Veteran Bollywood actor Prem Chopra, who made his mark as a popular villain in the 60s and 70s, says he is happy playing the baddie on-screen.
"I was honest and hard working actor. I am happy with the kind of work I have done. I have no regrets. I am happy being a villain," Chopra said on the launch of the book written on him by daughter Rakita.
On the occasion, the 78-year-old screen legend even spoke his eternal dialogue 'Prem naam hai mera... Prem Chopra', which is also the title the book.
The book was unveiled in the presence of family members besides host of celebrities including Akshay Kumar, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Manoj Kumar and Vidhu Vinod Chopra.
Rakita, who is married to award-winning film publicity designer Rahul Nanda, penned the 230-page book chronicling the life and career of one of the most loved villains of the Indian film industry.
He is one of the few actors to have worked for more than five decades -- from black and white era to the new millennium.
Chopra recollected that he fell in love with acting during his college days. He did act in theatre groups and he won prizes.
"I did plays in Hindi, English, Punjabi and Urdu. All of this encouraged me to become an actor. After my BA, I told my father I want to act in films. He refused at first later after seeing my dedication he allowed me to go to Bombay. He had one condition that since I had graduated, I had to find myself a job first," Chopra said.
He landed a job in the circulation department of The Times of India.
"I was their circulation inspector, handling Bengal, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh. I would have to travel 20 days a month; in the remaining 10 days, I would struggle to become an actor. I realised that it is not easy to get into films. All the producers would say leave your address, but nobody ever called," Chopra said.
During his struggling days, Chopra would go to Mehboob Studio and once he happened to meet Mehboob saab.
“He told me I have talent and he will give me a break as a hero… don’t sign any film before that. I would go to Mehboob Studio every day.. I realised that Mehboob saab was sick and wouldn’t be starting work any time soon. So I took Raj Khosla’s film ‘Woh Kaun Thi’… they wanted an unknown face,” Chopra said.
“The movie had such a big director and actors like Manoj Kumar and Sadhana. I had a total of three appearances in the film. It was a suspense film and my character added to the suspense in the film. It became a huge hit and I became a villain,” he said.
When Chopra was shooting at Mehboob Studio next day Mehboob saab came to meet me and he was upset.
“He told me not to take the wrong role (villain) and you did that; you took a negative role in the film and this film is going to be a huge hit and you will be typecast as a villain from now on,” Chopra said.
Later Chopra landed more films as a villain like ‘Teesri Manzil’, ‘Upkar’ and others.
However, in real life, the veteran actor is calm and soft-spoken. He is a devoted husband and doting father to three daughters.
Chopra’s son in law, actor Sharman Joshi, narrated, one funny incident from the book, saying, once he (Chopra) and his father were strolling in Chandigarh…and four couples were passing by and one man among them said, “beware take care of your wives Prem Chopra has arrived.”
His (Chopra’s father) father got upset and said, ‘What sort of reputation do you have but at the same time he was proud of his son,' Sharman said.
Those who attended the book launch event included Amitabh Bachchan, Manoj Kumar, Anil Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor, Randhir Kapoor, Jeetendra, Rakesh Roshan, R Balki, Abbas Mustan and others.
“We have shared some wonderful moments together. I loved working with him. He is a very good actor,” Amitabh Bachchan said.
“It feels nice that a book on him is launched. But my personal belief is that his talent was not tapped properly,” Manoj Kumar said.
Actor Anil Kapoor too hailed the book while his fellow star Akshay Kumar wished that his daughter would write his biography some day.
“It feels nice that a daughter has written this book. I wish even my daughter writes a biography on me. I was not aware about his (Chopra’s) age till the time I read the book. He looks fit even today,” Akshay said.
Here are some snaps of Bollywood biggies at the launch of 'Prem naam hai mera...Prem Chopra'.