Prakash Mehra - creator of Bollywood’s ‘angry young man’ (Obituary)

May 17th, 2009 - 5:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Amitabh Bachchan Mumbai, May 17 (IANS) He was the brain behind popular Bollywood coinages like ‘angry young man’ and ‘muqaddar ka sikandar’, and gave Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan his biggest break in “Zanjeer”. Prolific filmmaker Prakash Mehra, who died Sunday, will always be remembered for his blockbuster movies and superhit dialogues.
Born in Bijnore, Uttar Pradesh July 13, 1939, Mehra started his career in the late 1950s as a production controller.

He ventured into filmmaking in 1968 with Shashi Kapoor starrer “Haseena Maan Jayegi” followed by the 1971 hit “Mela”, which starred brothers Feroz and Sanjay Khan. His next was “Samadhi” (1972) with Dharmendra.

But he struck gold at the box office with 1973 action movie “Zanjeer”, which had Amitabh in the main lead. The success of the film made Mehra a name to reckon with as a director and also established Amitabh in filmdom as the ‘angry young man’.

“Zanjeer” laid the foundation for the top director-actor duo team who later teamed up for “Hera Pheri” (1976), “Muqaddar Ka Sikandar” (1978), “Laawaris” (1981), “Namak Halal” (1982), “Sharabi” (1984). Their last film together was “Jaadugar” in 1989.

While the first five proved to blockbusters, the last turned out to be a dud. The failure of the film is also said to have soured the relationship between the two, a rumour that Amitabh effectively belied by visiting the filmmaker while he was in the intensive care unit (ICU) at the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital here.

“Prakash Mehra, the director of some of my most significant and most successful films, lies in the ICU. When I went to him, he had difficulty in recognising me. It is most depressing to see my contemporaries in this way. This wizard of a director, now lying inane and without response, eyes open but closed for all purposes, ventilator breathing for him - just so unimaginable,” Amitabh had posted after his visit on his blog www.bigb.bigadda.com.

Mehra was also visited by Pakistani singer Adnan Sami, as the latter’s father was admitted in the same hospital.

“I walked into Prakash-ji’s ICU to quietly take his blessings. But what do you know! He recognised me in that condition and did the popular hand movement from my song ‘Lift kara de’ with the Big B. It was his utterly endearing gesture of acknowledging me and my love for the movies that he did with the Big B,” Adnan had then told IANS.

Mehra also wielded the megaphone for duds like “Aakhri Daku” (1978), “Zindagi Ek Jua” (1992). His last film was “Bal Bramhachari” (1996), which launched late actor Rajkumar’s son Puru.

In the 1990s his only successful film was “Dalaal” (1993).

In 2006 India Motion Picture Directors Association (IMPDA) honoured him with the Lifetime Achievement and in 2008 he was awarded by the Indian Motion Picture Producers Association.

He was also amongst one of the first Hindi film directors to have joint ventures with Hollwyood filmmakers. He collaborated with director Frank Yandolino for “The God Connection” in the late 1980s. But the project never took off.

Mehra’s health is said to have worsened after his wife’s death over two years back. He died of pneumonia and multiple organ failure at 7.50 a.m. Sunday. He was 69.

“After his wife passed away he has been even more grave. At her ‘chautha’ he was having problems walking,” Amitabh had told a leading daily earlier this month.

Mehra is survived by two sons - Sumeet and Amit.

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