Prakash Mehra- The Pioneer of Masala Films
Born on 13 July 1939 at Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh, Prakash Mehra started his career in the late 1950s as a production controller.
Prakash Mehra is the director who had a huge role to play in building Amitabh Bachchan’s legendary screen image as the angry young man. When the Amitabh Bachchan-Jaya Bhaduri starrer Zanjeer was released on May 11, 1973, Mehra altered the syllabi of Hindi cinema. This movie smashed every single box office record and created a hero who would soon leave all other top actors of the era behind.
Born on 13 July 1939 at Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh, Prakash Mehra started his career in the late 1950s as a production controller. He tasted directorial success with his early films.
He made the musical super hit Haseena Maan Jayegi in 1968 with Shashi Kapoor (in double role), and gave the crooked-toothed charmer one of his best remembered hits.
In 1971, he got the two brother Feroz Khan and Sanjay Khan together for Mela, another successful film. There was also a Dharmendra starrer called Samadhi, which was an average earner.
Mehra was one of the first Bombay directors to try to venture into Hollywood also. In the late eighties he tried a joint venture to make the movie The God Connection with Frank Yandolino.
Mehra’s golden period began when his teaming up with Amitabh Bachchan gave the Big B’s growing fan club one hit film after the other. Zanjeer was followed by Hera Pheri (1976), Khoon Pasina (1977), Muqaddar Ka Sikandar (1978), Laawaris (1981), Namak Halal (1982) and Sharabi (1984).
Mehra stopped being contractual director and started producing, directing and distributing all his projects. The film industry still remembers him as a ‘zindadil insaan’ with a great ‘shayarana andaaz’, who was as generous in success as in failure. His last film with his lucky mascot Amitabh – Jaadugar, was his first ever flop, and after this debacle there were no more collaboration between the two.
He introduced veteran actor Raaj Kumar’s son Puru Raajkumar in Bal Brahmachari, which failed at the box office. It was the last film he directed. Mehra died on 17 May 2009 in Mumbai of pneumonia and multiple organ failure.
Mehra, received Lifetime Achievement Award three times from prestigious film associations. Film Directors’ Association honored him with the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003, the India Motion Picture Directors Association (IMPDA) in 2006 and the Indian Motion Picture Producers Association (IMPPA) in 2008.
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