‘My name is Prem, Prem Chopra’—India’s favourite villain is more than a Bollywood bad boy

Much like Britain’s fictional suave spy James Bond, Prem Chopra’s distinct introduction within the 1973 movie Bobby resonated with thousands and thousands of followers. The movie introduced him worldwide recognition when it turned one of many prime 20 greatest blockbusters of all time within the erstwhile Soviet Union.

“Prem naam hai mera…Prem Chopra (My identify is Prem…Prem Chopra),” turned the long-lasting strains that catapulted this dapper actor from a small Himalayan city to prompt stardom. Greatest identified for his distinctive fashion of performing, Chopra’s approach of dealing with villain roles in movies like Upkar (1967) and Do Raaste (1969), to call a number of, included components of manipulation and treacherous superficial sweetness. His interpretation of the characters added color and texture to the movies.

On the age of 87, he stays one of many pillars of Bollywood. Introduced up in Shimla, Chopra grew up with a powerful urge for food for theatre and each Hindi and English cinema. His father wished him to grow to be an IAS officer, however performing was his calling. His ardour for the stage aligned with Shimla’s sturdy theatre motion. He acted in a number of performs throughout his school years and after commencement, moved to the intense lights of Bombay to courtroom Bollywood.

Whereas working within the circulation division of the Occasions of India, Chopra would make preparations with brokers in different states to get them to go to him on the practice station as an alternative of an workplace. This manner, a 20-day tour was minimize to simply 12, and saved him sufficient time to go to movie studios, the place he would typically linger within the hope of catching a break.

Bollywood opened its arms to the aspiring actor in 1960, within the type of his debut movie, Mud Mud Ke Na Dekho. Whereas the movie didn’t do effectively, Chopra nonetheless managed to bag the lead function in Punjabi movie Chaudhary Karnail Singh, which was launched the identical 12 months and received a nationwide award for greatest characteristic movie in Punjabi.

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Bollywood’s favorite villain

Prem Chopra’s versatility as an actor is extraordinary. He has acted in near 400 movies. “The villain modified by way of the a long time, reflecting the socio-economic circumstances of every period. The ‘50s’ munim gave strategy to the ‘60s’ dacoit who stepped apart for the ‘70s’ smuggler who fell by the wayside for the ‘80s’ politician, who to his credit score, nonetheless reigns sturdy,” he remembers in Prem Naam hai mera, Prem Chopra, a memoir written by his daughter, Rakita Nanda.

He has shared the display with Bollywood superstars like Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand, Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan, however carved his personal area of interest as the highest villain. “The turning level was enjoying the villain in Raj Khosla’s ‘Woh Kaun Thi?’ (1964) and Sukhdev, a gray character in Manoj Kumar’s ‘Shaheed’ (1965),” he instructed the Occasions of India in a 2019 interview. However it was solely by 1967 when he was “doing double shifts” that he felt for the primary time he might settle in Mumbai.

From Ajnabee (1974) to Souten (1983), Chopra and Rajesh Khanna went on to make 19 movies collectively, of which 15 had been field workplace hits.

Because the quintessential Bollywood villain, Chopra was typically anxious about how his youngsters would understand him each time he bought crushed up on display by ‘offended younger man’ Amitabh Bachchan. In his biography, Chopra says that his youngsters had been continually reminded their father solely performed the ‘unhealthy man’ in movies and that they shouldn’t consider what they see on display.

Chopra reveals in an interview with Filmfare in regards to the time he obtained compliments from ladies watching his films as a result of they discovered him extra good-looking than the heroes.

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Greater than a ‘unhealthy boy’

I understand how to exhume the hearth I began.” This dialogue from Kati Patang (1969) compliments Chopra’s relationship along with his spouse Uma and his three daughters Rakita, Punita and Prerana. Uma, Krishna Raj Kapoor’s sister, was already cognisant of how the movie business functioned and understood the professionalism her husband had with the actresses—one thing an outsider wouldn’t fairly have grasped.

His daughters had their share of apprehensions about their father’s roles in movies, however by no means felt embarrassed. Rakita, in an interview with Rediff.com, revealed how she and her sisters would really feel depressed seeing their father ‘die’ in a movie. However Chopra would at all times make it a degree to take a seat down and clarify how play performing labored, typically taking them on visits to indicate how one scene required 4 to 5 takes. Prem Chopra is a loving grandfather to half a dozen grandchildren.

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Responding to dying rumours

In late July earlier this 12 months, there have been pretend experiences of Prem Chopra’s dying sending shockwaves by way of social media platforms and information channels that thrived on sensationalism. It was to such an extent that the actor was being bombarded with messages and calls. In an interview with The Financial Occasions, the actor responded that he’s doing effectively and completely hale and hearty. He reacted that someone was ‘deriving sadistic pleasures’ by spreading these rumours.

At 87, Prem Chopra the actor continues to be evolving and is seen in constructive roles over the previous decade in movies resembling Rocket Singh: Salesman of the 12 months (2009), Golmaal 3 (2010) and Bunty Aur Babli 2 (2021).

(Edited by Zoya Bhatti)

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