, Jammu, India
Om Prakash was an Indian character actor. He was fascinated by theatre, music and films.
He joined All India Radio some time in 1937 on a monthly salary of Rs 25. He was known as "Fateh Din", a radio personality and his programmes made him popular all over Lahore and Punjab.
He was regaling people at a wedding one day, when the well-known film-maker Dalsukh Pancholi spotted him and asked him to see him in his Lahore office. Pancholi gave Om Prakash his first break as an actor in a film called 'Daasi'. He was paid only Rs 80 but the film earned him the kind of recognition that would give him a means of livelihood for a lifetime. It was his first major role but he had already played a bit role in 'Sharif Badmash', a silent film. He followed his good work in 'Daasi' with Pancholi’s 'Dhamki' and 'Aayee Bahar' and became a force to reckon with.
Soon after the Partition he came to Delhi and then to Bombay (now Mumbai). It was Dr. B.R. Chopra who had noticed his talent when he (Dr. Chopra) was a film journalist and critic who urged him to carry on with his acting career. He was sure Om Prakash had the talent to prove himself as a versatile actor. The actor had to face some struggle initially. He got his first big break in Bombay as a villain in a film called 'Lakhpati'. It won him acclaim and got him more "meaty" roles in films like 'Lahore', 'Char Din' and 'Raat Ki Rani'. It was during this phase in his career that he did 'Azaad' with Dilip Kumar, 'Sargam' with Raj Kapoor and Miss Mary, Asha and 'Manmauji' with Kishore Kumar followed by 'Howrah Bridge' with Ashok Kumar and then Tere Ghar Ke Samne with Dev Anand. He was marked out for his performance in both films in spite of the presence of powerful star personas like Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Ashok Kumar, Kishore Kumar and Dev Anand.
He had developed a style of his own, a style which was going to take him places, make him a big name in the world of film entertainment for the next forty years.
Om Prakash soon became a household name. He was good in almost every character he played. He was the comedian, the family man burdened with problems, the munshi, the alcoholic fallen on bad days because of the evil designs of the villain, the nagged husband, the old man in love, the wily politician and the big brother with a heart of gold. He played an assortment of characters with the same ease and had some of the best directors opting for him every time they had a role which they felt only he could play.
A versatile actor like Om Prakash with 307 films to his credit. His performance as Dilip Kumar’s elder brother in Gopi gave his career a new impetus. He proved that he could play mature roles with the same ease, the same depth.
Om Prakash was one of the most loved and respected father figures in the industry. His ready wit, his earthy humour, his lack of airs, his disdain for hypocrites and hypocrisy, his benevolent nature in helping others to make the best of life and his eternal optimism and romantic nature made him a man in a class by himself, a cut or rather several cuts above the rest.
He lived in Union Park, Chembur, a suburb of Mumbai. The actor who was always so full of life was still full of life till just two days before his death. He knew he was not well. He knew he was suffering from various complications but he never gave up his zest for life till his heart betrayed him. He kept calling friends to play a game of rummy or just chat. He had an office at the Roop Tara Studios which was only used for “rummy sessions” and “chat sessions”. Then, some years ago, he shifted his office to the suburbs to make it more convenient for his friends. His wife Prabha pre-deceased him. He has a daughter who is married and settled in Delhi.
He attended this office regularly till his health started failing him. He was confined to his bungalow (next to Ashok Kumar’s bungalow). He suffered his first heart attack in his own bedroom. He was rushed to the Lilavati Hospital where he suffered a second heart attack and went into a coma from which he never came out. He was declared dead at 1.30 pm on February 21. He died at age 78 in Mumbai, India of a heart attack. The news spread fast and the industry was shocked and stunned because he was the kind of man who could not be easily associated with something so sombre and solemn like death.