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THE CHOPRA BROTHERS - B. R. CHOPRA & YASH CHOPRA - Two of the key 'Trend-Setters' and 'Mind-Changers' in the Hindi Film Industry since the 1950s. (A brief account by Bobby Sing) (Part One)
22 Oct, 2012 | Articles on Cinema

The sudden demise of Yash Chopra, just few days before the release of his new directorial venture was no doubt a shocking news both for the industry people as well as for his fans. But several news headings, channel clips, tweets and posts all over the social networks with few repeated words forcibly made me think that it’s simply not acceptable to tag a director like Yash Chopra, just as “The King of Romance” or “The God of Love” putting him in a particular bracket only, ignoring many other important aspects associated with his films, without giving it a thought. 
The veteran surely redefined the way this four letter word called LOVE was portrayed on the Indian silver screen without any doubt. But his creations along with the gems made by his elder brother were a lot more than just fabulous love stories, saying the same things in a repeated mode. And this valuable truth needs to be told to the present generation in order to give them a broader vision of the diversified masterpieces made by “The Chopra Brothers”.
Taking you back in those years, the real visionary behind the present day phenomenon called YASH CHOPRA was his elder brother BALDEV RAJ CHOPRA (popularly known as B. R. Chopra) who actually introduced Yash Chopra in the field of direction. And the few films they made together in those decades are today considered to be among the most important films ever made in the 100 years histroy of Hindi Cinema, tackling the questionable social issues of our society unarguably.
The eminent producer-director B. R. CHOPRA had a strict viewpoint that Cinema or Film-making is not only about entertaining and making money out of it. He very much believed in the thought that films are in fact the mirror of our own society just equivalent to our Literature. He firmly supported the vision that along with earning money it is the duty of the filmmakers to give some healthy, thoughtful and socially significant films to the viewers from which they can take clues to live a better life in a better society.

The BR Films banner lead by the elder brother had some clear, strong and impactful principles on which they used to make films with a great story to tell having a specific message to the society in particular. However, to keep their burning subject in limits, they always preferred to end their films on a positive note, without disturbing any social norms prevalent in the society. Even when they made films on some explosively controversial subjects they kept it toned down to the acceptable limits along with giving the important message in the end quite impressively.
So here without going into any other details (requiring many more pages) I would just like to give you a glimpse of the diversified subjects “The Chopra Brothers” used to make movies on, as a truly gifted visionaries, before Yash Chopra discovered his own distinct path of becoming a “Love Phenomenon” playing with various aspects of Love in his several films.
Beginning with the year 1956 when B. R. Chopra started his own banner B. R. Films, the very first film which he made was,
EK HI RAASTA (1956) (Produced & Directed by B. R. Chopra) – which talked about the sensitive subject of Widow Remarriage.
(Remember this was a film in the year 1956, just 9 years after our independence exploring this touchy issue challenging the ages old tradition of the country. And now simply study the subjects of their later films.)
NAYA DAUR (1957) (Produced & Directed by B. R. Chopra) – Depicting a man’s fight with the technological changes coming in competition with the manual labour. In simple words it was a strong film made on the conflict between the man and the machine.
SADHNA (1958) (Produced & Directed by B. R. Chopra) – On the burning subject of rehabilitation of Prostitutes in the society itself. And then he used the same subject again in,
TAWAIF (1985) (Produced by R. C. Kumar & Directed by B. R. Chopra) – Now this remake kind of film is quite note-worthy since it clearly indicates that the subject was equally relevant for the ‘never-changing’ society even after three decades of releasing SADHNA.

By this time, B. R. Chopra sensed the capabilities of a genius in his younger brother and thus gave him an independent break in 1959.

