Remembering Yash Chopra

yash-chopra

 By Renu Chandarana @renujc

Entertainment Writer, Masalamommas

Yash Chopra, labeled “the eternal romantic,” sadly passed away on October 21st 2012 in Mumbai’s Lilavati Hospital at the age of 80.

His career began in 1959 when he directed his first film Dhool Ka Phool, under the guidance of his highly successful older brother B.R. Chopra. Ever heard of that Hindi TV series called Mahabharat?  Well, Mr. B.R. Chopra created that epic series.  These men were visionaries of the grandest proportions!  Yash was learning the tricks of the film production trade from his older brother and he was gaining some critical acclamations fast.  The duo were a force to be reckoned with – introducing stars like Shashi Kapoor and Dharmendra to the world and also introducing the idea of an ensemble cast – having more than just one hero and heroine star in a film.

Photo Credit: CanIndia

 

In 1971, it was time for Yash to fly solo and start his own empire.  He founded Yash Raj Films, and produced his first independent film in 1973, Daag: A Poem of Love, starring heartthrob of the era, Rajesh Khanna.

 

In 1975, Yash cast Amitabh Bachchan in his film Deewar, which perpetuated the “angry young man” persona that Amitabh was developing in the film industry.  Yash Raj Films continued to churn out hits in the late seventies and early eighties like Kabhi Kabhie (1976) and Silsila (1981) – both featuring Amitabh Bachchan, both with strong themes of romance as well as the idea of ‘dutiful’ love (you’re married, therefore it’s your duty to love your spouse…even if you love someone else!)

 

After a series of misses in the eighties, Yash released the classic, “Chandni” (1989) starring Sridevi.  The soundtrack of the film is completely amazing but also this film was one of the first of its era to orient around the leading lady – Sridevi was the focus as opposed to Rishi Kapoor, the male lead.  It also was noted to be one of the first films without any violence!

But seriously…that’s all fine and dandy…sure Yash Chopra had some serious successes during my parents generation of Hindi Cinema…but why am I so passionate about the films he’s made?  Two names: Shahrukh Khan and Rani Mukerji.  Yash Chopra was instrumental in shaping their careers.

 

He’s sort of their Garry Marshall to Julia Roberts by Hollywood standards, yeah sure she debuted in Hollywood with some lesser-named films, but it wasn’t until Pretty Woman that the world saw THE Julia Roberts!  It’s sort of the same idea here.  Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995) still plays at the Maratha Mandir movie hall in Mumbai – over 15 years later and the young SRK can still be seen in that theatre!

 

In Rani’s case, sure Karan Johar introduced her in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998) but Yash Chopra kept her career going strong with Mujhse Dosi Karoge! (2002), Saathiya (2002), Hum Tum (2004), Veer-Zaara (2004), Bunty Aur Babli (2005) and really I could go on and on with all of her Yash Raj Films titles, there are plenty more!

 

So now that you know a bit of his history and why he’s so relevant to in the Hindi Film Industry…here’s a reason why I cherish Yash Chopra and his films so much: his pursuit to tell epic love stories and keep them relevant.  I find myself getting emotionally attached to his more recent films.

 

Watching the retro flick Kabhi Kabhie (1976) now, as much as the soundtrack makes my heart melt, the story is seriously ridiculous and would invoke a laugh out loud at the plot line. You can read it for yourself here http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0074730/synopsis since it’s not very straightforward. The romance in this films lies in the incredibly romantic poetry, dialogue and songs. Take the song “Kabhi Kabhie Mere Dil Mein,” for example.  The lyrics translate to:

 

Sometimes the thought crosses my mind

That you’ve been made just for me

Before this, you were dwelling somewhere in the stars;

You were summoned to earth just for me…

I’ve got a lump in my throat just typing it…those words, those lyrics were what drew our parents into the film, not necessarily the story line.

Fast forward to Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995) and for my generation, it’s not so far fetched that an unmarried Indian girl would go on a trip to Europe and meet the love of her life.  That plot line is hella romantic!  Or how about Salaam Namaste (2005) – an Indian couple that lives in Melbourne, choosing to enter a common law relationship that not only has its ups and downs but also results in a child. That’s pretty realistic and forward thinking. Yash Chopra knows how to tug on those heartstrings – regardless of what decade we’re living in!

 

Although the legendary producer and director is with us no more, his legacy lives on with his two sons.  Aditya Chopra, producer and director who studied under his father’s wing and has taken over the family business, and Uday Chopra, an actor in some of their titles. I really look forward to seeing how Yash Raj Films progresses under this new generation and if the epic romances continue.  Yash Chopra’s last directorial credit to his name, Jab Tak Hai Jaan (2012), is due for release this Diwali, November 13th.  It stars Shahrukh Khan and Katrina Kaif.

 

I encourage you to take the time to watch some his films – two of my favorites are Silsila (1981) and Veer-Zaara (2004) but in all honesty, any one of his films would do.

 

For a list of titles under the Yash Raj Films banner visit: http://www.yashrajfilms.com/IntroPage.aspx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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