Written by Parveen Maghera
As a big part of Bollywood empties with Yash Raj Chopra’s departure, the legend is reborn through his works and talent, all paid off through the numerous number of blockbuster films directed and produced since the late 1950s. From his directorial debut, Dhool Ka Phool, to modern-day romance film Jab Tak Hai Jaan, Chopra has inevitably displayed a variety of screenplays tackling what he knows best : LOVE.
“Relationships interest me because man is one creature who is capable of sane as well as insane behaviour. It’s this nature of human beings that inspires and gives room for innumerable plots.”
Chopra’s 1973 directorial, Daag – A Poem of Love, broke away from conventional film stories of the era in the Indian Cinema, and was described as one of Chopra’s iconic love-triangle stories of his early director days. Adapted from the novel The Mayor of Casterbridge, written by British author Thomas Hardy, Daag beautifully portrayed the love and trust between a husband and wife, and the helplessness of a third party.
And of course, what is a Bollywood film without a series of good music? Daag, categorised as a musical, I must say, is one of the very few films of those days that have spaced out each number, which perfectly gel together. It couldn’t have been better without Rajesh Khanna’s and Sharmila Tagore’s brilliant characters as Sunil and Sonia, topped with brilliant vocals by the legendary Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar. A few songs include Ab Chahe Maa Roothe, Mere Dil Mein Aaj and Hum Aur Tum. Ask any old film fan of Rajesh Khanna, he or she could just sing the entire song to you!
Sources have also said the film was the first ever to be housed under the Yash Raj banner. Financier Gulshan Rai did warn for a lukewarm box-office response, thus the film was marketed in a low profile manner. Rumours claimed that Chopra approached Khanna for this film without a single penny! Yet, Khanna decided to carry on with the film. Regardless, Chopra claimed the Filmfare Award for best director! So you tell me, is it talent or money that counts?
Another of Chopra’s films, embodied with emotions, lifted his filming career to greater heights. Filmfare awardist, Deewaar (1975) portrayed a tensed, light, sombre and comical aura which left audiences in awe. Even thirty years from now, Deewaar leaves a great impact on film-lovers of the Indian Cinema. It is a classic, never forgotten.
Along with beautiful original dialogues by Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar, Chopra’s great creativity produced impactful visuals on screen with the mind-blowing talents, Amitabh Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor. The story revolves between these two characters, who used different paths to provide a blissful life for their mother but due to their differing ideologies, they create a wall of hate between them, thus the title.
Chopra’s imagination for films and its characters clearly defines his style and it always leaves with them a trait often brought forward to other films. For instance, Chopra’s character, Vijay, played by Amitabh Bachchan, gave the actor himself a title of Angry Young Man and it carried on in other films like Don (1978) and Shahenshah (1988).
A character’s identity is defined by a director’s imagination, of which Chopra had gone beyond boundaries to explore.
Kabhie Kabhie – Love is Life (1976) is Chopra’s second directorial film with Amitabh Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor, who were upcoming actors then. Of course, as the title entails, it is evident that Bachan’s tough side was put aside for a much heart throbbing character, and Shashi and Rishi Kapoor’s flirty personas beautified the storyline much more.
It seemed like a multi-level love story, with each character’s life entwined into another, much of which is credited to Chopra’s ability to connect his characters into a web of lovebirds. It was Chopra’s creativity that had led to this magnificent production, alongside his wife’s, Pamela Chopra and Sagar Sarhadi who wrote the film. It hit the 8th highest grosser mark of the year at the Indian Cinema Box Office.
Silsila (1981) appeared to be a love-triangle on a surface, however, the story lies within the film. It is one of Chopra’s mindworks behind this film, penned by him and Sagar again. Although the film did not do quite well at the box office, it was watched by a wide Indian audience. Known to be a true story of the actors themselves (Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachan and Rekha), Chopra’s touch of romance made the film one of his kinds.
Seemed as a controversial film of that time, due to rumours of Bachchan’s affair with Rekha, the film was tough to digest among the Indian audience, as it involved one of the major Bollywood stars, Big B himself (thus the downfall at the box office). Yet, with melodious soundtrack and the heartthrob Bachchan, topped with the elegant Jaya and the gorgeous Rekha, it remains as a must-see till today!
Darr (1993) comes as one of a twist in Chopra’s filmmaking career as it explored a different angle of love. Written by Honey Irani and Javed Siddique, Darr is, what it shows, a violet love story, where a woman is caught between a her man’s love and another’s obsession.
Starring Juhi Chawla, Sunny and Shah Rukh Khan, Darr was known to be “an answer to Bollywood’s fatal attraction” and much credit of this film’s amazing plot was given to the antagonist, Shah Rukh Khan.
Chopra’s directing sprouted the evil in Khan’s acting (K-k-k-kiran – Bolly fans, you will know this), which was further seen in movies like Baazigar (1993), Anjam (1994) and even Don (2006). Though they weren’t Chopra’s directorials, it was him who spotted the potential in Khan as a villain. Khan was also nominated as Best Villain in the Filmfare Awards. Chopra was awarded the Silver Lotus Award at the National Film Awards for the best popular film providing wholesome entertainment.