DHOOL KA PHOOL (1959) (Produced by B. R. Chopra – Directed by Yash Chopra)
– A thoughtful and touching take on the religious differences in a society and the status of an innocent illegitimate child in it. The film was based on the vision that its not the child who should be called illegitimate for no fault of his. But in reality it’s the parents who need to be punished for this illegitimate act arising out of pure lust.
KANOON (1960) (Produced & Directed by B. R. Chopra) – An ahead of its times, path-breaking, song less, court room drama pointing towards the loop holes of Law and its questionable proceedings. The film was a first of its kind of attempt which was entirely different from what was being made in the country as Hindi Cinema.
DHARMPUTRA (1961) (Produced by B. R. Chopra – Directed by Yash Chopra)
– A powerful film based on the tensions between Hindu & Muslim communities around the partition of the country told with the background of a love story. It was one of those first films made around India’s partition which also lead to some violent instances at its release.
GUMRAH (1963) / HAMRAAZ (1967) / DASTAAN (1972) - (Produced & Directed by B. R. Chopra) – It can be called a trilogy on the subject of adultery and 3 different takes on the plot seeing it from different perspectives of a man and a woman.
WAQT (1965) (Produced by B. R. Chopra – Directed by Yash Chopra)
– A Cult Classic on Hindi Cinema showcasing the power of time and how it can destroy anybody’s Egoistic world in just few seconds. It was the film which gave birth to multi-starrers in Hindi film industry and a new formula of ‘Lost and Found’ as never used before.
AADMI AUR INSAAN (1969) (Produced by B. R. Chopra – Directed by Yash Chopra)
– An emotional take on friendship, love and the inner conscience of a person calling him at the right moment. (Just read the thoughtful title once again)
ITTEFAQ (1969) (Produced by B. R. Chopra – Directed by Yash Chopra)
– An off-beat song less crime-drama featuring Rajesh Khanna in a role which was completely out of sync with his lover-boy image. It was said to be based on an English film “Signpost To Murder“ (1964) and was about a lady who murders her husband with the help of her lover.
DHUND (1973) (Produced & Directed by B. R. Chopra) – Another off-beat murder mystery loosely inspired from Agatha Christie’s play “The Unexpected Guest” with an unusual star-cast.
From here on Yash Chopra went on to his individual path which shattered the dreams of B.R. Chopra of making it big in the industry as a joint family. But as they say, its all for the good because after this sad incident B. R. Chopra made some more socially relevant films on few important subjects and Yash Chopra made his own cult classics mentioned later in this article's part two.
But first let us consider the variety of subjects selected by B.R.Chopra post the 70s which also faced failure as well as criticism of going overboard or plagiarism in few instances. Yet these films remain significantly important for a society as a whole since they bravely questioned the functioning of both the Law and the System like never before on Indian Screen fearlessly.
PATI PATNI AUR WOH (1978) (Produced & Directed by B. R. Chopra) – A hugely enjoyable film which very intelligently gives you a valuable lesson on the importance of family and the tempting “extra marital affairs” one might feel like having in his life after a specific point of time. It was well received and applauded by the audience as a social entertaining movie with a precious family message.
INSAAF KA TARAZU (1980) (Produced & Directed by B. R. Chopra) – One of the most controversial films questioning the law on punishments for Rape, Harassment of Rape victims in the court by lawyers and Rape accused escaping due to many loop holes in the law at that particular point of time, when medical technological developments were still not there. The film was also criticized for plagiarism (inspired from LIPSTICK), its excessively long rape scenes and too provoking content at that time which actually overshadowed its actual message for the society.
NIKAAH (1982) (Produced & Directed by B. R. Chopra) – This was one of the boldest film of its times (in Hindi Cinema) which resulted in a nationwide protest against its thoughtful subject. The film questioned the accepted system of Divorce in Islam which prominently was there in its script and was also used in its promotional campaign heavily. There were many campaigns seen against the movie at that time which actually brought forward the issue raised in it more loudly and widely. Being related with a religious plot, it became hugely famous and then got its due appreciation too from various sectors of the society after the initial storm.

AAJ KI AWAZ (1984) (Produced & Directed by Ravi Chopra) – After two thought provoking ventures, B.R. Films again came with another revolutionary film which fast become the talk of the town in those days due to its fiery treatment and subject. Walking on the similar paths of “Death Wish”, it revolved around a common man who decides to punish the culprits himself after his sister and mother get killed in front of his own eyes. It was a sarcastic take on the faulty system which didn’t care about any common man coming for help in reality. And thus it also was opposed a lot leading to its more popularity in the viewers all over.
After this revolutionary innings in films, B. R. Chopra directed a hugely successful TV series MAHABHARAT, which frankly was never tried before by any one due to its complex structure and large canvas. Later though his son Ravi Chopra was not that successful in most of his directed films, but still he delivered a worth watching and socially relevant film again in 2004 titled BAGHBAN, which was based on a subject suggest by B. R. CHOPRA only, on which he wished to make a film from decades.
So looking at this illustrious account of B. R. Chopra's cinematic journey, it remains an undeniable fact that he was one of those responsible film-makers of India, who made films not just for his monetary gains but for the society itself, as his own contribution towards building a better nation.

