Actor and RK Studios’ production manager Vishwa Mehra—fondly known as Mamaji—was one of the few veteran film personalities, who was part of the early golden years of Indian cinema. He appeared in various films, mainly the RK productions like Aag (1948), Barsaat (1949), Anari (1959), Prem Rog (1982), Ram Teri Ganga Maili (1985), Henna (1991), Prem Rog (1982), and Prem Granth (1996). He is also credited as the production in-charge of Aag, Awaara and Barsaat, as well as the production assistant of Jab Jab Phool Khile (1965), the production controller of Prem Rog, and the office-in-charge of Aa Ab Laut Chalen (1999). Known to have been closely associated with Raj Kapoor, he was regarded as one of the pillars of RK Studio, and a staunch and loyal protector of its legacy. Distantly related to Kapoor, he was also his oldest associate, standing by him through thick and thin.
The brother-in-law of Prithviraj Kapoor and the uncle of filmmaker Raj Kapoor, and actors Shammi Kapoor and Shashi Kapoor, Vishwa Mehra hailed from Peshawar, which is where the Kapoor clan trace their roots. ‘Mamaji’, as he was known, had come to attend the wedding of Raj Kapoor and Krishna Malhotra and never went back. He travelled along with Prithviraj Kapoor and his travelling theatre till he joined hands with Raj Kapoor to handle production for RK Studios for films like Aag, Awara (1951) and Shree 420 (1955), to name a few.
He also faced the camera as an actor, featuring in supporting roles, starting with Aag and Barsaat (1949) in which he was credited as Wishwa Mehra. He played a number of minor characters in a range of films, such as Chandu Pehelwan in Char Dil Char Rahen (1959), Bhimu in Jis Desh Men Ganga Behti Hai (1960), the hotel manager in Aashiq (1962), Moni Mama in Kal Aaj Aur Kal (1971), Niranjan in Annadata (1972), the luxury car owner in Chhalia (1973), Munshi in Patthar Aur Payal (1974), the jailer in Adalat (1976), Jai Singh in Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978), Mamaji in Kaala Aadmi (1978), Mahto in Prem Rog (1982), Postbabu in Ram Teri Ganga Maili (1985), Guptaji in Prem Granth (1996), and the bandit Lakhan Singh in Anokhi Raat (1968). In Teesri Kasam (1966) he featured in the song Chalat musafir along with Raj Kapoor, while Anari (1959) saw him essay the gentle advocate who prepares Mrs D’Sa’s will.
More recently, Vishwa Mehra had drawn attention when he attended the funeral of Raj Kapoor’s son Rajiv Kapoor in 2021. The 94-year-old Mehra, frail figure, stick in hand, bowed at the waist, and with moist eyes, paid his respects to the late Raj Kapoor’s youngest son. A witness to three generations of the Kapoor family, he had personally witnessed and been a part of their highs and lows over the decades.
Vishwa Mehra passed away on 5 October 2022.
Relatives (in films): Prithviraj Kapoor (brother-in-law), Raj Kapoor (nephew), Shammi Kapoor (nephew), Shashi Kapoor (nephew)
Image courtesy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuN2jzFOxpU