At a time when sons of successful and esteemed film makers were dreaming of or planning careers in the glamorous field of acting, Ramanand Sagar’s handsome son Prem Sagar joined the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune soon after completing his education at St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai and emerged from the FTII with a gold medal for the best academic student of the year and a silver medal for the best photographed student film. Unlike most other aspirants from the Institute, Prem Sagar did not have to wait for employment as his family’s production house, Sagar Arts, one of the most respected and successful production houses in the Hindi film industry, was ready to absorb him immediately. His eminent father, Dr. Ramanand Sagar, entrusted him with the cinematography of Lalkar a romantic film set against a war backdrop which was then going on the floors under the Sagar Arts banner.
The Dharmendra - Mala Sinha - Rajindra Kumar starrer, "Lalkar", went on to win several awards, including prestigious recognitions for its cinematography, marking the debut of a sensitive and imaginative cameraman.
"Lalkar" was the beginning of Prem Sagar's distinguished career as a lensman who made the actors look more gorgeous than they always did and the outdoor locations appear out of this world. His vision so complemented the romantic vision of Ramanand Sagar that it was a visual treat for cinema lovers when Sagar Arts movies hit the screen.
Prem Sagar was associated as a cinematographer or technical adviser with the ever popular and memorable films of Sagar Arts, including Ankhen, Charas, Bhagawat, Hamrahi, Pyara Dushman, Armaan, Jalte Badan, Badal, Prem Bandhan and Salma. As a DOP of "CHARAS" most critics till today praise how the dream girl Hema Malini had been glamorized like never before. He won several recognitions and critical acclaim for his contribution as the cinematographer of Humrahi starring the youth icons of the time, Randhir Kapoor and Tanuja.He took the next step which was expected and became a director with Hum Tere Ashiq Hain starring Jeetendra and Hema Malini, which got ecstatic reviews for the subject inspired by Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion and its visual charm.
AWARDS & HONOURS:
Prem Sagar has to his credit a total of 15 awards as Director of Photography and many accomplishments in the field of still photography. The honours include the prestigious fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain and the Artiste Federation Internationale de L'Arts Photographique Paris. Two more bright feathers were added to his cap when he won Silver and two Bronze medals at Oregon State Fair and at the celebrated International Photo Competition at Santiago, Chile, South America, respectively. He also won a prestigious UNESCO award at Tokyo, for his skill and visualization.
In the year (2009) he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement honour by Indian Television Academy and next year the 2010 Telly Chakkar Life Time Achievement award. He also figures in the Indian Television Academy’s compilation of 100 TV personalities who created history in the broadcast medium. He has served on the Governing Council of FTII, on the examining panel of the UPSC, the selection panel of the Western India Cinematographer’s Association, the jury of Apsara, Screen and Filmfare awards.
In 2018 Prem Sagar was awarded a fellowship by the India International Photographic Council, the only non-profit organisation in India that encourages serious study of photography and has the membership of legendary professionals of the art of photography.
TELEVISION CAREER AS A MAKER AND MARKETING HEAD OF SAGAR ARTS:
In the eighties with the advent of Television in the country, Prem Sagar took up the challenge of exploring the new medium and its mass viewership potential. Prem Sagar produced and directed Indian Television’s first fantasy soap, VIKRAM BETAAL. The serial telecast on Doordarshan in a non-prime slot became a blockbuster and set the pace for the Sagar banner's full-fledged entry into television with the epoch-making Ramayan in 1987. Prem Sagar after initial research, set-up, Videography, special effects took complete charge of Marketing the free commercial time in the telecast hour of Ramayan which was a non-prime hour on Sunday at 9am. Along with the history created by the huge success of Ramayan on Doordarshan, a lesson for marketing students also came to the fore. A passionate cameraman had changed tracks and set a record in software marketing with nothing but a will to achieve the impossible. Doordarshan got its first feel of moolah pouring into its coffers when Ramayan, followed by SHRI KRISHNA, took the revenue generation of the channel to a phenomenal 130 crores only as telecast fees.Prem Sagar’s farsighted vision enabled the marketing of Ramayan in 55 countries making it the world's most viewed television serial. His successful experiments with merchandising of VIKRAM BELTAAL, the fantasy, set the trend of merchandising and franchising.
Prem Sagar also has to his credit the launch of the family's successful productions on VCD, DVD formats and achieving skyrocketing sales with innovative marketing including Photoshop designing. He produced Ramayan, Shri Krishna, Hatim, Sai Baba, Jai Ganga Maiya, Prithviraj Chauhan, Chandragupta Maurya and directed Jai Maa Durga, Mahima Shani Dev Ki, Jai Jai Jai Bajrang Bali and Basera for various television channels.
In TV serial “Sai Baba '' as a producer and creative he left no stones unturned – creating history of locations like “Dwarka Maai” with bhakti and credibility – with “Sai Baba” becoming a hit on Star Plus. The influx of pilgrims increased multifold and Sai Baba temple in Shirdi became a household name all over India and abroad.
In 2010 Prem Sagar helmed the run of Sagar Arts phenomenally successful mythological serial Mahima Shani Dev Ki as its Creative Head. The serial ran for 3 years on Imagine TV.
Another feather in his cap was added with the huge popularity of the serial Jai Jai Jai Bajrang Bali on Sahara TV. The serial had 700 episodes run on the channel.
Having grown up in an environment of literature and fine arts, having followed his deeply religious parents in their quest for spiritual knowledge and wisdom, Shri Prem Sagar naturally acquired a fondness for reading and assimilating spiritual and devotional literature. His involvement with Dr. Sagar in the making of the serials gave him exposure to the cultural and spiritual traditions and customs practiced by Hindus since time immemorial.
Citations & Awards of Prem Sagar:
- T. V. serials - Vikram Betaal • Ramayan • Shri Krishna • Alif Laila • Ganga • Mahalaxmi • Sai Baba • Durga • Bajrang Bali • Shani
- Over 20 awards all India for TV serials
- Indian Television Academy’s-100 TV Personalities who created history in the broadcast medium
- Life Time Achievement award-Indian Television Academy
- LifeTime Achievement award-TellyChakkar
- LifeTime Achievement award-Indian Flim Festival - Kuala Lumpur - Measat
- Gold & Silver medal - Motion Picture photography Film & Television Institute of India M.P.P - FTII - (Poona)
- Over 15 awards all India for best cinematography –
- Films - Lalkar • Charas •Hamrahi •Jalte Badan
- ARPS - U.K. - Associate - Royal Photographic Society
- AFIAP - Paris - Associate - Federation de l’art Photographic
- FELLOW – India International Photographic Council – New Delhi - India
- Silver Medal - Oregon State (USA)
- Bronze Medals - Chile
- UNESCO Awards - Tokyo