Baldev Raj Chopra, famously known as BR Chopra, was a producer and director of Bollywood movies and television serials and he is best known for films like Naya Daur (1957), Sadhna (1958) and Mahabharat (1988). Bollywood celebrated the renowned director and producer’s 106th birthday on 22nd April 2020.

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Baldev Raj Chopra Biography

Baldev Raj Chopra was born on 22nd April 1914 in Rahon, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar district in the state of Punjab. Chopra’s father, Vilayati Raj Chopra, was an employee of the Public Works Department. Chopra studied at the University of Punjab in Lahore and had received an M.A. in English Literature. His first job was a film journalist in 1944 for Cine Herald, a film-monthly publication based out of Lahore. Later, he took over the magazine and ran it until 1947. It was in 1947, that he launched his first film Chandni Chowk, which was written by I.S. Johar and starred Naeem Hashmi and Erika Rukhshi. The film never made it to the finishing line as riots broke out in Lahore as the production of the movie was to start. The 1974 riots forced BR Chopra to flee from Lahore along with his family and move to Delhi after the partition of India. Later, to establish a career in the cinema industry, Chopra moved to Mumbai.

On 5 November 2008, Chopra took his last breath at the age of 98 in Mumbai.

Baldev Raj Chopra Top Hits

His first film as a producer was Karwat, which began in 1948 and was a commercial flop. He made his directorial debut with the film Afsana in 1951. The movie starred Ashok Kumar in a double role and was BR Chopra’s first hit, making him a recognisable name in Bollywood. As a renewed attempt on a clean slate, Chopra made Chandni Chowk, with Meena Kumari as a lead, in 1954. 1955 marked as an important year for the producer-director as he formed his own production studio, B.R. Films. B.R. Film’s first move was the film Ek Hi Raasta, a highly successful film that released in the year 1956. It was followed by Naya Daur (1957), starring Dilip Kumar and Vyjayantimala, which became a golden jubilee hit. All his subsequent releases were highly successful films which included names like Kanoon (1960), Gumrah (1963), and Hamraaz (1967). He became one of the biggest directors in Bollywood and in 1963, he was invited as a member of the jury at the 13th Berlin International Film Festival. After 1972, the films that he directed explored a variety of genres and themes. He directed suspense thrillers like Dhundh (1973), drama like Karma (1977), comedies like Pati Patni Aur Woh (1978), crime films like Insaan Ka Tarazu (1980), and political thriller like Awam (1987).

Along with being a popular director, Chopra also has a successful stint as a producer. He was a producer of popular films like Dhool Ka Phool (1959), Waqt (1965), Aadmi Aur Insaan (1970) and Ittefaq (1969), films that were directed by his younger brother Yash Chopra. He was also the producer of films directed by his son, Ravi Chopra, which included titles like The Burning Train (1980), Aaj ki Awaaz (1984), Mazdoor (1983), Baghban (2003), Baabul (2006)and Bhootnath (2008).

Chopra was a major advocate of playback singer, Mahendra Kapoor and he was instrumental in developing the singer’s career. While all his contemporaries made films with a majority of songs sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi, B.R. Chopra took a different route as he kept a relatively low number of songs sung by his favourite singers Asha Bhonsle and Mahendra Kapoor. Incidentally, both Kapoor and Chopra died within a short span of time, little longer than a month, with Kapoor dying before Chopra in 2008.

While he has a classic run in Bollywood, he had a similar tale while working with the television industry. He forayed into television with Mahabharat, one of the highly successful TV serials in Indian television history, which was co-directed by Ravi Chopra and starred Nitish Bharadwaj in the role of Krishna. Other TV serials that he produced included a series on Bahadur Shah Zafar, Kanoon (1993), Aap Beeti (2001-2004), Ramayana (2001-2002), Vishnu Puran (2000) and Ma Shakti (2002-2003).

Baldev Raj Chopra Awards

BR Chopra is the recipient of Padma Bhushan from the Government of India, the third-highest civilian award in the Republic of India, in 2001. He has received 3 National Film Awards. In 1960, he won the Certificate of Merit for the Best Feature Film in Hindi for his film Kanoon. In 1961, he received the President’s Silver Medal for the Best Feature Film in Hindi as a producer for the movie Dharmputra. In 1998, he won the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for his contribution to the Indian cinema. He has two Filmfare awards to his credit – Filmfare Best Director Award in 1962 for the film Kanoon and Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003 for his outstanding contribution to Indian cinema. In 1998, he received the Kalakar Award for Lifetime Achievement in Bollywood and in 2008, he received the Phalke Ratna Award by the Dadasaheb Phalke Academy.

Baldev Raj Chopra Personal Life

BR Chopra was married to Prakash Chopra, and together they had one son, Ravi Chopra, and two daughters, Shashi and Neena. Shashi is married to filmmaker Raj Tilak. BR Chopra is the member of the Chopra-Johar Family. His brother, Yash Chopra is a Bollywood director and producer and his sister, Hiroo Johar is a producer and is married to Yash Johar, a Bollywood film producer. His nephews, Aditya Chopra, Uday Chopra and Karan Johar are also prominent personalities in Bollywood.

Baldev Raj Chopra Death Reason

The filmmaker was not keeping well for a long time and died of prolonged illness on 5th November 2008. He dies at the age of 94 at his residence in suburban Juhu surrounded by his family and friends.

Baldev Raj Chopra Images on India Content Website

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