By Ashima Gujral:
“He was eighty years young, not eighty years old.”- Mahesh Bhatt
On the 27th of September, 1932, in Lahore, Pakistan, the eighth child in the Punjabi Chopra family was born. He was the youngest child, who was meant to shine like a star in the glittering world of Bollywood. He originally wanted to become an engineer, but destiny had its own plans. It brought Yash Chopra to Mumbai and led him to assist directors L.S.Johar and his very own brother B.R.Chopra.
And when Chopra himself adorned the director’s hat in 1959 with Dhool Ke Phool, it was just a mere trailer of his prowess that was to sweep the entire film industry off its feet in the years to come. With hits after hits like Dharmputra (1961) and Waqt (1965), he rode high on the success he encountered and finally started Yash Raj Films, the biggest production company in India, in 1973. Under the aegis of YRF, he produced numerous classics like Deewar (1975), Kabhie Kabhie (1976), Silsila (1981), Trishul (1978) and various other films. Even though a major part of the 1980’s did not prove to be very fruitful for Yash Chopra, he came back with a bang in 1989 with the highly successful film, Chandni.
He made Lamhe in 1991, which apart from being his favourite directorial venture, was also considered to be his finest work till date. The movie was replete with emotions, exceptional performances and music that touched the heart. It was owing to these reasons that the movie was featured in Outlook magazine’s list of All Time Great Indian Films.
Yash Chopra was a real trend-setter in Bollywood. He began the trend of an ensemble cast by virtue of the famous movie Waqt (1965) and he brought the beauty of foreign locations to Hindi cinema like never before; especially Switzerland (his favourite destination). Yash Chopra changed the rules of the game. Known as the ‘King of romance’, he not only virtually copyrighted the best love stories that were ever made in Hindi cinema with his formula of the famous ‘love- triangles’ and highly artistic sets in the Yash Raj Studios , but also polished and shaped the careers of the two of the greatest actors in Bollywood — Amitabh Bachchan and Shahrukh Khan.
To Amitabh Bachchan, he first gave the title of the ‘angry young man’ in Deewar and then gave him the two biggest romantic hits of his life, Kabhie Kabhie (1976) and Silsila (1981). For Shahrukh Khan, from being the obsessed lover in Darr(1993) to the romantic hero in films like Dil To Pagal Hai(1997), Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge(1995), Mohabbatein(2000), Veer-Zaara(2004) and now Jab Tak Hai Jaan(2012), Yash Chopra was the man behind them all, either as the producer or the director. Simply put, a major chunk of the industry owes its career to Yash Chopra.
The film fraternity and the world at large have always been very kind and appreciative of Yash Chopra’s films. Apart from various Filmfare awards and international awards, he won the national award twice as a producer, was honoured with Padma Bhushan in 2005, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2001 and lifetime achievement award at IIFA.
After spending over five decades in Bollywood, Jab Tak Hai Jaan was to mark his retirement from the film industry as a director as he now wanted to concentrate on his production company YRF and also wished to spend time with his wife Pamela and sons Aditya and Uday Chopra. An adventure enthusiast and a free-spirited being, he was caught by a bout of dengue and a multiple organ failure on the 21st of October, 2012, stole the beloved man from us. But he, through his world and vision of cinema, will continue to live with us forever. For there can never be another Yash Chopra, there cannot be another King of romance.
R.I.P. Yash Chopra