Date of Birth : 13 July 1939
Place of Birth : Bijnapur, Uttar Pradesh, India
Prakash Mehra Profile
Prakash Mehra was born in Bijnaur in Uttar Pradesh in 1939. He had a flair for writing stories and poetries which brought him to Bombay with just 60 rupees in his pocket. He managed to find accommodation in a dingy guest house where he shared a tiny room with Satyenpal Chaudhary who turned out to be a friend forever. He got his first break as assistant director working with directors like Dhirubai Patel who made B Grade devotionals and films based on mythology and Mohan Segal, one of the most well educated and talented filmmaker who had assistants like Mohan Kumar, J. Om Prakash, Sohanlal Kanwar and Prakash Mehra. Mehra was paid a fixed salary of rupees 120 while the others were paid Rupees 150 'only because they knew English'. It was this small difference that made him give up working as an assistant and look for a break as a director. He got his first break with Haseena Mann Jaayegi (1968) with Shashi Kapoor and Babita (now better known as the mother of Karishma and Kareena Kapoor) with music composed by Kalyanji- Anandji. The film was a super hit which gave him a standing and the opportunities to make bigger films like Samaadhi (1972), Haath Ki Safai (1974) and Aakhri Daku (1978). Then came that 'chain' which was to change the chain of his life and career. A team of struggling writers, Salim and Javed approached him with a very different script but Prakash Mehra found it very difficult to find a big actor to play the leading role. Raaj Kumar, Dharmendra and Dev Anand all turned down his offer for reasons they know best. Writers Salim and Javed suggested an actor who they had seen in a film called Bombay to Goa (1972) whose name was Amitabh Bachchan. Their suggestion was backed up by veteran actor, Om Prakash and Pran and the heroine, Jaya Bhaduri who had to because she was madly in love with the struggling actor in whom she saw a great future. Amitabh who was struggling to find a place gladly accepted the role even though his parents and his mentors, K. A. Abbas and Hrishikesh Mukherjee were certain that he was committing Harakiri, sheer suicide as an actor of B Grade stunt film. The film was made by Prakash Mehra without any change in the script which meant that Amitabh had no songs to sing in the film (even though Pran had a song). The film was released on a Friday andat 12 noon Amitabh was a flop actor, at 3 pm he was a superstar. At 12pm Rajesh Khanna was the superstar and at 3pm this unknown actor called Amitabh Bachchan had over thrown him. Then there was no looking back for the angry young man image Prakash Mehra had created for Amitabh. Soon Prakash Mehra and Amitabh became the best of friends and the most successful working partners. They made films like Muqaddar Ka Sikandar (1978), Lawaaris (1981), Hera Pheri (1976), Namak Halal (1982) and Sharaabi (1984) all of them the kind of superhits Hindi films had rarely seen. The angry young man image and his multiple talent lead Amitabh from success to more success and Prakash Mehra like his contemporary Manmohan Desai could not think of making any film without Amitabh who as everyone now knows was called 'Lalla' by Prakash Mehra. However like all good things end their great story also had to come to an end. It all started when Prakash Mehra made a film called Jaadugar (1989) which failed to work any Jaadu at the box office which created a storm in the industry and the two never came together again which was a major setback for Prakash Mehra because Amitabh Bachchan had reached a formidable position from where no one could pull him down. Their parting ways were also the beginning of the cracking of Prakash Mehhra the all powerful filmmakers. Prakash Mehra was no ordinary filmmaker. He was not a technical genius but he knew how to tell a good and interesting story. He was a good writer who worked with a team of good writers. He was an expert in writing lyrics. He always wrote the 'mukhadaas' of every song which was completed by his favorite lyricist Anjaan and the music composed by Kalyanji- Anandji and Bappi Lahiri. His habit of working with Amitabh was also in a way his undoing because he found it very difficult to get the same kind of work and the same dedication from all the other actor he tried to work with. Prakash Mehra passed away in the hospital in the early hours of Sunday morning after a prolonged battle with illness. He is reported to have died of pneumonia and multiple organ failure. The filmmaker was 69.