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When Madhubala, her father sued BR Chopra for Dilip Kumar’s Naya Daur; director said ‘things went horribly wrong’

On filmmaker BR Chopra's 108th birth anniversary, here's a throwback to the time when the ace director was sued by the top leading actor Madhubala for Naya Daur.

madhubala dilip kumarMadhubala's exit from Naya Daur came right around the time when her and Dilip Kumar's break-up was all over the tabloids.

Filmmaker BR Chopra was one of the pioneers of Hindi cinema in the 1950s who directed classics like Naya Daur, Kanoon, Gumrah and produced films like Waqt, Dhool Ka Phool, Ittefaq via his production house BR Films. The older brother of filmmaker Yash Chopra, BR Chopra was a notable figure in the Hindi film industry since the early 1950s, and was the one who gave a break to Yash in his early days. But one of the biggest controversies of his career came in the form of a lawsuit where he was sued by film actor Madhubala after she exited his film Naya Daur.

Naya Daur, which starred Dilip Kumar in the lead role, was the story of ‘man vs machine’ and was released at a time when India was still a young country struggling to come to terms with industrialisation that had swept the western countries. In the early days of the shoot, Madhubala starred with Dilip Kumar, and the two were on the verge of breaking up their real-life relationship. Dilip Kumar and Madhubala had been dating each other for a few years but Madhubala’s father Ataullah Khan had raised objections to the relationship. After she had shot for 10 days of the film, her father refused to allow her to shoot the film as it required the unit to travel on an outdoor schedule. Madhubala had a heart condition, and her father reasoned that it would be dangerous for her to travel outdoors. The film director said that he had already specified the requirements of making the film so it came as a shock to him when Madhubala and her father sued BR Chopra.

In a 1997 interview with Sharmila Taliculam, BR Chopra, who had studied to be a lawyer before entering films, had spoken about this phase in his career and said that Madhubala was a “fine person” but in the case of this film, “things went badly wrong.” “For my film, she did about ten days of work and then her father refused to allow her to go outdoors for the rest of the shoot – I was never sure why. So we took Vyjayanthimala for the role and her father filed a suit against us,” he said.

The judge asked the filmmaker if the film could be shot indoors, and BR Chopra refused as the film required extensive shooting in the village surroundings. BR Chopra won the case and later Madhubala apologised to him. “Madhubala did come to my house to apologise and say she was really helpless, but that’s okay. I have no complaints,” he recalled.

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Dilip Kumar, who was the lead hero of the film, had also written about the incident in his memoir Dilip Kumar: The Substance and the Shadow. The Mughal-e-Azam couple’s real-life break-up was all over the tabloids during this time and many perceived that Madhubala’s exit from the film was the doing of Dilip Kumar. It was implied that he had gotten her replaced but the actor wrote that this was not the case.

“Much of what appeared in the media was misreporting by gossip writers who twisted and twirled facts to make them palatable to readers. I took it all in my stride, though it caused anger and pain at times when I was made to appear as if I had got Madhu out of the film while the truth was that her father pulled her out of the project to demonstrate his authority,” he wrote.

First published on: 22-04-2022 at 08:49:08 am
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