Prem Chopra was born in Lahore and brought up in Shimla. His father wanted him to be a medico, but Chopra pursued performing arts in College and graduated from Punjab University. A Bachelor's degree was enough to fetch him a job at “Times of India” in the late 50's at Bombay. Simultaneously, he kept visiting studios and tried to get a break in films. In 1962, he finally got his break in a Punjabi film Chaudhary Karnail Singh , which won a National Award and got Prem the recognition he wanted. He then gave a commendable performance in another Punjabi film Sapni (1963). In those early days, someone directed him to go for villainous roles. Since then he hasn’t looked back.
Prem Chopra made his debut in Bollywood with the Bharat Bhushan-starrer Mud Mud Ke Na Dekh in 1960, which didn’t do too well. He then appeared in Ram Mukherjee’s Hum Hindustani (1960) which gained mediocre success. In Raj Khosla’s Woh Kaun Thi (1964), starring Sadhna and Manoj Kumar in lead roles, Chopra gave an enthralling performance. He also gave excellent performances in Prithviraj Kapoor’s Sikandar E Azam (1965), Manoj Kumar’s Shaheed (1965) and Shammi Kapoor’s Teesri Manzil (1966). Sunil Dutt-Sadhna starrer Mera Saaya (1966) and Manoj Kumar’s Upkar (1967) were excellent films as well. Chopra started becoming more and more popular as the ‘bad’ guy. Raj Kapoor’s Around The World (1967) and Rajendra Kumar’s Jhuk Gaya Aasmaan (1968) faired below average. Chopra also did Shashi Kapoor-Sharmila Tagore starrer Aamne Saamne (1967) and Rajesh Khanna’s Doli (1969) which gained mediocre success. Rajendra Kumar’s Anjaana (1969) was an average affair, while Rajesh Khanna’s Do Raaste (1969) became a blockbuster. Chopra then featured in Manoj Kumar’s Purab Aur Paschim (1970) which was a big hit. Kati Patang (1970), also starring Rajesh Khanna and Asha Parekh, was another big success and Prem Chopra’s performance was again commendable. He again worked with Rajendra Kumar in Aap Aaye Bahaar Ayee (1971) which failed unfortunately, and in Gora Aur Kala (1972) which was successful. Dev Anand’s Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971) was a huge success. Manoj Kumar’s Be-imaan (1972) was a huge commercial and critical success. Feroz Khan’s Apradh (1972) was a mediocre success, while Dilip Kumar’s Dastaan (1972) flopped. Yash Chopra’s Daag: A Poem of Love (1973), starring Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore, was a very big hit. Jheel Ke Us Paar (1973), starring Dharmendra, was a mediocre success, while Rishi Kapoor’s and Dimple Kapadia’s debut film Bobby (1973) and Manoj Kumar’s Sanyasi (1975) became huge blockbusters. Rajesh Khanna’s Prem Nagar (1974) was also successful. Prem Chopra’s performance in Do Anjaane (1976), also starring Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha, won him many accolades. The movie also was a commercial and critical success. This was followed by a few flops like Dilip Kumar’s Bairaag (1976), Rajesh Khanna’s Mehbooba (1976), Rishi Kapoor’s Barood (1976), Feroz Khan’s Jadu Tona (1977) and Shashi Kapoor-Amitabh Bachchan starerr Imaan Dharam (1977). Jeetendra’s Dildaar (1977) and Dharmendra’s Dream Girl (1977) did fairly well. In 1978, Chopra did a few good films like Dev Anand’s Des Pardes, Dharmendra’s Azaad, Amitabh Bachchan-Shashi Kapoor starrer Trishul, Jeetendra’s Dil Aur Deewar and Dharmendra’s Phandebaaz. Shakti Samanta’s The Great Gambler (1979) flopped badly, while Yash Chopra’s Kala Patthar (1979) did average business. Vijay Anand’s Ram Balram (1980) and