WRITER, director, producer and editor Vidhu Vinod Chopra has had a glittering career filled with fabulous movies that have entertained audiences around the world.
The forward-thinking filmmaker has also launched new talent, expanded the horizons of commercial Hindi cinema and broken box office records. Born in 1952, he turns a year older this week and celebrates his 71st birthday next Tuesday (5).
To mark the occasion, Eastern Eye put together a watchlist of his top 10 movies, listed in chronological order.
Khamosh (1985): After adapting his National Award winning short film Murder at MonkeyHill (1976) as feature film Sazaye Maut (1981), he announced himself as a commercial writer, director, and producer with this thriller. The unconventional murder mystery ahead of its time failed commercially but showed him to be a decidedly different filmmaker. The standout cast of acclaimed actors included Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi, Amol Palekar, Soni Razdan and Pankaj Kapoor.
Parinda (1989): Chopra produced and directed one of the finest thrillers ever made in Bollywood. Apart from introducing realism, it had path-breaking editing and a new kind of storytelling, which would influence a generation of filmmakers. Anil Kapoor, Jackie Shroff, Nana Patekar and Madhuri Dixit headed the strong cast in the underworld gangster drama, which established Chopra as a filmmaking force.
1942:A Love Story (1994): He produced, directed, and wrote this period drama that marvellously mixed up patriotism and romance. Although the movie starring Anil Kapoor and Manisha Koirala is best remembered for being composer RD Burman’s final great soundtrack before his death, it had a gripping story set during an important chapter of India’s history.
Munna Bhai MBBS (2003): He co-wrote and produced the iconic movie about a small time crook, who goes back to school to earn a doctor’s degree to please his father. Sanjay Dutt was given a career-defining role in the feel good film that taught audiences important life lessons about kindness. Perhaps the film’s biggest triumph was introducing Rajkumar Hirani, who has been the most successful Bollywood director of the past 20 years.
Parineeta (2005): The period musical romance introduced debut director Pradeep Sarkar and newcomer Vidya Balan, in her first film role. Chopra was producer, writer and supervising editor on this film adaptation of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s 1914 Bengali novella of the same name. The story of two neighbours from different backgrounds growing up and falling in love struck a chord with audiences globally.
Lage Raho Munnabhai (2006): Chopra produced arguably the greatest sequel in Bollywood history. The Rajkumar Hirani directed follow-up to Munna Bhai MBBS, saw Sanjay Dutt return as a kind-hearted gangster, who makes a positive impact on those around him. This time around he is inspired by the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and a beautiful radio host he has fallen in love with.
3 Idiots (2009): Aamir Khan, R Madhavan, Sharman Joshi and Kareena Kapoor Khan starred in the coming of age drama directed by Raj Kumar Hirani. He produced the multiaward winning movie, which became the highest grossing in Bollywood history when it was released. Set across two time periods, the captivating story filled with important life lessons, deep emotions and humour became a worldwide blockbuster.
Ferrari Ki Sawaari (2012): One of the greatest father-son stories ever made in Hindi cinema was a feel good comedy filled with fantastic moments. Sharman Joshi played the lead role in the story of an honest devoted father who is forced to steal Sachin Tendulkar’s Ferrari, in order to help his son’s cricketing dream. Chopra produced the unique film, which won wide acclaim.
PK (2014): Chopra was once again on producing duties with this record-breaking film directed by Rajkumar Hirani. The science-fiction comedy drama about an alien stranded on earth raised thought provoking questions and introduced a new kind of storytelling. It tackled a serious subject with humour and a unique protagonist. PK remains the greatest alien movie of all time in Bollywood.
Sanju (2018): The dream team of Chopra as producer and Hirani as director continued with this blockbuster biopic based on the life of Sanjay Dutt. Ranbir Kapoor portrayed the actor from a troubled youth to getting on the wrong side of the law and finally finding redemption. It remains the highest grossing biopic ever made in Bollywood and shows that Chopra knows how to make great cinema.