Mumbai, Nov 6 (IANS) Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan remembers legendary filmmaker B.R. Chopra as a firm believer in aesthetics whose films highlighted issues of social and moral conflict.
'He was a pillar of the industry. We've lost a stalwart. The core of humanism and social relevance remained with Chopra saab till the end,' Big B told IANS from Udaipur where he's currently resting.
'Chopra saab and I go back a long way. I've worked for many years with him. When Chopra saab's son Ravi started his career as a director with 'Zameer', I played the lead in it,' he added.
Chopra died here Wednesday after a prolonged illness. The winner of the Dadasaheb Phalke Award was 94.
Amitabh says that his films and television series revealed a novel approach to filmmaking.
'Chopra saab, his brother Yashji and their family have given so much to the industry. Another brother Dharam Chopra was a cinematographer while a fourth brother was into distribution. So it's a family dedicated to cinema. They always believed in aesthetics and not just the commercial viability. One never came away from a B.R. Chopra film without absorbing a social and moral conflict. That's why his films are relevant even today.
'Sadly there's a complete absence of all social relevance in today's cinema. Chopra saab always remained steadfast in his belief that cinema has to have a special message. When Ravi returned to cinema after so many years with 'Baghban' - his idea of honouring one's parents sounded so archaic. But look at the relevance of his film! It was so unbelievable. In fact, B.R. Chopra saab himself wanted to direct it at one time. Again in 'Baabul' they took on the theme of widow remarriage.'
The last film that the Big B did for B.R. Films was 'Bhootnath'.
'A lot of people dismissed it as a children's film. But it was the fifth largest grosser of 2008 alongside 'Singh Is Kinng' and 'Race'. Recently, at the Kids Star Awards 'Bhootnath' was voted the most popular kids' film. I couldn't attend due to my health. But they asked me about the film's popularity. And I said it wasn't me, it was the theme. Chopra saab's films have always brought in the theme of tradition versus modernism.'
Amitabh says B.R. Chopra was open to ideas.
'In 'Bhootnath', the pitra-paksh, the last rites for the parents' soul, was brought in. And I had a hand in it. I suggested the pitra-paksh be incorporated into the script. Yes, that suggestion was incorporated by Chopra saab and his son Ravi. They were always open to ideas.
'Chopra saab valued tradition and culture. He'd always tell Ravi, 'Where's the moral of the story?' Now we're working on another film 'Pocket Maar'. We're 75 percent through with the plot. But I am not happy with where it's going. I can sit with them and sort it out. That's the kind of relationship I shared with Chopra saab and then his son.
'The script is very important for them. For 'Baghban', we wrote 15-16 drafts. We took advice from many people including Javed Akhtar saab. And that's how we came up with the final screenplay. My main idea was - we must not look down on our parents, because they are the ones who bring us up. Such thoughts ran beautifully through Chopra saab's cinema. Such lovely moments are lost in our cinema today.
'I lament this loss. Chopra saab wasn't making movies for the money. He made some of our most relevant movies of our times like 'Naya Daur', 'Dharmputra' and 'Gumrah'. After 'Baghban', many real life parent-child equations changed. I hope Ravi Chopra continues his father's legacy. I'm blessed to have worked with both.'