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Home» Book Review» Book Review» Nice to be a bad man

Nice to be a bad man

Sudhirendar Sharma | April 19, 2014, 01:33 PM IST
nice to be a bad man

New Delhi : Let it be clear from the beginning that Prem Naam Hai Mera, Prem Chopra is an autobiography in disguise, essentially a biography that is written in first person by a doting daughter on her father’s villainous innings on the celluloid. Rakita Nanda has narrated the story of a man whose fantastic energy went into creating an on-screen character that everybody loved to hate.

Prem Chopra has been in the business of villainy for over five decades, having worked with four generations of Kapoors – from legendary Prithviraj Kapoor to young heartthrob Ranbir Kapoor. And he is not done yet! ‘The variations I managed to weave into my performances became one of the strongest reasons for my survival in the industry,’ stresses Chopra. With some 320 screen appearances in varying shades of grey, Chopra romanticized the violent outlaw as an essential character in on-screen story-telling. There has been a gentle charm about the person, who had to consistently strike a delicate balance as a bad man in his profession and a good person in his family.

Chopra acknowledges without disdain that it is easy to play a ‘good man’ but quite a challenge to play a ‘bad man’. While the former treads a narrow line of decency, the latter has to portray multiple shades of grey. Chopra excelled in being a conman, trickster and betrayer – as mean as a mean could be. His presence on the screen would add twist to the tale, the dark force that deems a movie spellbound. Chopra peddled his dialogues softly, making it sound cunning and sinister at the same time. Playing a perfect host, this reviewer introduced each character as they appeared on the screen while entertaining overseas friends to a movie during the 80’s. Much to their surprise, the villain was identified before the film got rolling. It had later occurred to the guests that actor like Prem Chopra was eternal villain in the industry.

Much earlier in his career, Chopra had figured out that the importance of villainy will not diminish as long as it is an inherent part of human nature. Over the decades, however, the picture has transformed. Come to think of it, the paradox is that when life was simpler, more laid-back and nobler, there were zillions of bad guys setting the screen ablaze with their evil charm, but today when there are villains all around us in real life, our cinema doesn’t have too many. The emerging social convenience 'asks us to accept hero as he doubles up for the good and the bad, without questioning the equality of good and evil’.

Prem Naam Hai Mera, Prem Chopra is an intimate look at the life of one of most enduring villains of the film industry. Replete with personal anecdotes, accentuated by comments from contemporary co-actors and film-makers, it is a fascinating memoir of a person whom everybody loved to hate. Towards the end of his long career, lived to its fullest, it is clear that Prem Chopra had an exhaustive and engaging life, both on and off the screen. Did he exercise enough to present himself as a bad man? Your guess is as good as mine!


Prem Naam Hai Mera, Prem Chopra
By Rakita Nanda
Rainlight/Rupa, New Delhi
232 pages, Rs 495



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Sudhirendar Sharma

Sudhirendar Sharma

Trained as an environmental scientist, Sudhirendar Sharma efficiently performs multiple roles of writer-commentator, academic, activist and development strategist. Having varied interests and rich experience gained from travelling all over the world, he enjoys playing with words and sharing ideas. 

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