BR Chopra had Dr Rahi Masoom Reza write the dialogues for the serial, making it a perfect advertisement for the secular nature of filmmaking
BR Chopra had Dr Rahi Masoom Reza write the dialogues for the serial, making it a perfect advertisement for the secular nature of filmmaking

Being active over a period of five decades, straddling across various sectors of the entertainment industry from feature films to television and making a notable contribution everywhere is a milestone which many do not have in Indian cinema. Baldev Raj Chopra (1914-2008) enjoyed this distinction for the long tenure that he managed to stay and work for the cause of Hindi cinema. He was born on April 22, 104 years ago.

Although ‘Naya Daur’ starring Dilip Kumar and Vyjayanthimala Bali was the first film, which catapulted him into the top league in 1957, Chopra was already sailing by then as his first film with Ashok Kumar – ‘Afsana’ – six years ago was a success. Nothing stopped him for the variety which he offered in the 60s and 70s with a song-less film ‘Kaanoon’; ‘Gumrah’, a tale of marital discord and a suspense thriller ‘Humraaz’. 

The following decade, he mixed his ventures alternating between comedy, family dramas and suspense which are remembered till date. The top stars of the era were all working for him, beginning with Ashok Kumar and continuing till Sanjeev Kumar, who stood tall among the Bachchan era films of the 1970s.

In the 1980s, with the film industry staring at a crisis of sorts as sponsored serials and video cassettes began denting its box office fortunes, Chopra found himself launching India’s first mega mythological serial ‘Mahabharat’ and making it a humongous success. He had the maverick writer, Dr Rahi Masoom Reza write the dialogues for the serial, making it a perfect advertisement for the secular nature of filmmaking, which has continued to be the mainstay of Hindi cinema.

The current generation of movie watchers with a love for family fare will not forget the 2003 hit  ‘Baghban’, which he produced and was directed by his son Ravi Chopra. The heart-tugging emotion between the father and the sons and how the twists of fate make the parents endure many pressures is a repeat hit in television channels even today. 

Sadly, the film ‘Baabul’ released in 2006 to commemorate the 50 years of BR Chopra Productions did not make it as a success, thereby highlighting the unpredictability that the celluloid world is.