humraaz (1967), plus the mega TV Series, Mahabharat in the late 1980s. He was awarded the highest award in Indian cinema, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1998 (He was the 30th recipient). His brother Yash Chopra, son Ravi Chopra and nephew Aditya Chopra are also well known directors in Bollywood industry. Lets hope they will keep the Chopra banner flying. As per information gathered from various sources, he was born in Ludhiana, received an M.A from Lahore University in English Literature. He started his career, as a film journalist with ‘Cine Herald’ a film-monthly published from Lahore in 1938, later he took over the magazine and ran it till 1947. In the same year, he launched a film, Chandni Chowk, with story by IS Johar, in partnership with his friends, and just when the production of film was to start, riots broke out in Lahore, and he and his family had to flee from the city. After the partition of India into India and Pakistan in 1947, he moved to Delhi, and then to Bombay (Mumbai), where his first production Karwat, came in 1948, but it turned out to be a flop. His first film as a director, Afsana was released in 1951. It was a hit and had Ashok Kumar in a double role.There was no turning back from then on. Eventually he also made Chandni Chowk in 1954, with Meena Kumari in the lead. In 1955, B.R. formed his own production house. His first movie from this production house was the highly successful Naya Daur (1957) starring Dilip Kumar and Vyjayantimala Bali, the film became a golden jubilee hit. B.R. was instrumental in developing the career of singer Mahendra Kapoor (who also died recently), and employed him in most of his movies. (Director-producer Yash Choprâ, a brother of B.R., cast Mahendra Kapoor’s son in Fasle). B.R.’s foray into television led to Mahabharat, one of the most successful TV serials in Indian television history. He is survived by his son, Ravi Chopra, also a filmmaker and two daughters. He has won a long list of awards: 1962: Filmfare Best Director Award: Kanoon 1998: Dâdâsâheb Phâlke Award 2003: Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award 2008: Phalke Ratna Award by the Dadasaheb Phalke Academy. As a Director-Producer he was associated with Naya Daur (1957), Sadhana (1958), Kanoon (1961), Gumrah (1963), Humraaz (1967), Dastaan (1972), Dhund (1973), Karm (1977), Pati Patni Aur Woh (1980), Insaaf Kâ Taraazoo (1980), Nikaah (1982), Awaam (1987), Kal Ki Awaaz (1992). As a Director he was associated with Afsaanaa (1951), Chaandni Chowk (1954), Ek Hi Rasta (1956), Tawaif (1985). As a Producer he was associated with Dhool Kaa Phool (1959), Dharm Putra (1962), Waqt (1965), Ittefaq (1969), AAdmi Aur Insaan (1970), Zameer (1975), Chhoti Si Baat (1976), The Burning Train (1980), Agnee Pareeksha (1982), Mazdoor (1983), Aaj Ki Awaaz (1984), Kirayedaar (1986), Dahleez (1986), Pratigyaabadh (1991), Baaghbaan (2003) and Baabul (2006). All fans and lovers of social, family oriented, purposeful Hindi films, will surely miss the maestro B R Chopra. May his soul rest in peace.
J S Broca, New Delhi Nov 08, 2008