Meet actor who worked at newspaper agency, failed as hero, later became top villain, men would hide their wives from him

This actor got only Rs 2500 for his first film, and despite getting offers from Bollywood, he didn't leave his job at the newspaper agency.

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The actor who failed as a hero but became the top villain (Images source: Screengrab)

A strong villain is regarded as a must for any story to work. The audience can never get over the battle of good vs evil. Today we will talk about an actor who is in his late 80s', but he's still working. His on-screen persona was such that people used to hide their wives when they saw him walking. This baddie has some iconic dialogues, but his most popular line is, "Prem naam hai mera, Prem Chopra." 

Father wanted him to become a doctor, but Prem had bigger plans

Prem Chopra was the third of six children of Ranbir Lal and Rooprani Chopra. Born on September 23, 1935, in Lahore, Prem and his family moved to Shimla after partition. When Prem was studying, his father wanted him to become a doctor, but he was inclined toward cinema and dreamt about going to Bombay to try his luck in films. 

In an interview with Times of India, Prem revealed his father's reactions to his aspirations, "When I came to Mumbai from Shimla, my father said, 'I don't want to be an obstruction, but I want you to know that this acting is not a secure profession, so you must find employment in case you want to go to Mumbai'."

Prem joined a newspaper agency  to survive in Bombay

Prem took his father's suggestion seriously, and after reaching Bombay, he got a job in the circulation department of the Times of India. Prem looked after Bengal, Orissa and Bihar and was required to tour 20 days a month. Prem managed to cut his touring time by calling his agents to come and meet him at the station itself so that he could quickly return. A tour that would normally take 20 days would get completed in 12 and Prem would spend the rest of the time going from one studio to the other. His boss understood his dreams and supported him. 

Prem's first film affected him deeply

In the same interview, Prem revealed that during one such train journey, he was offered his first Punjabi film, Chaudhary Karnail Singh. as lead actor. As per reports, Prem got Rs 2,500 for the film. Before Chaudhary Karnail Singh was released, Prem lost his mother. Prem's mother had mouth cancer, and unfortunately, she could see his son on the big screen. 

Prem didn't leave his job even after getting established in Bollywood 

Chaudhary Karnail Singh was a big success, and it also won a National Award for Best Feature Film in Punjabi. After this film, Prem started getting offers from Bollywood. Bharat Bhushan-starer Mud Mud Ke Na Dekh was Prem's debut film in Bollywood. However, barring Shaheed, his early movies, in which he played positive characters failed. Prem didn't quit TOI even after joining films. While working on Main Shadi Karne Chala, someone suggested he play a villain, and he took the suggestion seriously. 

Prem continued working with The Times of India when he was already a part of box office hits like Nishan, Sikandar E Azam in 1965 and Sagaai, Mera Saaya in 1966. Post Teesri Manzil and Upkaar, he was flooded with films as a villain. After Upkaar in 1967, he left The Times of India to concentrate solely on acting. 

The effect of Prem Chopra on the audience 

Prem's stellar performance in Teesri Manzil, Upkaar, and Bobby instilled fear for him among the audience. Prem narrated an incident that left him happy and embarrassed at the same time, "Once I was walking with my papaji (father) in the gardens of Panchkula. When people saw me, they started shouting, 'Hide your wives, Prem Chopra is here!' My father was aghast, as he thought I had become a star. I requested my father to call them and convinced them that I was in reality a nice guy." 

Prem Chopra's filmography

In 60 years of career, Prem has done over 380 films. He holds the record of playing the main antogonist in 19 Rajesh Khanna's films. The 88-year-old actor's recent work is Ranbir Kapoor's Animal.

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