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B R Chopra

Film veteran B R Chopra has never shied away from making path-breaking cinema.

india Updated: Oct 17, 2003 14:18 IST

Baldev Raj Chopra came to Mumbai from Lahore after the partition of India, a victim of communal riots of 1947, his house having been burnt down. Chopra initially edited a film journal Cine Herald before turning to filmmaking.

His first film Afsana (1951) a tale of mistaken identity with Ashok Kumar in a double role was a commercial success and B.R. Chopra was on his way.

With Ek Hi Raasta (1956) he launched his production company B.R. Films. Success after success followed - Naya Daur (1957), Sadhana (1958), Dhool ka Phool (1959) - his brother Yash Chopra's directorial debut, Kanoon (1960), Gumrah (1963), Hindi cinema's first multi-starrer Waqt (1965) - directed by Yash Chopra and Humraaz (1967). consolidated the Chopras' position further.

Chopra has always endeavoured to make socially relevant films, while catering to popular sentiment. In Naya Daur, in which a traditional rural community is threatened with modernism and mechanism, Chopra perceives the latter as evil and in the climax has his protagonist, a horse carriage driver, defeat an automobile in a race! To his credit, Chopra even carries off the ludicrous idea with some degree of panache.

He has also done several films that were regarded as bold and ahead of their times. He dared to try a songless film with a hard-hitting suspense courtroom drama; Kanoon showed a woman resuming her affair with her lover after she is married in Gumraah; produced a film Ittefaq (1969), in which the heroine is an adulteress and murders her husband with the help of her lover and in Dhund (1973) a woman married to a paralytic husband takes on a lover.

However the ending of all these films are in keeping with the more popular norms of the day. In Gumraah the woman finally chooses to live with her husband, while in Ittefaq the woman kills her self as repentance.

Chopra continued to make films in the 1970s and 80s and tasted success with Insaaf ka Taraazu (1980), and Nikaah (1982). His son Ravi did try to keep the B.R. Banner going but the films directed by him barring a stray Aaj ki Awaaz (1984) have not done particularly well at the box-office.

Today B.R. Films has diversified into television and among other programmes has made Mahabharat, based on the great Indian epic, which perhaps was the most popular serial ever in the history of Indian television.

B.R. Chopra has for long been the Hindi film industry's senior spokesman and was awarded the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for his contribution to Indian Cinema in 1999.

Following is the list of his films being screened at the IFFI 2003 as part of the Indian retrospective section:

Naya Daur
Dhool Ka Phool
Dharam Putra

First Published: Oct 10, 2003 18:01 IST