MUMBAI—J. Om Prakash, the man who ushered in a “Filmyug” (his banner’s name that meant “The Age of Cinema”) passed away on Aug. 7 morning in Mumbai. He was 93.
Making his debut with an obscure “Farmaaish” in the 1950s, his first success was “Aas Ka Panchhi” in 1960, with which he launched his Filmyug banner. His first big hit was “Ayee Milan Ki Bela” in 1964, followed by the blockbuster “Aaye Din Bahaar Ke” (1966) and then “Aaya Sawan Jhoom Ke” (1969). He also presented the super-hit “Aan Milo Sajana” (1971) and went on to turn director with “Aap Ki Kasam” (1974), followed by the hit “Apnapan” and the blockbuster “Aasha.” (1980). His last film was “Aadmi Khilona Hai” (1993) after which he only made a telefilm.
Om-ji, as he was known in the industry, was a part of the prestigious United Producers that jointly presented so many films in the 1960s. His daughter Pinky married actor Rakesh Roshan, who had played the lead in his “Aankhon Aankhon Mein” and “Aakraman” and later in “Aakhir Kyon?” and the unreleased “Sahara.”
Hrithik Roshan, today’s heartthrob, is his grandson and made his first appearance ever by dancing as a child in the song “Jaane Hum Sadak ke Logon Se” with Jeetendra in his “Aasha,” followed by being a part of “Shaher Mein Charcha Hai” in which he dances and hands over a love note from Dharmendra to Hema Malini. He then featured in a key role in “Bhagwan Dada” (1986), Om-ji’s last success, which was produced by Rakesh Roshan, who also starred in it.
Hrithik was very close to his grandfather and had gifted him a Mercedes-Benz in 2016. Other than that, Om-ji always predicted from the 1980s that his grandson would be a huge star one day. Om-ji also was uncle to actor Deepak Parasher, and was also the late filmmaker Mohan Kumar’s brother-in-law.
Om-ji’s films were known for entertainment as producer and he also made substantial films with messages as a director like “Aandhi” (his production with Gulzar as director), “Apnapan,” “Aasha,” “Aakhir Kyon?” and “Aadmi Khilona Hai” (which did not do well). He was also known for his deep sense of melody and most of his films, especially most of the 12 films he did with Laxmikant-Pyarelal and three films with Shankar-Jaikishan. “Aap Ki Kasam” (R.D. Burman) and “Aakhir Kyon?” (Rajesh Roshan) were among his other films with notable music. In 2011, when this writer had met him, he let on that he earned a very good amount every month as royalties for the sales of his music!
Among the talents he introduced were director Mohan Kumar (“Aas Ka Panchhi”), Raghunath Jhalani (“Aaye Din Bahaar Ke”) and himself, Hrithik Roshan as a kid, and some behind-the-scenes talents, setting up long associations with cameraman V. Babasaheb, writer Ram Kelkar, editor Pratap Dave and lyricist Anand Bakshi.
He once told this writer, “In this industry, you either quit voluntarily or are thrown out. I chose the former option. I am overwhelmed by the success and respect I received, and I can only be grateful to my audiences, my associates and above all to the Almighty for probably giving me more success than I deserved.
“I am very content with life. I was President of IMPPA, the Film Producers’ Guild for six years continuously, and also headed the Film Federation of India in which capacity I visited the Cannes Film Festival in 1999 and got special appreciation for my views about whether stars should share a film’s intellectual rights. I have been a trustee of artistes’ welfare funds and on the advisory panels of the Directorate of Film Festivals and Central Board of Film Certification and have been a lecturer at the Pune Film Institute. The crowning glory for me was the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Asian Guild Of London in 2004 when they also awarded Rakesh Roshan for Best Director and Hrithik Roshan for Best Actor respectively for ‘Koi…Mil Gaya.’”
The son of a humble schoolteacher from Lahore who became an educationist indeed came a long way, remembering his father’s dictum that in life, no matter what, one must always keep learning till the end.