And as I feel, we have simply lost that passion and vision of such film-making today in India.
HIS BLESSINGS

(To Be Continued)

(2012 All Rights Reserved – By Bobby Sing at BobbyTalksCinema.com)

Tags : The Chopra Brothers, B. R. Chopra and Yash Chopra,Two of the key 'Trend-Setters' and 'Mind-Changers' since 1950s, Social Film-makers of India, Articles on Cinema in India, Articles on 100 years of Hindi Cinema at bobbytalkscinema.com, Articles on Cinema by Bobby Sing.
22 Oct 2012 / Comments ( 4 )
Chris

Hi, A few points
1.Tawaif was NOT produced by BR Chopra , he only directed it.
2.Gumrah was remade as Dahleez by the same banner.
3.You missed Afsana 1951, was double roles, good - bad brother 'formoola' prevalent in India before that film?
4. You clearly missed Mazdoor and Awam , both are better than Dastaan. Even if they are not as good as BR's earlier work , they do touch some issues not tackled before.
5.Baghban is ripped off from Sanjeev Kumar starrer 'Zindagi'.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0320792/
So after ripping off Marlon Brando and Al Pacino (like Aamir Khan), ripping Sanjeev Kumar should be easy for Amitabh. Aha that reminds me of BR's 'Zameer' copied from Dev Anand's Bambai ka Babu (thankfully it was not serious and decent 'masala' version)
6. Finally, Are Choti si baat, Kirayedar so 'unrealistic' to not get a mention? (I know BR Chopra produced them) and For me 'The Burning Train' is the rare GOOD disaster film India has made. Do we even make 'disaster films'?

Bobby Sing

Hi Chris,
With regards here is my reply to your points mentioned....

1.Tawaif was NOT produced by BR Chopra , he only directed it.
(Thanks for pointing it out and it has been rectified with the right credits)

2.Gumrah was remade as Dahleez by the same banner.
(Since it was based on a similar theme and directed by Ravi Chopra instead, so it was not included in the list.) 

3.You missed Afsana 1951, was double roles, good - bad brother 'formula' prevalent in India before that film?
(I willfully didnt include it as wanted to focus only on the unconventional subjects taken by the veteran which could excite and amaze the readers of all age groups.)

4. You clearly missed Mazdoor and Awam , both are better than Dastaan. Even if they are not as good as BR's earlier work , they do touch some issues not tackled before.
(Mazdoor was not included since it was directed by Ravi Chopra and Awam was not included because it was frankly not in the same league as the veteran's other films (But as you have not pointed out I am thinking that it should have been there). But Dastaan was included only as a part of the trilogy made on the subject of adultery and not alone.)

5.Baghban is ripped off from Sanjeev Kumar starrer 'Zindagi'.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0320792/
So after ripping off Marlon Brando and Al Pacino (like Aamir Khan), ripping Sanjeev Kumar should be easy for Amitabh. Aha that reminds me of BR's 'Zameer' copied from Dev Anand's Bambai ka Babu (thankfully it was not serious and decent 'masala' version)


(Now I am sure you would love reading the following info regarding the above mentioned rip offs.)

Actually both 'Baghbaan' and 'Zindagi' were not original and were entriely based on "Make Way For Tommorow" made in the year 1937.
And this is the article at BTC about the same :
http://www.bobbytalkscinema.com/recentpost.php?postid=postid082210050534

Further as far as 'Zameer' based on 'Bambai Ka Babu' is concerned.......they both were actually based on something else which you will find in the link below at BTC itself :
http://www.bobbytalkscinema.com/recentpost.php?postid=postid060509063147

6. Finally, Are Choti si baat, Kirayedar so 'unrealistic' to not get a mention? (I know BR Chopra produced them) and For me 'The Burning Train' is the rare GOOD disaster film India has made. Do we even make 'disaster films'?

(I agree but the article actually does not include the films directed by any one else other than B. R. Chopra and Yash Chopra)

Keep Visiting and Writing in,
Cheers!
HIS BLESSINGS

Chris
P.S. I made Amitabh copying Brando-Pacino as a 'tongue in cheek ' comment. But it irks me when he does that.
Bobby Sing

Yes Chris, In fact many friends share that same opinion as I have found in many discussions.
Cheers!

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