Next comes, Dil Toh Pagal Hai (1997), which happens to be Khan’s second film with Chopra. As the second highest grossing movie of 1997, this musical romantic drama managed to capture a huge segment of the younger audience. Yes, the film touches on the modern day love scene of the time, with, of course, Khan as the ever young and dashing lover boy who, like every other, never believed in love. The film carries forward a tagline, “Someone somewhere is made for you” which pulled together the entire story, and just like Chopra’s films, characters’ lives are entwined into one another’s. Madhuri Dixit and Karishma Kapoor star alongside Khan, enhancing viewers’ experience with their ever-so mesmerizing personas.
Written by Chopra himself, along with his wife Pamela Chopra and Tanuja Chandra and dialogue by his son Aditya Chopra, Dil Toh Pagal Hai swept away with numerous awards, a few of which were Best Dialogue and Best Actor and Actress.
Another of Chopra’s major blockbuster hit would be his all-time favourite, Veer Zaara (2004). The film depicts a love story between a Muslim girl and a Punjabi boy and as the film progresses, the story takes a unique fold, intensifying audience till the very end. This was one of the films that have got many eyes swollen red with tears.
Chopra’s work on the characters, acting and emotional development throughout the film gave it a unique identity by itself. His film style clearly portrayed his professionalism and never by far has any film (to me at least) reached the emotions of a mass. It also educated the public on the issue of racism, honour and sacrifice every human being is entitled to, may he/she be a Muslim or a Sikh and had nothing to do with politics!
“Though it’s a film about cross-border love, there isn’t a word of politics in it. Forget politics, there isn’t slap, not even a raised voice in Veer-Zaara. It’s a very intense, humane and emotional story.”
Fully written by Aditya Chopra, Veer Zaara deserves more than just 20 awards on its list, including Filmfare and National Film Awards. It, however, comes to my surprise that Chopra was just nominated for the Filmfare Awards when he deserved a hell lot of praise and credit as a director. He truly deserved the award! Nevertheless, he won the Golden Lotus Award at the National Film Awards for the best popular film providing wholesome entertainment whilst his son grabbed the Filmfare Award for best dialogue.
Chopra’s last directorial, Jab Tak Hai Jaan (2012), starring Shah Rukh Khan, Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma, releases worldwide on 13th of November 2012, which happens to fall on Diwali. Produced and directed by the man himself, the film, yet again, revolves between three individuals, but it is not similar to Daag, which have been rumoured to be. King Khan had denied all rumours, claiming that the storyline is beautiful, yet, “not at all similar” to Daag. Well, afterall, Chopra’s talent produces fresh pieces all the time, never is anything similar to another, and not forgetting the effort put in by his son, who had written the script.
A portion of a song was said to be incomplete, however, the crew have no intention of resuming its shoot, as they did not want to “tamper the signature style of the late filmmaker”. The film, as per Chopra’s last wish, started promotions from his hometown, Jalandhar, Punjab. Indeed, the respect and dignity the Indian Cinema has for this legend will never be lost , even by the slightest.
“I believe in my old style of making films. I think I have it in me to make a different film in my own area of romance. Films on human relationships never go out of fashion. Everyone says ‘I love you’ these days. But it’s about how you say it.”
It comes to no other conclusion than to applaud Chopra’s mindblowing filmwork, of which he never is regretful of, but takes pride and faith in.
Along with him are the numerous talents he has worked with, in the past and present, as a director and a producer, each individual who had the chance to collaborate with Chopra on his film adventures have had memorable experiences, some of which would be hard to illustrate.
Let us give this man a toast to his incredible journey this far and rejoice the successes he has accomplished.
“What matters as an artist, is the applause. While I offer my condolences to the family who would want to mourn, I would rejoice the life you have lived.”
- Kamal Hassan
“He was a true veteran and an era is over with his passing. He will be missed.”
“He was my anchor, mentor and idol.”
- Mukesh Bhatt
“RIP Yash Chopra, Jab Tak Hai Jaan all are trending, that shows how great Yashji is.”
- Shah Rukh Khan
“Yash ji was my anchor, my quiet strength and my father figure in Mumbai.”
- Anupam Kher
“As I sit beside his still and flower decked body in his studio within the portals of the large common patio, there does not pass a moment when all that we shared flashes by. This colossal studio that he built after years of hard work and labor, shall for the next day house his last physical remain. I doubt if he had ever dreamt that this unique and most distinguished facility would find space to accomodate him in the state that we see him today.”
- Amitabh Bachchan
“He was an entire institution in filmmaking. He made every frame look so beautiful. There’s so much misery, squalor and poverty in real life. The man on the street went to see a Yash Chopra film to live a dream where everything was picture-perfect, where women were lovely visions in chiffon saris shot against picturesque backdrops in Switzerland and Amsterdam (Netherlands). I am proud and privileged to have given voice to Yashji’s lovely heroines.”
- Lata Mangeshkar