Filmmaker made Amitabh Bachchan a star

Bollywood filmmaker Prakash Mehra, who made an unknown Amitabh Bachchan a star with pics such as “Zanjeer,” died May 17 in a Mumbai hospital of pneumonia. He was 69.

Until “Zanjeer,” Bachchan’s career was lackluster, but casting him as an angry young man in that movie and partnering him with Jaya Bhaduri, then one of the top actresses in Bollywood who would later marry Bachchan, paid off for thesp and helmer. The partnership with Bachchan, which began with “Zanjeer” yielded other hits such as “Hera pheri” (1976), “Muqaddar ka Sikander” (1978), “Laawaris” (1981), “Namak halaal” (1982) and “Sharabi” (1984). 1989’s “Jaadugar” was their last outing together, but it was a box office disappointment.

Mehra, born in 1939 in Uttar Pradesh province, began in Mumbai’s film business as a controller but turned to directing with 1968’s “Hasina maan jayegi.” He came to Bollywood’s attention with “Mela” (1971).

Besides writing and producing many of his films, Mehra also tried his hand at writing lyrics for the songs in some of them including pics “Imaandar” and “Chameli ki shaadi.” His last outing was producing “Mujhe mere biwi say bachchao,” a remake of “Ruthless People.”

Mehra is survived by three sons.

– Shalini Dore

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