B.R.Chopra made socially relevant films
Mumbai (PTI): Substance was the hallmark of B R Chopra's films but the legendary filmmaker who passed away here on Wednesday at the age of 94 always 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.
"you have no experience in filmmaking or direction and you expect me to hand over my career to you who has no knowledge of direction and at a time when I am on top?" asked Ashok Kumar when he met the aspiring filmmaker.
But later the novice filmmaker impressed the film star with his script.
Chopra's off beat Meena Kumari-starer 'Ek Hi Raasta' (1956) saw him ascending in his career. Chopra's professional life entered its best phase with the Dilip Kumar-Vyjayantimala starer super hit movie 'Naya Daur' (1957).
The film won tremendous pre-release publicity when its previous actress Madhubala refused to shoot at an outdoor location. This prompted Chopra to take the actress to court. Perhaps inspired by such real life legal battle, the courtroom became a steady fixture in his films the songless 'Kanoon', 'Waqt', Dastaan or 'Insaaf ka Taraazu'.
In 1959, B R gave younger brother Yash Chopra, a chance to direct 'Dhool Ka Phool' Thereafter he entrusted the direction of major productions like 'Waqt', 'Aadmi aur Insan' to Yash. When Yash left B R to start his own production company in the 70s, B R was shattered.
"I was on sleeping pills for six month's because it destroyed my dreams of a joint family," he was quoted as saying.
Besides, professional life was also not good with his films 'Dastaan' (1972), 'Karm' (1977) flopping. But his comedy flick 'Patni patni aur Woh' (1978) put smile back on Chopra's face.
Later films like 'Awaam' and 'Burning Train' failed at the box office but divine intervention came in the form of record breaking success of 'Mahabharat' on small screen.