Prem Nam Hai Mera – Prem Chopra is one of those biographies I read of late. Written by his daughter Rakita Nanda, the book is a well narrated account of one of the iconic villains of Hindi film industry. Known for his trademark lascivious scorn and brilliant dialogue delivery, Prem Chopra was one of the cruelest human beings in our Bollywood films. His mere presence on the screen was quite enough to evoke anger among the audience. Whenever we think about Prem Chopra, his nasty smile and lustful exploits in his eyes come to our mind. He has been known as one of the coolest rapists to have ever graced the silver screen. I still remember watching his films on television and always cursed him under my breath. Well! That was his persona.
While the book is written by his daughter, the book is narrated in first person and reads more like an autobiography than a biography. And, this is what makes this book an interesting read. This book is all about his films and other actors who worked with him on the silver screen. He worked with almost every Bollywood superstar and this book talks about the relationships he shared with these actors. The book includes a number of anecdotes shared by these co-stars. His co-stars describe him as a man totally in love with acting. The book also talks about his family – his better half, his daughters, his sons-in-law and his grandchildren. His relationship with his family is endearing, especially with his daughters. The views of his family members present him as someone who could do no wrong. His character comes out as a good-humored person who respects everyone.
The book also tells us about his famous dialogues that went on to become history. I wonder how these dialogues would have worked on other famous villains of the Hindi film industry. We get to know his daily routine that kept him fit all these years. Importantly, the book not only concentrates on Prem Chopra, but also touches a number of other important aspects related to Hindi film industry. The book, dealing with almost five decades of Bollywood, offers an evolutionary picture of villainy in Hindi cinema. This scope is, however, limited in nature and could have been expanded further. You also get the feel of the development of Bollywood film industry over the ages.
In this book, author Rakita Nanda throws light on some very interesting aspects of the life of an actor working as a villain in Indian cinema. Problems faced by his daughters in school due to his negative image in the public has been concisely but brilliantly discussed. Prem Chopra’s emotions whenever he performed all those famous rape scenes have also been dealt with. Prem Chopra shared a perfect harmony with his female co-stars except at one case. One rift with one of the female co-stars that happened during the shooting of one of the rape scenes has been briefly touched upon. The name of the co-star has not been mentioned but the problem an actor playing a negative role may face during such scenes has been discussed brilliantly.
The book under review gives you a very good account of Prem Chopra’s life. However, it leaves you wanting more. I would have liked to know Prem Chopra’s views on other famous villains of Hindi film industry. Though we get to know a little bit about Pran in the book, other villains do not get space in the book. We get to know about different aspects of villainy in Indian cinema but not about his relationship with other actors who were working as villains around the same time. Readers would have loved to read his relationship with these rivals. This was definitely a fascinating aspect to explore. We read a number of goody-goody things about Prem Chopra in this book but there would definitely be some grey shades in Prem Chopra’s life. I think that part got brushed aside as the book was written by his daughter.
The book becomes monotonous and repetitive at certain places. I wish editors had done a better job by cutting down these repetitive lines. Nonetheless, this is a good book about the man whose acting captivated us all for a long time.