By Akanksha Gupta Last Updated:
Born on September 5, 1952, in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, to D.N. Chopra, who was the half-brother of veteran filmmaker, Ramanand Sagar, and Shanti Devi Mahalakshmi, Vidhu Vinod Chopra is a prominent name in the film industry. Founder of Vinod Chopra Films, Vinod had studied at the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune. The way Vinod has been experimenting in his filmmaking journey since 1976, has set him apart in his league, where filmmakers are keen on making potboilers.
Do you remember the dialogue, 'Success Ke Peeche Mat Bhaago, Excellence Ka Peecha Karo, Success Jhak Maarke Tumhare Peeche Ayegi', from the film, 3 Idiots? It was not only the life mantra of Rancho (Aamir Khan) in the film but also is the philosophy of Vinod Chopra Films since its inception. From a child, who learnt his first 'A for Apple' lesson in grade eight and pursued his dream of being on film posters to becoming one of the most prominent directors, writers and producers of the Hindi film industry, Vinod has come a long way. As much inspiring his professional journey is for aspiring artists, his personal life has been a roller-coaster ride, full of ups and downs. Let's take a look at his failed marriages and love story with his wife, Anupama Chopra.
Vidhu Vinod Chopra is a Punjabi Kashmiri, born and brought up in Srinagar and his parents are originally from Peshawar, Pakistan. He had studied only Hindi and Urdu till class eighth. Vinod's father was an honest insurance agent, which is why they were 'very very poor'. It was Vinod's father, who had introduced him young to Khalil Gibran and Mirza Ghalib, so his entire childhood was spent in that. Recalling what his father taught him, Vinod was once quoted as saying by the Bombay Times:
"He would say, 'Galli ka mochi banna, but become the best mochi.' And that always stayed with me."
Because he was a 'first class student', Vidhu Vinod Chopra's parents wanted him to become a doctor. However, after finishing his BA, Vinod joined FTII to pursue his passion for filmmaking. He was selected by one of the greatest filmmakers of Indian cinema, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, for his short stories written in Hindi. Vinod's time spent in FTII was the biggest learning for him and after graduating from there, his struggle was 'very less'. Vinod made a Diploma film, Murder at Monkey Hill, which won the National Award and was also nominated for the Oscars. With the support of NFDC, Vinod made his first film, Sazaaye Maut in 1981.
Since his graduation in 1976, Vidhu Vinod Chopra has worked as a writer, director and editor in commercially and critically successful films like Parinda, 1942: A Love Story, Kareeb, Mission Kashmir, Munna Bhai MBBS, Parineeta, 3 Idiots, Sanju, Wazir, Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga and a lot more. His 2020 film, Shikara was dedicated to his mother, who left Kashmir after the migration of Kashmiri Pandits due to the Kashmir conflict in 1990, as the movie is based on the same theme.
Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Renu Saluja
Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Renu Saluja's is a campus love story. The then 19-year-old Chopra had fallen in love with Renu at the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune. Renu was then pursuing the editing course and Vinod was following his passion for filmmaking. During their formative years, Vinod and Renu felt the same for each other and decided to get married at the age of 19.
Besides reciprocating the feelings for each other, the lovebirds, Vinod and Renu also made a successful career together. The couple joined hands for the first time as professionals with Chopra's diploma film, Murder at Monkey Hill that was released in 1976. While Renu handled the editing, Chopra did the direction and fortunately, the couple won the National Film Award for the Best Experimental Film in 1977. Renu was a prominent name in the film industry as she worked as an editor with both mainstream and art-house cinema directors during the '80s and '90s.
The teenage sweethearts, Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Renu Saluja had happy wedlock but soon things became complicated when Renu stood firm on her decision of not bearing a child. Chopra's efforts to convince her went in vain and finally, they parted ways. It was a mutual decision and they went ahead with a legal separation in 1983. However, the couple remained friends and unfortunately, Renu succumbed to cancer in 2000. Eventually, a wonderful story of friendship came to an end!
In an interview with the Bombay Times, Vidhu Vinod Chopra had spoken about getting married at the age of 19 and being romantic at heart. Revealing that he had many affairs in Kashmir, Vinod had said:
"I was 19 when I married my first wife Renu Saluja in FTII. I have always loved women and had many women. I have always been a romantic at heart and have had many affairs in Kashmir, but now when I look back, I realise that I must have been crazy getting married at just 19. I remember Renu and I used to go to this yoga class and one day the yoga teacher asked me, 'Why has didi not come today?' I was so embarrassed that I did not have the courage to tell her, 'She is my wife.'"
Vidhu Vinod Chopra had described his first wife, Renu Saluja's demise due to cancer as a low period of his life. When asked about the lowest period of his life, Vinod had retorted:
"Surprisingly none. Coming from this small town, there is a strange kind of arrogance and confidence in me. There is a lot of Munna Bhai in me. But I think when Renu parted with me, was a low. We were married for 5-6 years and the reason we parted was that she did not want to have kids. Even after separating, we remained friends and she kept editing my films, but she was clear that she did not want kids. We then formally divorced. I felt very low when she died of cancer. She was a good woman and she didn’t have to go so early."
Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Shabnam Sukhdev
Even though his first marriage crumbled, the unease never affected his ability to be optimistic in life. Vidhu Vinod Chopra moved on in his life to marry a short-filmmaker, Shabnam Sukhdev somewhere in the mid-1980s. But reportedly this marriage didn't work out either. Soon, the couple backed away and let go of their marriage with mutual consent.
Vidhu Vinod Chopra was not a person to be bogged down easily. He continued to dream and fall in love. Soon, he moved on in his life and the Cupid struck him once again but this time, with its sharpest arrow. Vinod fell in love with a journalist and film critic, Anupama Chopra, who approached him for an interview in 1989.
Born as Anupama Chandra in Calcutta, India to Chandra-Parshad family, to Navin Chandra and Kamna Chandra, who was a scriptwriter. Kamna had written dialogues in movies like Prem Rog and Chandni. Anupama's sister, Tanuja Chandra is an Indian Film director and screenwriter, and her brother, Vikram Chandra is a novelist. Founder of Film Companion, Anupama had written several books on Indian cinema.
Well, it was not a great first impression for Vidhu Vinod Chopra by Anupama Chandra as she had irked the director by asking him for an interview for her story on 'Directors of Tomorrow'. Before the release of Parinda, Anupama called Vinod, who in turn angrily replied:
"What do you know about my yesterday? Do you know I've won 21 awards? Go do your homework."
Recalling the same, Vidhu Vinod Chopra had stated in an interview with Open the Magazine:
"Yeah, saala I had been nominated for an Oscar (for An Encounter With Faces)… and some chick calls me (mimicking in a posh voice), "I want to feature you in directors of tomorrow." I said, "What? Look at my past.""
After this incident, Anupama Chandra left for the US to pursue her studies and described Vidhu Vinod Chopra as "arrogant" to her mother. Later, when Parinda released in November 1989, just like everyone, Anupama was 'stunned'. Then she told her mother, "He's brilliant, please work with him." Vinod signed Kamna Chandra for his film, 1942: A Love Story and it marked the beginning of his formal acquaintanceship and love story with Anupama. Vinod and Anupama then met cordially and during the making of the film, love blossomed between them.
Vidhu Vinod Chopra was smitten by Anupama Chandra and on June 1, 1990, the couple had tied the knot. One is a famous filmmaker and the other is a top film critic. Despite their different perspectives, Anupama and Vinod bring the best in each other and stand strong together. In fact, to express his love and admiration for Anupama, Vinod filmed Kareeb (1998) as a tribute to her. In the interview with Open the Magazine, when the couple was asked, "Did you two fall in love during 1942: A Love Story or Kareeb?", Vinod had retorted:
"No, no, Kareeb I made for her. Mera calculation galat ho gaya (I miscalculated), and I made her kind of movie. I was so much in love that I made Kareeb for her. That girl (the heroine) was her, the giggling mother was her mother. I got jacked because it wasn't my kind of movie at all. It was the most expensive love letter ever written."
Vidhu Vinod Chopra was asked who does he love the most in the world today and without any second thoughts, he named his wife, Anupama Chopra. Revealing how he's become a better person with Anupama by his side, Vinod, in an interview with the Bombay Times, had said:
"My wife Anupama Chopra. She has changed me. I have been with her for 20 years. I was a very arrogant, difficult, volatile and violent man. I am a much better human now living with her. She has brought out the best in me. She makes me want to be a better person and for her, I am constantly trying to be a better person. Can you imagine at the institute, I used to carry a big knife with me as I was anti ragging. I wasn't showing off. I would have actually killed anyone who would have ragged. Ragging stopped as they all knew how violent I genuinely was."
Vidhu Vinod Chopra has a daughter named Ishaa Chopra with his second wife, Shabnam Sukhdev. Vinod and Anupama Chopra are blessed with two kids, a daughter, Zuni Chopra and a son, Agni Dev Chopra. Zuni is an author, known for her novel, The House That Spoke and two books of poetry. The art of storytelling runs in her DNA and she has always been fascinated by the same. Speaking to Scoopwhoop, Zuni had once talked about the pressure on her and was quoted as saying:
"I am not a child prodigy, I sometimes find it unnecessarily pressurising. I really work hard. I am not a genius, I struggle, but for most days, I work really hard at juggling between my writing and academics. It is tough, but if you like something, you automatically take time for it. It was hard, because I also take my studies very seriously. It is hard work managing school and writing."
According to celebnetworths.com, Vidhu Vinod Chopra's net worth is estimated to be 30 million dollars. Anupama Chopra's net worth is estimated to be around one million dollars by celebrityhow.com.
So, it's all about the zeal and passion in a relationship. The uneven matrimonial journey of Vidhu Vinod Chopra is a great example to reflect that "Love is possible for more than once in a lifetime". It's all about the right time, person and hope. Age and number hardly count in matters of love.