The son of Lahore is no more with us in flesh and blood. But he lives on in his films and in the sweetest emotion known to humankind – Love. Not many have the ability to make a movie completely on emotions. In his films emotions are the essence, actors are simply the medium to deliver them. (In comparison, many of today’s actors idea of enacting true-to-life emotions is shaking some parts of your face almost like they are suffering from a minor attack of epilepsy ) The lavish sets were mere props, not the heart and soul of his film ever. But he was not just a film maker who made romantic films, though that was a branding he very happily accepted.
Yash Chopra was an offbeat film maker, he thought of issues at a time when those issues were not spoken about. In fact when he debuted as a director under his brother BR Chopra’s banner, he made a film that spoke about a Muslim Couple bringing up a Hindu child. (Dhool Ka Phool) And a couple of years later making a film about a Hindu family bringing up a Muslim child. (Dharamputra). Both the films he had the same heroine, in Dhool Ka Phool Mala Sinha was Hindu, and in Dharamputra she was a Muslim Yet no brows were raised. He believed that the script is the god of the story, and the characters are mere navigators that help take one scene to the other. The series of films that we experience today with similar themes is a trend that was initiated then.
Yash Chopra didn't merely reinvent the wheel. He made new sturdy roads to run those wheels on. How can we forget the film in which Asha Bhosle croons “Yehi Waqt Hai Karle Poori Aarzu…" the song is a mood-enhancer. From the pen of Sahir Ludhianvi this song from Waqt is immortal, revered for several generations thereafter. This film was a lost-and-found-after-many-years tale. Yeah, the same tale that became “run-of-the-mill” years later. This also started the trend of having multiple "stars" in one film.
The first truly love story film could well be Aadmi Aur Insaan, I say so, because love, lust and jealousy was the central theme of this story. This is where the real branding essence of the “Yash Chopra Romance” began. Though Aadmi aur Insaan, a triangle love story, was not as a big hit as the films that followed. Aadmi aur Insaan marked the entry of a hero – FerozKhan, who got his first film-fare award for Supporting Actor. Then in his tribe of romantic films, followed the much popular Daag. The Rajesh Khanna starrer Daag, spoke about illegitimacy and Bigamy without making an issue out of it. It was a film about a kind soul who gives an illegitimate child his name when the world thinks he is dead. Only to realize that his first wife was pregnant when he was presumed dead. Only to have a blast-from-the-past years later. Again, this film won Rakhee the best actress award. What’s interesting to note is the fact that Yash Chopra, introduced the character “Chandni” with this film. With Chandni yash initiated an association with Juhi Chawla in the song Lagi Aaj Saawan
Yash Chopra was fascinated by the lives of innocent convicts. The theme of his film Joshila where he directed Dev Anand and Hema Malini was based on the aforementioned setting.The film also touches upon themes of poverty and disparity of wealth. The film has a very complex story by Gulshan Nanda, it almost looks like Yash Chopra wanted to put all the genre’s together in one single film.
Then came Ittefaq that was of a totally different genre. It was a murder-suspense mystery staring the then superstars – Rajesh Khanna and Nanda. The film was remake of an American film. It was remade with high emotive value and with great dialogues and a water-tight screenplay. The essence storyline was copied. Though not a happy copying trend that followed later. Ittefaq was “inspired” in the true sense of the word. This film helped Yash grab his first ever filmfare award which was I think the only award that honoured film talent then.
After this Yash Chopra focused on issues and family stories he connected with best. Deewar is a film that we all know about. The family feud, and the drama of the good son, bad son is something that most of the houses could relate to. How could one every forget “Mere Paas Maa Hai” when mentioning bollywood. With this, I could say that Yash Chopra films were becoming more real. It was no more something that happened in that house with that person, this was something that happened in our own household.
Kabhie Kabhie was a film that set the box office on fire. It is a film that grows on you. A film about a child’s quest to meet her biological mother is a complete bollywood masala. This move has a time span of 20 years, this film is trans-generational. Half sisters Neetu Singh and Naseem are still remembered.The same kind of s fervour is displayed in Trishul which was all about family feud. Drama, illegitimacy and complex human relations.Taking more complex causes cinematic-ally, Kala Pathar focused on the lives of Coal Workers. The film was largely issue based, It took up the rights of the aam mazdoors who were not given basic medical attention. It also focused on the difficult lives of naval officers.
Then came the real silsila of bollywood. Silsila was of the romantic genre and marked the beginning of the alleged Rekha- Amitabh romance. Many stories were floating around about the film and the leading ladies. I remember of having read a film glossy that said that Silsila was a competition between JayaBhaduri and Rekha. I wondered though, how could Amitabh base his judgement on the on-screen performances. Yash Chopra’s character – CHANDNI came alive in this film. And it was Rekha after Rakhee who was given this character to play.
Three years later Mashaal was released. While most of Yash Chopra films focused on the mother-child equations. With this film Yash Chopra was focusing on a different area. This film focused on the intricacies of the relationship between the father Dilip Kumar and the son – Anil Kapoor. This was where Yash’s association with Anil Kapoor started.