Ramsay’s Saboot (1980) did quite well. Chopra also performed in Raj Khosla’s Dostana (1980), starring Amitabh Bachchan and Shatrughan Sinha in the main lead. It was a huge success. Manoj Kumar’s Kranti (1981) became a huge blockbuster. Manmohan Desai’s Naseeb (1981) also did well. Sanjeev Kumar’s Hatkadi (1982) and Manmohan Desai’s Desh Premee (1982) were moderately successful. Raj Kapoor’s Gopichand Jasoos (1982) and Amitabh Bachchan’s Andhaa Kanoon (1983) were also good films. Chopra again played the scoundrel well in Rajesh Khanna’s Souten (1983), but the movie didn’t do great business. He also featured in Sunny Deol’s and Amrita Singh’s debut film Betaab (1983) which was a huge success. Chopra then did more entertainers like Haqeeqat (1985), Arjun (1985), Mard (1985), Nagina (1986), Watan Ke Rakhwale (1987), Hukumat (1987), Shahenshah (1988), Mitti Aur Sona (1989), Rakhwala (1989), Aag Ka Gola (1990), Phool Bane Angaarey (1991), and others. He also did Mast Kalandar (1991), in which he and Anupam Kher provided good laughter despite being the bad guys. Chopra and Anupam Kher appeared in many movies together after that. Abbas-Mastan’s Khiladi (1992) was a mediocre hit, and is known to be a great thriller. Chopra played the suspicious father-cum-minister role quite well. He then did many action flicks like Aaj Ka Goonda Raaj (1992), Kshatriya (1993), Phool Aur Angaar (1993), besides others. All of them faired about average. Chopra then did more family entertainers like Laadla (1994), Raja Babu (1994), Gupt: The Hidden Truth (1997), Dulhe Raja (1998), Anari No.1 (1999) and Baadshah (1999) which were pretty successful, while others like Aao Pyar Karen (1994), Zamaana Deewana (1995), Saajan Ki Baahon Mein (1995), Prem Granth (1996), Maharaja (1998) and Hindustan Ki Kasam (1999) had failed to do well. Chopra then did Abbas-Mastan’s Chori Chori Chupke Chupke (2001) which did average business, but had some good performances. He also featured in the blockbuster film Koi… Mil Gaya (2003), directed by Rakesh Roshan. His next few releases like Dil Pardesi Ho Gayaa (2003), Shikaar (2004) and Khullam Khulla Pyaar Karen (2005) had flopped. In the hit flick Bunty Aur Babli (2005), Chopra played a saintly Sardar. He also featured in Viruddh… Family Comes First (2005) and Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Maara (2005), both of which were critically acclaimed films. His next few releases like Vaah! Life Ho To Aisi! (2005), Mr Prime Minister (2005), Umar (2006), Saawan: The Love Season (2006), Salaam-E-Ishq (2007), Undertrial (2007) and Buddha Mar Gaya (2007) had all flopped, while the comedy flick Dhamaal (2007) was a mediocre hit. Prem Chopra will appear in the following forthcoming films: Humsey Hai Jahaan (2008), also starring Jackie Shroff and Givinda. Jaane Bhi Do Yaron (2008), also starring Anupam Kher and Vijay Raaz.
In 2004, he won the "Legend of Indian Cinema" Award at Atlantic City (United States). He also received a "Lifetime Achievement Award". He was also honoured with the "Indira Gandhi Priyadarshini Award" in 1998, the "Lions Club Award", "Ashoka Award", "Ashirwad Award" and the "Punjabi Kala Sangam Award". He represented India as Grand Marshall in Chicago on August 15th, 1993 during the Independence Day Parade. There he was honoured by the Chicago Mayor as the 'Honarary Citizen of Chicago' and felicitated by the Federation of Indian Association with an award for outstanding contribution to humanitarian causes and enriching the Indian commuity in India and abroad.