J. Om Prakash blazed a glorious trail with a slew of superhit films from 1961 when he first produced the Rajendra Kumar-Vyjanthimala starrer Aas Ka Panchi.
The film and its songs were runaway hits, and Omji was back producing Ayee Milan Ki Bela three years later, again a hit. With Aaye Din Bahaar Ke and Aaya Saawan Jhoom Ke (both featuring Dharmendra and Asha Parekh) in quick succession, the filmmaker acquired the reputation of a hit machine with chartbuster music, largely composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal.
In 1972, Omji produced Aankhon Aankhon Mein with his son-in-law Rakesh Roshan in the lead. But somehow, his films with Rakesh never clicked, and that goes for Aakhir Kyon and Aap Ke Saath as well.
Omji’s hits in the 1970s starred Jeetendra and their coalition began with Apnaapan in 1977 and went on for four films, including the 1980 blockbuster Asha. “We had a terrific rapport,” Jeetendra recalls fondly.
Asha Parekh, who did two back-to-back hits Aaye Din Bahaar Ke and Aaya Saawan Jhoom Ke with the filmmaker, remembers him as a gentleman. “He was soft-spoken and very knowledgeable about cinema, especially music. The songs in the two films I did with him were all big hits,” she smiles.
Omji also worked with many major stars, including Rajesh Khanna in Aap Ki Kasam, Aakarman and Aakhir Kyon. But his favourites clearly were Jeetendra and Reena Roy. While the world saw Reena as a glamour girl, Omji cast her in strong dramatic parts in Apnaapan, Asha and Aadmi Khilona Hai.
In 1974, Omji finally turned director with Aap Ki Kasam, featuring Rajesh Khanna and Mumtaz. To this day, the film is remembered for its scintillating soundtrack by R.D. Burman, including songs like Karvatein Badalte Rahe, Jai Jai Shiv Shankar, and the quasi-philosophical Kishore Kumar classic Zindagi Ke Safar Mein.
In his distinguished 40-year career as a filmmaker, J. Om Prakash changed the course of Bollywood. If he directed a disaster Aashiq Hoon Baharon Ka in 1977, he also produced and directed the monster hit Apnaapan during the same year.