Remembering yesteryear Hindi film actor, ‘the ravan of Hindi cinema’, B. M. Vyas on his 97th birth anniversary today.
Brijmohan Vyas, better known as B M Vyas, was born in the Churu district of Rajasthan on October 22, 1920. He remained in Rajasthan until he completed his undergraduate education in Sanskrit, after which he moved to Mumbai, at the behest of his brother.
Vyas had always been interested in music, and once he was in Mumbai, he began taking lessons to hone his skill. In the 1940s, he joined Prithviraj Kapoor’s troupe, Prithvi Theatre, in his capacity as a singer for their first production Shakuntala. Once the work for the play began, Vyas’s knowledge of Sanskrit quickly led him to be recognized as an asset, not just for singing, but also for acting. When the actor originally cast in the role of Dushyant, K N Singh, backed out as he was struggling with several of the Sanskrit lines, Vyas was approached to replace him. He accepted, making Shakuntala his debut in what would grow to be a long acting career.
Vyas remained with Prithvi Theatre for close to ten years, touring the country, and becoming well-appreciated both for his talents as an actor and as a musician. Along with his career in theatre, he also worked on a few movies, and sang playback for the first time in the film Bharthari (1944). In the following years, he recorded songs for a few other films, including Pehle Aap (1944) and Maharana Pratap (1946). His focus, however, had quickly turned to acting, despite the fact that he had initially aspired to become a singer.
While he was working with Prithvi Theatre, Vyas joined Chetan Anand’s India Pictures, a film production company, as a production manager. On the very first film he worked on with them, Neecha Nagar (1946), he also made an appearance on screen in a small role. Some years later, he appeared in Aag (1948) and Barsaat (1949) — films that gave him recognition as an actor on screen, and enabled his acting career to take off.
In a career spanning close to fifty years, Vyas acted in nearly two hundred films including films like ‘Baiju Bawra’, ‘Do Aankhen Barah Haath’ and ‘Sarawasti Chandra’.
One of the roles he is best remembered for is that of Ravan in Babubhai Mistri’s Sampoorna Ramayan (1961). Following his success in portraying the character of the demon in the epic film, he was approached with numerous other mythological and fantasy film projects, including a large number by producer-director Homi Wadia.
Vyas retired from acting in the early nineties. Some of his last projects include films like Maa (1993) and Oh Darling Yeh Hai India (1995). He passed away on March 11, 2013 at the age of 93.