Prakash Mehra (Hindi: प्रकाश मेहरा, 13 July 1939 – 17 May 2009) was a legendary Hindi film producer and director. Along with Manmohan Desai, Prakash Mehra was regarded as the pioneer of “Masala” film genre. His collaboration with the actor Amitabh Bachchan resulted in several box office blockbusters and classics, due to which Mehra was considered among the ‘Golden Directors’ of his time.
Born on 13 July 1939 in Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh, Mehra started in the late 1950s as a production controller. In 1968, he directed Shashi Kapoor who played a double role in Haseena Maan Jayegi. . In 1973, he produced and directed Zanjeer. This hit with Amitabh Bachchan started a relationship that spanned 7 more films, 6 being huge blockbusters (Khoon Pasina, Hera Pheri (1976 film), Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, Lawaaris (1981 film), Namak Halaal, ;Sharaabi) and Jaadugar. Zanjeer launched the career of Bachchan as a lead actor , spanning 2 decades of collaboration. Their eighth film together Jaadugar failed at the box office and was towards the end of the 1st phase of Bachchan’s legendary career.
Prakash Mehra also directed & produced Zindagi Ek Jua with actor Anil Kapoor in 1991, which was not a commercial success. In 1996, he introduced veteran actor Raaj Kumar’s son Puru Raajkumar in Bal Brahmachari which was also unsuccessful. This was the last film he directed. He also produced the movie Dalaal with Mithun Chakraborthy, in the mid-90s, which was a box-office moneymaker. Mehra received a lifetime achievement award from the India Motion Picture Directors Association (IMPDA) in 2006. He also received Lifetime Achievement as Producer from IMPPA (Indian Motion Picture Producers Association) on 19 September 2008.
Prakash Mehra was one of the first Bombay directors to try venture into Hollywood. In the late eighties he tried a joint venture to make the movie The God Connection with Frank Yandolino. The movie was to include Hollywood actors such as Charles Bronson among others, but the project though funded heavily initially, never came to fruition.
Mehra died on 17 May 2009 in Mumbai of pneumonia and multiple organ failure. He had three sons – Sumeet, Amit & Puneet. His son Amit Mehra died of a cardiac arrest on 1st March 2015.
Prakash Mehra spent most his childhood in Gandhi Gali, Fatehpuri, Chandni Chowk at his Aunt’s House.