Om Prakash Bakshi, simply known as Om Prakash, was born on 19 December 1919, in Lahore. He was fascinated by theatre, music and films. He started learning classical music when he was just 12 years of age and was recognised as a master in no time. He joined All India Radio 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. One day at a wedding, the well-known film-maker Dalsukh Pancholi spotted Om Prakash 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 widespread recognition. It was his first major role but he had already played a bit role in Sharif Badmash, a silent film. He followed it up with Pancholi’s Dhamki and Aayee Bahar and became a force to reckon with.
Soon after the Partition, Om Prakash shifted to Bombay (now Mumbai). It was Dr BR Chopra, then a film journalist and critic, who had noticed his talent and 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 made his debut in Bollywood as a villain in a film called Lakhpati (1948). It won him critical acclaim.
In 1949, Om Prakash thereafter got more solid roles in films like Lahore, Char Din and Raat Ki Rani. He did Sargam (1950) with Raj Kapoor, in which he managed to create his own impression on the audience, despite the presence of a star persona. He had his own natural style which gained much attention. Bahar (1951) featured Om Prakash as Vyjayanthimala’s father. The movie was a hit. Poonam (1952) and Ghungroo (1952) had flopped. But the Raj Kapoor-Nargis starrer Anhonee (1952) became a huge hit. Dilip Kumar’s Shikast (1953) was average, while Bharat Bhushan-Kishore Kumar starrer Ladki (1953) became a hit. In 1954, Om Prakash had a few flops in Kavi, Dost, Barati, and others. It was during this phase in his career that he did the super-hit film Azaad (1955) with Dilip Kumar. He gave an outstanding performance in the film. He then started earning increasing recognition and appreciation.
Om Prakash featured in a couple of successful films in 1956, viz. Bhai-Bhai, also starring Ashok Kumar and Kishore Kumar, and Bharat Bhushan-starrer Basant Bahar. Balraj Sahni’s Bhabhi (1957) and Kishore Kumar’s Asha (1957) were also hits, while Raj Kapoor’s Sharada (1957) faired above average and was a big critical successs. Om Prakash also starred in Pradeep Kumar’s Ek Jhalak (1957) which flopped unfortunately. He was then seen in Shakti Samanta’s Howrah Bridge (1958), starring Ashok Kumar and Madhubala in the lead. The movie was moderately successful and also had great music. Stepping into direction, Om Prakash made his debut with Kanhaiya (1959). The film starred Raj Kapoor and Nutan in lead roles. It didn’t do too well at the box-office. In Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai (1960) and Hariyali Aur Raasta (1962), Om Prakash once again gave splendid performances. Both the movies were successful, and their songs were also very popular. Shammi Kapoor-Mala Sinha starrer Dil Tera Diwana (1962) and Dev Anand’s Tere Ghar Ke Saamne (1963) were hits as well. Bharat Bhushan-starrer Jahan Ara (1964) flopped, while Joy Mukherjee’s Door Ki Awaaz and Dharmendra’s Aap Ki Parchhaiyan (1964) faired about average. Shammi Kapoor’s Rajkumar (1964) was a big hit with great music. Sunil Dutt-starrer Khandaan (1965) was a huge commercial and critical success. Shashi Kapoor-Nanda starrer Neend Hamari Khwab Tumhare (1966) was an average affair, while the comedy flicks Pyar Kiye Jaa (1966) and Dus Lakh (1966) were successful. Om Prakash kept increasing his performance level with each film which earned him wide appreciation. Om Prakash then performed in Rajendra Kumar’s Aman (1967) and Raj Kapoor’s Around The World (1967), which were average earners. 