Born in Ludhiana, "B.R." received an M.A. in English literature from University of the Punjab in Lahore. He started his career in 1944 as a film journalist with Cine Herald, a film-monthly published in Lahore, he later took over the magazine and ran it until 1947. In the same year, he launched a film with a story by I. S. Johar, Chandni Chowk. Naeem Hashmi was hero of this movie and Erika Rukhshi was the heroine. Just as the production of film was to start, riots broke out in Lahore and he and his family had to flee from the city. After the partition of India into India and Pakistan in 1947, he moved to Delhi. He later moved to Mumbai, where his first production, Karwat, began in 1948, though it turned out to be a flop. His first film as a director, Afsana, was released in 1951 and featured Ashok Kumar in a double role – the film was a hit and established his name in Bollywood. Chopra made Chandni Chowk, with Meena Kumari as a lead, in 1954. In 1955, B.R. formed his own production house, B.R Films. His first movie for this production house was the highly successful Naya Daur (1957) starring Dilip Kumar and Vyjayantimala Bali, the film became a golden jubilee hit. In 1963, he was a member of the jury at the 13th Berlin International Film Festival.
B.R. was instrumental in developing the career of singer Mahendra Kapoor, whom he employed in most of his movies. (Director-producer Yash Chopra cast Mahendra Kapoor's son in Faasle.) One prominent thing about B. R. Chopra is that except for one or two songs in his films like 'Dhool Ka Phool' he did not allow Lata Mangeshkar's playback and stuck to Asha Bhonsle for all the remaining songs of his films. Also, Mohd. Rafi sang only a couple of songs for him (in 'Dhool ka Phool' and 'The Burning Tain'). The reason behind this was never revealed by him or the singers.
B.R. forayed into television with Mahabharat, one of the most successful TV serials in Indian television history. Another of his memorable TV dramas is Bahadur Shah Zafar.