Prakash Mehra- An Emotional Filmmaker
(Creator of Angry Young Man)
1973- This year must have been a remarkable one for the Bachchan who got his first solo hit in the form of Zanjeer, it rather became a SUPER HIT.....
Zanjeer (1973) was Amitabh Bachchan's 17th release in just four years of working. But, he couldn't give a single solo hit. The film established Amitabh Bachchan as the Angry Young Man. All this while there was one name who did wonders which none of the 13 directors (of the 16 films which Bachchan worked before) could do.
This person was Prakash Mehra. A Filmmaker....!!!
Born in Bijnore, Uttar Pradesh July 13, 1939, Prakash Mehra began as a production controller in the late 50s and made his debut at the age of 29 in 1969 as a director for the film "Haseena Maan Jayegi" which starred Shashi Kapoor, Babita, Ameeta and Johnny Walker. This was followed by a hit film "MELA" starring the late Feroz Khan and his brother Sanjay Khan. This was followed by another film. And, in 1973, Zanjeer became a Super Hit. Originally, Dev Anand was considered as the lead actor for Zanjeer, but Jaya Bachchan begged Prakash Mehra to give Amitabh Bachchan this film and rest is history.
They both gave 6 more films in the next 16 years and established Amitabh Bachchan as a leading actor and also Prakash Mehra as a leading Director & Producer of 70’s and 80’s.
Some other films of Prakash Mehra inlcude
Haath Ki Safai (1974)
Hera Pheri (1976)
Muqaddar Ka Sikander (1978)
Namak Halaal (1982)
Zindagi Ek Jua (1992)
Bal Brahmachari (1996) [last film as a director]
Prakash Mehra was one of the first Bombay directors to try venture into Hollywood. In the late eighties he tried a joint venture to make a movie The God Connection with Frank Yandolino. The movie was to include Hollywood actors such as Charles Bronson among others, but the project though funded heavily initially, never materialized.
Prakash Mehra was a person who was emotionally connected to films and his family. His wife died after staying in coma for many years. In an interview, he stated that Amitabh Bachchan betrayed him. He stated that Amitabh Bachchan knew that Jaadugar (last film of Prakash and Amitabh) and Manmohan Desai’s Toofan were similar to each other and were being made at same time. Toofan released before Jaadugar and hence, Jaadugar became a big flop and ended the 7 film long journey which went on for 16 years.
Prakash Mehra was questioned once that has the industry been in touch with him. And his reply – “Our film industry is practical and professional, rather, shamelessly practical and professional. Pramod Chakraborty, Arjun Hingorani, Shakti Samanta and I were a group. We used to meet every day at Pramod’s place after work, and bounce off ideas. It’s all scattered now. We have lost touch. Shakti has settled in Kolkata, Pramod is in the US. Those were the days...”
He met Amitabh Bachchan once after Jaadugar when he called him home for a film around 2000, the time when Bachchan made a comeback with KBC. Bachchan liked the idea but politely rejected it.
Amitabh was among the first ones to visit him. Mehra's health went into a decline after his wife fell into a coma that lasted a few years. Later after the death of his wife, the filmmaker's condition worsened. 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 recognized 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 Sami
'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 recognizing 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.
Prakash Mehra as said earlier was emotionally connected to his family and films so he could never give a big hit outside Amitabh Bachchan after he betrayed him. It is tragic that a person who got successful at a younger age had to see this as his ending.
Prakash Mehra died on 17th May 2009 after a prolong illness and multiple organ failure.
May his soul rest in peace
The Industry will always miss you.
Bikram Singh Bathh