Remembering Baldev Raj Chopra (B.R. Chopra) the legendary filmmaker on his 104th birth anniversary.
Baldev Raj Chopra (B. R. Chopra) (22 April 1914–5 November 2008) was a director and producer of Bollywood movies and television serials. Best known for making Hindi films like Naya Daur (1957), Sadhna (1958), Kanoon (1961), Gumrah (1963) and Humraaz (1967) and the TV series, Mahabharat in the late 1980s, he was awarded the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1998.
His younger brother Yash Chopra, son Ravi Chopra and nephew Aditya Chopra are also directors in the Bollywood industry. His nephew Uday Chopra is an actor and producer.
Chopra was born in Ludhiana, India, the son of Vilayati Raj Chopra, an employee of the PWD. He was the second of several siblings; one of his brothers is the film-maker Yash Chopra, and among his sisters is Hiroo Johar, wife of the film-maker Yash Johar.
“B.R.” received an M.A. in English literature from University of the Punjab in Lahore. He started his career in 1944 as a film journalist with Cine Herald, a film-monthly published in Lahore, he later took over the magazine and ran it until 1947. In the same year, he launched a film with a story by I. S. Johar, Chandni Chowk. Naeem Hashmi was hero of this movie and Erika Rukhshi was the heroine. Just as 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. He later moved to Mumbai, where his first production, Karwat, began in 1948, though it turned out to be a flop. His first film as a director, Afsana, was released in 1951 and featured Ashok Kumar in a double role — the film was a hit and established his name in Bollywood. Chopra made Chandni Chowk, with Meena Kumari as a lead, in 1954. In 1955, B.R. formed his own production house, B.R Films. His first movie for this production house was the highly successful Naya Daur (1957) starring Dilip Kumar and Vyjayantimala Bali, the film became a golden jubilee hit. In 1963, he was a member of the jury at the 13th Berlin International Film Festival.
B.R. was instrumental in developing the career of singer Mahendra Kapoor, whom he employed in most of his movies. (Director-producer Yash Chopra cast Mahendra Kapoor’s son in Faasle.) One prominent thing about B. R. Chopra is the relatively low number of songs sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi in his films, with Asha Bhosle and Mahendra Kapoor being his preferred singers. The reason behind this was never revealed by him or the singers.
B.R. forayed into television with Mahabharat, one of the most successful TV serials in Indian television history. Nitish Bharadwaj played the role of Krishna in that series. Another of his memorable TV dramas is Bahadur Shah Zafar.
He died in Mumbai at the age of 94 on 5 November 2008, survived by his son, Ravi Chopra, and two daughters.