November 5, 2008

BR Chopra: One of the best directors in Bollywood

BR Chopra on the right

I was really saddened yesterday when I learned BR Chopra passed away, he was a revolutionary director who founded his own production company BR Films, he also entered a partnership with his brother Yash Chopra, producing his earlier movies such as Aadmi aur Insaan, Dharmputra, Waqt and many more. I'll list some of my favorites of his movies that I've watched
  1. Afsana: A great entertainer with Ashok Kumar playing twins the good and evil one,
    this was BR's first big budget movie, and he had to do a lot of persuading for Ashok to do the role. He infused some gray shades to the bad twin as he feels remorse for hurting his good brother and repents after. A conscientious movie with some masala entertainment
  2. Gumrah: A great and sensual movie about adultey, the very backwass Bewafaa with Kareena Kapoor was a remake of this, it was crap but Gumrah was great. The Chopra's are skilled and innovative in talking about taboos, this was one of the major movies talking about adultery, with Sunil Dutt playing the affair guy, and Mala Sinha as the conflicted wife married to an older man.
  3. Hamraaz: A brilliant noir thriller with BR's fsvorite stars Sunil Dutt and Raaj Kumar, pitted against each other as romantic rivals involved in a murder mystery, also starring the very bland Vimmi, BR did like to welcome newcomers in his movies, and Vimmi was one starlet that he introduced. He has the penchant for style and this was a stylish 60's movie, with funky houses and gorgeous location and fashion.
  4. Naya Daur: One of the greatest movies ever, capturing the rustic and the urban as they collide in this social film with Vjayantimala and Dilip Kumar, this movie was recently coloured and it made it a little over the top like the new Mughal-E-Azam, nevertheless it enhanced its appeal to newer viewers when it was re-released. BR always must of have had great persuasive skills, as Dilip thought he was to different to play a rustic villager character in the movie, but the rest is history as he agreed!
  5. Nikaah: Another movie where BR introduced a terrible heroine is when he intro'd Salma Agha who reportedly got the role after her distant "uncle" Raj Kapoor persuaded BR to take her on. My mum likened her to a "dead fish" not the greatest insult, but she lacked charisma and had a very expressionless face. But BR did something innovative by tackling the Muslim social movie, and he talks about sex and divorce in this movie in a open and frank way, which got the ire of the Muslim community. It was a well made film, nuanced with BR traits --> the massive house, the realistic presentation of love, and the taboo breaking theme.
  6. Insaaf Ka Tarazu: This was a huuuge movie for breaking taboo, it talked about rape and sex. Zeenat Aman was the murderess and its a great movie for breaking out the issues that concerned women, and though I look it now as a bit OTT, it does raise an issue, and I think that is what BR wanted in any of his movies, to spark some sort of dialogue and debate.
  7. Ek Hi Raasta: Another feminine movie, where Ashok marries the weeping widow Meena Kumari to stop the gossips and nasty neighbours trying to kick her out. This was another issue raising movie, about widow remarriage and more importantly about how kids deal with step-father and family, Daisy Irani was a brattish child in this movie, and she featured as a kid in many BR movies. This was also the movie that catapulted Sunil Dutt into the big league of Bollywood with a sensitive and sweet performance as Meena's first hubby!
BR Chopra movies make up most of my DVD collection, he is a director that connected with the people, he was innovative and barrier and taboo-breaking in his long career. He got his brother Yash started in the industry by producing his movies, he focused many of his movies on women's issues, and dammit he was soo revolutionary in his movies, at least i think so! He will sorely missed by the industry and his fans. RIP


ajnabi said...

Hey, how come I've never heard of Ek Hi Raasta before? Anyway, sad news about Mr. Chopra. :-(

Anonymous said...

He made such great feminist films, and early ones too. My very favorite of his is 1958's Sadhna with Vyjayantimala and Sunil Dutt. Beautiful music, great story :-)

Rum said...

ajnabi- ek hi raasta is a very 1950's movie with drama, crying, but it atleast raises an issue!

memsaab- I walked past that movie when i got Afsana at the video store, so i must check it out, I love that he was a director unafraid of tackling the feminist issues and handling it with sensitivity

Anonymous said...

I am shocked at this news! B.R. Chopra was one of the best directors and they have been passed away. :(

Rum said...

bollywood lover - I know, I was taken aback by the news coz he seemed so friendly and nice on the interviews on the yash raj dvds, so sad!

bollywooddeewana said...

This is a great post on B.R. i've long been a fan too and i have most of his movies, i liked Kanoon a lot which i think you would enjoy