1968 was a great year for him with many hits like Padosan, Sadhu Aur Shaitaan, Mere Hamdam Mere Dost, Man Ka Meet and Do Kaliyaan, while only Gauri and Parivaar faired below average. In 1969, Manoj Kumar’s Sajan, Rajesh Khanna’s Doli and Sunil Dutt’s Chirag were all successful, while Jeetendra’s Badi Didi faired poorly. Manoj Kumar’s Purab Aur Paschim (1970) was a huge hit, while Raj Kapoor’s Mera Naam Joker (1970) unfortunately flopped, despite all the critical acclaim. Dilip Kumar’s Gopi (1970) met with moderate success. Shakti Samanta’s Amar Prem (1971), starring Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila in lead roles, was a commercial and critical hit. Om Prakash played a pivotal role in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Buddha Mil Gaya (1971) for which he won critical acclaim. Om Prakash worked with Rajesh Khanna again in Apna Desh (1972) and in the comedy flick Joroo Ka Ghulam (1972), both of which were big hits. Dharmendra’s Loafer (1973) was another successful film in Om Prakash’s kitty. He then did Zanjeer (1973) starring Amitabh Bachchan in the lead, which won huge critical acclaim as well as box-office success. Manmohan Desai’s Aa Gale Lag Jaa (1973) was a run away hit too. Dilip Kumar’s Sagina (1974) flopped, but was quite appreciated. Manmohan Desai’s Roti (1974), starring Rajesh Khanna and Mumtaz, was a huge hit. Om Prakash then featured in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Chupke Chupke (1975) which is even today considered one of the best comedies ever. Gulzar’s Aandhi (1975) also won huge critical acclaim. Julie (1975), starring Laxmi and Vikram, was a big commercial and critical success too.
Amitabh Bachchan’s Lawaaris (1981) was a huge hit, while Shashi Kapoor’s Maan Gaye Ustaad (1981) faired about average. Om Prakash then worked in more comedies like Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Naram Garam (1981) and Sanjeev Kumar-Moushumi Chatterjee starrer Itni Si Baat (1981). Om Prakash then acted in two huge hits in 1982, viz. Amitabh Bachchan’s Namak Halaal and Rishi Kapoor’s Prem Rog. Badle Ki Aag (1982) and Dharam Kanta (1982) faired about average. He then featured in Rajkumar Kohli’s Naukar Biwi Ka (1983), starring Dharmendra in the lead. The movie was a big hit. One of his best performances in his later years was in Prakash Mehra’s Sharaabi (1982), where he played a critical role. This was a huge hit too. He then appeared in a couple of action flicks, viz. Raaj Tilak (1984) and Kali Basti (1985). Basu Chatterjee’s Chameli Ki Shaadi (1986) was another great comedy. Om Prakash’s last few releases included Muqaddar Ka Faisla (1987), Insaniyat Ke Dushman (1987), Kalyug Aur Ramayan (1987), Bees Saal Baad (1988), Ghar Ho To Aisa (1990), Pati Patni Aur Tawaif (1990), Pratikar (1991) and Ghar Ki Izzat (1994).
Om Prakash won the Filmfare Award in 1968 for Best Comedian for Dus Lakh (1966).
Om Prakash had an office at the Roop Tara Studios which was only used for “rummy sessions” and “chat sessions”. He loved reading good books. He loved poetry. He loved good music. He loved beauty. Madhuri Dixit was his favourite actress. Om Prakash and music diector C Ramchandra first became friends when the latter scored the music for the song ‘Baap bada na bhaiyya, sabse bada rupaya…’ which was picturised on Om Prakash in Sargam. They then joined hands and produced films like Duniya Gol Hai, Jhanjhar and Lakeeren. The films flopped unfortunately and their partnership ended, but their friendship continued. Om Prakash then launched his own production company and made films like Bhaiyyaji, Gateway Of India, Chacha Zindabad, Sanjog and Jahan Ara. The successful actor, however, could not be a sucessful producer. Nevertheless, he helped his brothers, Bakshi Jung Bahadur and Pacchchi to establish themselves as producers and leaders of the industry. Om Prakash’s wife, Prabha died 7 years before him. He died on 21 February 1998 in Mumbai, India of a heart attack.Srivastav, Avtar Gill