Yash Chopra made some films that are forgettable too. No one remembers Faasle. Faasle is a film starring Rekha and Farah Naaz ( Actress Tabu’s sister). This film was a total dud in the box office. May be the timing was not alright.
Then was the time for Vijay. Yash Chopra loved the character so much that he named Amitabh Vijay in many films. Finally, when he made the film titled Vijay, he did not have Amitabh Bachchan in the cast. In fact, the film doesn't have any character by the name of Vijay. The film is an expansive family drama with Anil Kapoor playing an important role. The film marked the beginning of the relationship of Yash Chopra with Anupam Kher who plays an aged widower and Sridevi who has a little guest appearance in this film.
The relationship that Yash Chopra forged with Sridevi in Vijay, was taken forward with a full length author backed role in Chandni. Yash Chopra made two films back to back based on his favourite screen characters – Vijay and Chandni. Looking back, he named Rakhee, Rekha, Farha chandni. But when he finally made a film by that name, he gave the honour to Sridevi to essay the character. And the film is still known for it's pristine whites - depicting moonlight. It is said that years back, before the phenomenon called Sridevi entered the scene, It is said that, Yash Chopra had shared his desire to cast Rekha in this author backed role, which she refused.
Lamhe was the film closest to Yash Chopra’s heart. The film was way way ahead of its times. The film was about a man falling in love with the mother and the daughter. Well, it was not unusual in the hindi film industry, with the age difference between people like Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu being 24 years or even Rajesh Khanna and Dimple who could easily be father-daughter. The film was a complete dud, despite having a wonderful and an original storyline. The film won Sri her second hindi filmfare award. And is counted amongst one of the favorite love stories of all times by many.
After suffering huge losses in Lamhe, Yash Chopra produced and directed Parampara. Not many know, that it was actually Yash Chopra who introduced Saif Ali Khan. This film starred Aamir Khan, Neelam, Raveena Tandon and was quite a family drama. This film flopped as well. Yash Chopra was at the receiving end of critics for this film. His direction abilities were questioned too. It was necessary for Yash Chopra to come up with a hit film.
And Darr happened. This Sunny Deol – Juhi Chawla starrer would have actually had Aamir Khan, juhi’s QSQT star playing her obsessed lover. But Aamir is reported to have had several differences post Parampara, it is also reported that Aamir wanted several changes in the scriptand Yash was not willing to make those changes. Aamir’s loss was Shahrukh’s gain. Bollywood got the superstar – Shahrukh Kkkkkkkkkkhan.
The Journey with Shahrukh continued. All the landmark films that made shahrukh khan what he is today could be attributed to Yash Chopra and Karan Johar. Yash Chopra continued his film making with shahrukh in "dil toh paagal hai". Dil Toh Paagal Hai was a musical treat. And there was a huge song and dance about it. Yash Chopra teamed up with ShaimakDavar for some wonderful dance moves, that won shaimak a national award too. Yash Chopra faced a lot of issues in finalising the second female lead. The role was offered to Kajol, Juhi Chawla, Manisha Koirala and finally it landed in the lap of Karisma Kapoor. And though Karisma got the role that was rejected by many, she immortalised it just as her sister Kareena immortalised Jab We Met. Much that it won Karisma her only national award.
Veer Zaara was his next where he made a film on the India he was born in and the india that he is in now. He was born in a part of india - lahore, which was now in Pakistan. He placed Zaara in pakistan and Veer Pratap Singh in Punjab, India. And created this hindu muslim and india pakistan film. Incidentally, the religion of the real life and the reel-life characters are just opposite. Preity Zinta a hindu plays Zara- a muslim, and shah rukh a muslim plays Veer Pratap Singh – a hindu Punjabi. It is rumoured that Rani’s role was originally written with Aishwarya Rai in mind, but Aishwarya turned it down. Also, the gossip is that Preity's role was offered to Kajol. The film also had Madan Mohan’s music that was produced posthumously. He had left the notes that were re engineered by Sanjeev Kohli, who besides being Madan Mohan’s son is also the CEO of Yash Raj Studios. Another interesting fact about this film is the fact that this film was supposed to be called “yeh kahaa aa gaye hum” which is a song from the iconic film of Yash Chopra – Silsila.
The last offering of Yash Chopra is Jab Tak Hai Jaan. The film has music by A R Rahman, and is a emotional thriller. The film storyline is very similar to that of Daag and an Italian film starring sophia lauren, that i would rather not name to keep the suspense on.
It is interesting to note that all of Yash Chopra films had very strong female characters. Several of this themes were about illegitimacy and orphans. He showed us that it was not necessary to strip to your bare minimum for orgasmic pleasure. Fully clothed actors holding hands in love and sharing a love moment could be more seductive than a hip-gyrating love making scene. He made several careers. His storytelling abilities made several characters larger than life. Though he was much respected and revered, he did face a lot of difficulty in getting people to play the author backed roles he designed. Heroines kept refusing the roles that he approached them for, but finally everything would fall in place. He is one of the most revered directors. And would always be.
Long live Yash Chopra.