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BR Chopra – The Crusader

Bollywood Insider Picks 10 of the Best BR Chopra Movies

BR Chopra's movies / Image- IMDb

Baldev Raj Chopra, born on April 22, 1914, started his career as a journalist, which is perhaps why when he became a writer, producer and director, he was drawn to social issues which he highlighted in his films, many of which are relevant even today. 

Bollywood Insider picks out 10 of the best!

Ek Hi Raasta (1956)

BR Chopra’s first production made, under his newly-launched banner BR Films, made a strong case for widows at a time when struggled to support their  destitute children and uphold their dignity. The male lead Prakash offers not just solace and shelter to the female lead Malti, the wife of a murdered employee, but a chance to rebuild her shattered life with him. He even accepts her son from her earlier marriage. The film was a Jubilee hit and put society on the road to social change.

 

Film Poster / Image- IMDb

Naya Dour (1957)
 

Film Poster / Image- IMDb

Industrialization and the resultant unemployment it brought along is the underlying theme of this man versus machine plot. The climatic race between a tonga and a bus, preceded by the building of a road, highlights the pressing need for an entre village to unite in the battle for survival. The original black- and-white film was colourised and re-released in 2007. It is just a relevant today when Al is making deep inroads into every industry and robbing many of their livelihood.

Sadhana (1958)

Film Poster / Image- IMDb

It was a gamble to promote the rehabilitation of a fallen woman in the 50’s when Indian society was disparagingly conservative but Leela Chitnis, accepts Vyjayanthimala who plays Champabai as her son’s wife after learning that she’s a nautch giri. The performance bagged the actress and the film’s writer, Makhram Sharma, the Filmfare Award for Best Actress and Best Story.

Dhool Ka Phool (1959)

Film Poster / Image- IMDb

It launched BR Chopra’s younger brother, Yash, who had assisted him on Naya Daur, as a director.  It centers on a Muslim man Abdul Rasheed who fights social pressure to bring up a Hindu boy born of an illicit affair who is disowned by his biological parents. The film was a hit despite touching on the taboo subject of illegitimacy while also breaking down the man made barriers of caste and creed.

Dharmaputra (1961)
 

Film Poster / Image- IMDb

Yash Chopra’s second film as director for his elder brother took the theme of illegitimacy a step forward into the realm of Hindu fundamentalism. Shashi Kapoor, in his first adult role as Dilip Rai is a child of a young Muslim couple born out of wedlock who is lovingly brought up by their Hindu neighbours in the looming shadow of post independence partition. Maybe viewers were not ready for such a hard-hitting film because while Dhool Ka Phool was a commercial hit, Dharmaputra was a debacle. 

Kanoon (1960)

Film Poster / Image- IMDb

This courtroom drama talks about issues that have rarely found their way into mainstream Bollywood. Through the case of Kalidas, who is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and eventually goes on to actually kill the accused, it touches on the loopholes in the law.

Gumrah (1963)
 

Film Poster / Image- IMDb

The film was really bold at the time with its heroine, Mala Sinha willingly being drawn into an extramarital affair with her former lover, Sunil Dutt, and how this illicit relationship puts her in the clutches of a blackmailer and almost compels her to commit a murder. While there is a delightful twist, the story was an eye-opener for many young women.

Aadmi Aur Insaan (1969)
 

Film Poster / Image- IMDb

Another Yash Chopra directorial for his brother this love triangle not only underlines the sharp divide between employer and employee in our society, but also the rut that was beginning to set in. The film, mirroring its title, makes a plea for Integrity and humanity.

Nikaah (1971)
 

Film Poster / Image- IMDb

On July 30, 2019, the Parliament of India declared the practice of triple talaq illegal and unconstitutional, and a punishable act from August 1. Almost 40 years before this landmark judgement, BR Chopra had raised his voice against the misuse of the Sharia law in Nikaah.
The film was revolutionary in giving its leading lady, a conservative Muslim girl, a voice an she can protest against the way women were treated as commodities, to be owned, discarded and traded by their husbands.

Baghban (2003)

Film Poster / Image- IMDb

This 2003 film was co- written and produced by BR Chopra, and directed by his son Ravi. The story came to him during a trip to Europe in the sixties. The hotel he was staying in was next to retirement home and a tale of abandonment and woe, narrated by one of the aged couples there, inspired the film. He wrote the screenplay during a vacation in Lonavala in 1973 in 14 hours straight.

Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini play the elderly parents, who are neglected, ill-treated and torn apart by their children when they are unable to pay for their upkeep. Till a book turns the tables on them.

Baghban is a lesson for all couples not to splurge all their earnings on their children, but to have enough in the bank for a comfortable and dignified life in their twilight years.

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