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Producer-Director Prakash Mehra passes away

Last updated on: May 17, 2009 12:44 IST

Legendary Bollywood producer-director Prakash Mehra, who gave Amitabh Bachchan his first success with Zanjeer, passed away in a hospital in Mumbai on Sunday, after prolonged illness.

Sixty nine-year-old Mehra, who was hospitalised for last several days, breathed his last at 0750 hours. He died of pneumonia and multiple organ failure, hospital sources said.

Ironically, people came to know about Mehra's ill-health a fortnight ago, only after Bachchan visited him in the hospital and mentioned about it in his blog.

The Mehra-Bachchan duo, which began with Zanjeer in early 70s, gave the industry seven movies of which six were mega-hits. Their last movie together was Jadugar in 1989, which was a flop.

The Director-actor duo hits include Muqaddar Ka Sikander, Laawaris, Namak Halal, Sharabi and Hera Pheri apart from Zanjeer.

Mehra started his journey in the industry as a production controller in the late 1950s but he switched to direction with Haseena Maan Jayegi in 1968.

However, Mehra's first success came in 1971 with Mela. The movie brought together the Khan brothers -- Feroz Khan and Sanjay Khan -- for the first time on silver screen. He also directed Anil Kapoor in 'Zindagi Ek Jua' in 1991 but the film didn't do well at the box-office.

In 1996, he introduced veteran actor Raaj Kumar's son Puru Raajkumar with Bal Brahmachari. It bombed at the box-office. This was his last film as a director. In mid-1990s, he produced Dalaal with Mithun Chakraborthy, which was a commercial success.

Mehra was bestowed with the Lifetime Achievement award from the India Motion Picture Directors Association (IMPDA) in 2006 for his commendable contribution to the industry as a Director.

Two years later, in 2008, he was presented with the Lifetime Achievement award from the Indian Motion Picture Producers Association for his role as a Producer.

Mehra was amongst one of the first directors to try their luck in Hollywood. In the late eighties, he worked on a joint venture with Frank Yandolino for the movie The God Connection. The movie was to star Hollywood actors, including Charles Bronson among others. But, the project never took-off.

Mehra's health declined after his wife slipped into a coma. His conditioned further worsened after his wife's death. He was in the ICU and on ventilator following lung failure and infection.

It was widely reported that Mehra, who gave Bachchan his angry-young man persona through his films, had fallout with the actor after the failure of their last film Jadugar.

However, Bachchan described the reports as 'rubbish'.

'Prakash was a complete director in every sense of the word. He had great story telling and screenplay sense. His approach was simple yet profound in content. He also had great music sense and did a lot of the lyrics himself. But his themes and content were his forte,' the Big B had written in his blog.

Describing his visit to the hospital, Bachchan said that Mehra had difficulty in recognising him.

'It is most depressing to see my contemporaries in this way. We made music together,' Bachchan added.

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