Legendary filmmaker B.R. Chopra is arguably the 'Architect of Indian Cinema' and a torchbearer of cinema that is not just entertaining but a platform to reform society. He initiated a new brand of cinema that was an amalgamation of both commercial and parallel cinema. His legacy continues till date and is very much alive in contemporary filmmakers like Rajkumar Hirani, Kabir Khan and others.
A journalist turned filmmaker B.R. Chopra believed, "Being a journalist at heart I feel Cinema too is a mirror of society. Hence it is the responsibility of filmmakers to make films that have a social message besides being entertaining."
Thus Chopra always dwelt on subjects that were either taboo or those that the society kept behind the door. Readers would be surprised to know that Chopra made AFSANA (1951), a film on extramarital affair, in the early fifties when the Indian society was still in the cradle. The movie dared to tackle the sensational issue of an unfaithful wife betraying her aged husband and having illicit relation with her young boyfriend.
Later in the 60's Chopra repeated the subject of infidelity in GUMRAH (1963) but with a difference. Here Chopra tried to sympathize with the unfortunate lovers who are separated by societal constrain and suggested a beautiful solution through the song...
Voh afsaana jise anjaam tak laanaa na ho mumkin
Use ek khuubsuurat mod de kar chhodna achhaa
(That tale which cannot culminate in a conclusion, It is best to give it a beautiful turn and leave it behind.)
Besides infidelity Chopra also touched forbidden subjects like rehabilitation of prostitutes in SADHNA. The song from the movie - Aurat ne janam diya mardon ko; Mardon ne use bazaar diya … (Woman gave birth to men; And men gave her brothel) moves even a stone hearted soul to tears.
Thus in a career spanning six decades Chopra used the celluloid as a mean to transform society. Some of his hard-hitting revolutionary movies include EK HI RAASTA (widow-remarriage), NAYA DAUR (Tug of war between man and machine); DHOOL KA PHOOL (illegitimate child born out of wedlock), KANOON (Raised questions on Capital Punishment), INSAAF KA TARAZU (Demanding stringent punishment for rapist) and above all NIKAH, in which he gave a tight slap to male chauvinist society putting across the message that a wife is the better half of a person and not an object to be gifted to others!
While Chopra was the master of social drama he was also the king of commercial 'masala' movies. Stunned?
Well after grooming his younger brother, the intelligent filmmaker, Yash Chopra, B.R.Chopra made some different kind of movies like WAQT (1965), an action packed complete entertainer. The highlight of the film is that it is India's First Multi Starrer featuring top six stars in the lead roles viz. Raaj Kumar, Sunil Dutt, Shashi Kapoor, Sharmila Tagore, Sadhna and Balraj Sahni. Other commercial movies directed by Yash Chopra include AADMI AUR INSAAN (1970), ITEFAQ (1969), etc.
Besides such commercial movies Yash Chopra also directed the thought provoking National Award winning film DHARAMPUTRA (1961), based on the sensitive issue of Hindu- Muslim unity. The movie is very much relevant even in today's era.
With the advent of satellite revolution B.R. Chopra's foray into television serial production is also commendable. In mid 80's his religious magnum opus MAHABHARATA depicted the complicated holy epic with such simplicity that everybody be a Hindu, Muslim or any other religion watched the serial with equal enthusiasm.
Winner of 'Dada Sahib Phalke Award, Indian Cinema's ultimate honour, Mr. B.R. Chopra is adorned by the title of 'Movie Moghul' by cinema fraternity.
Chopra continued his trademark Chopra stamp of social movies in 2000 too, at the ripe age of 90 plus, with hit films like Amitabh Bachchan starrers BAGBAAN (2003) and BAABUL (2006 film).
B.R. Chopra breathed his last on Nov 5, 2008 at the age 94. Glamsham.Com salutes the Movie Mogul on his birth anniversary.
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