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    Noted filmmaker B R Chopra passes away

    Mumbai (PTI): Legendary filmmaker Baldev Raj Chopra, better known as B R Chopra died on Wednesday at his residence here following prolonged illness.

    He was 94.

    Chopra was not keeping well for some time and the end came at 0830 hours at his residence in suburban Juhu.

    Chopra, one of India's most respected film personalities is survived by his filmmaker son Ravi Chopra and two daughters.

    The eminent producer-director was the elder brother of filmmaker Yash Chopra.

    The funeral will take place at the Juhu crematorium at 4.30 pm, family sources said.

    The filmmaker was known for converting offbeat stories highlighting socially relevant issues into immortal classics like 'Dhool Ka Phool' (1959), 'Waqt'(1965) and 'Naya Daur' (1957), 'Kanoon' (1958), 'Humraz' (1967), 'Insaf Ka Tarazu' (1980) and 'Nikah' (1982) to name a few.

    Born on 22nd April 1914, in undivided Punjab, Chopra's interest in films started as a movie journalist.

    After partition, he moved to Delhi 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.

    His foray into television led to 'Mahabharat', one of the most successful TV serials in Indian television history.

    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' (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.

    B R made socially relevant films

    Substance was the hallmark of B R Chopra's films but the legendary filmmaker felt that the rise of money and stardom have vitiated the image of Indian cinema.

    The eminent producer-director was of the view that a film is not just about jugglery with money. He believed that a film addresses itself to the society and it is the duty of filmmakers to make healthy and wholesome films, preferably with good story and social significance.

    Chopra practised what he preached. Whether it was adultery (Gumraah), the politics of rape (Insaaf Ka Tarazu), Muslim matrimony laws (Nikaah), rehabilitation of prostitutes (Sadhana), widow remarriage (Ek Hi Raasta), Chopra always had a sharp, clear and effective non-formula tale to tell.

    Baldev Raj Chopra gave great importance to story because he himself had started his career as a writer.

    An MA in English literature, he would have continued to work as a film journalist with the Cine Herald had it not been the partition of India. Post Independence, he came to Mumbai and after a stint in production, made his first directorial venture with 'Afsana' (1951).

    The story was about good and evil featuring twin brothers, both played by Ashok Kumar in a double role. 'Afsana' was a success and Chopra's narrative cohesion was widely admired.

    When Chopra entered the film business after coming from Lahore, he had no experience of filmmaking and did not know how to contact stars.

    He wanted to sign Ashok Kumar for 'Afsana' and had to use the good offices of J P Tiwari, Chairman of Bombay Talkies.



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