The doyen of hindi cinema, Yash Chopra, passed away Sunday in Mumbai's Lilavati Hospital after a brief illness following a dengue attack. Scriptwriter-lyricist Javed Akhtar shares his memories of the 'King of Romance' in Bollywood.
If I could define Yash Chopra in one word, I would say 'ageless'. Here was an 80-year-old man who defied age like no other filmmaker would. I knew him for over 40 years now, but each time I would meet him, he would surprise me with how his thoughts were getting younger with passing time. How else would a 'physically' old man whose contemporaries had all burnt out long ago not only continue to work, but make movies like a 25-year-old would.
Yash Chopra was one of those rare people who was not drawn by his ego. When he would decide the scenes in his films, any person present in the room, no matter how inconsequential, was welcome to give input, and Yash Ji was most open to taking it. No wonder his first film Dhool Ke Phool in 1959 was as young as people are likely to find his last film Jab Tak Hai Jaan in 2012 to be. They said | Trivia
I first met Yash ji in producer Gulshan Rai's office where he heard a script written by Salim (writer Salim Khan) and me. He liked it and said we'll soon be working together. Soon after we wrote Deewar for him and our association got stronger and stronger with films such as Trishul and Kala Patthar.
He was the one who insisted that I try my hand at writing lyrics and made me write songs for his film Silsila in 1981. That was the time when my children Zoya and Farhan and Yash Ji's son, Adi (filmmaker Aditya Chopra) were friends while growing up, and we used to spend most weekends doing family picnics.
Not many people know that Yash Chopra, who would often break into chaste Punjabi in the course of a conversation, was also a master of Urdu... and Urdu poetry to be precise. That's why you saw a strong poetic streak in all his films, be it Kabhi Kabhi (1976), Dil Toh Paagal Hai (1997) or Veer Zaara (2004).
He also was one of those in the industry who had the best sense of humour. Any conversation with him lasted twice as long as intended because he was so much fun to talk to, and that's why you would always see his friends looking for an opportunity to visit his bungalow Girnar at Pali Hill, because his warmth was very welcoming.
He and I were both on the board of Jet Airways and I met him last at the annual board meeting a couple of months ago. He was at his jovial best, cracking jokes and making great conversation. He very fondly invited me over to his house and I told him I would visit soon. I would now have to wait a lifetime for it. Rest in peace, Yash ji.
(As told to Sonal Kalra)
Yash Chopra's journey to silver screen success
In 1959, Yash Chopra got his break as a director with Dhool ka Phool, produced by his brother, BR Chopra. The film, based on the topic of illegitimacy, got Chopra not just critical appreciation but also went on to become one of the highest grossing films of the year. In 1961 came Dharamputra, for which he won his first National Award. In 1965, he won his first Filmfare Award for Waqt.
Kaala Patthar (1970-1980)
It was in 1971 that Chopra established his own production house, Yash Raj Films. His first production under this banner was Daag, a huge commercial success. In 1975, he gave Bollywood its own Angry Young Man in Amitabh Bachchan. Two years later came Kabhie Kabhie, and in 1978, he delivered Trishul - another blockbuster.
In 1981, Chopra gave the industry one of its most iconic movies - Silsila, bringing Amitabh, Rekha and Jaya Bachchan in one frame. In 1984, he collaborated with Dilip Kumar to bring out Mashaal. The film, though critically appreciated, was a dud at the BO. His 1989 movie, Vijay, did not see much success either. And just when it looked like Lady Luck was no longer smiling at Chopra, along came Chandni. Starring Sri Devi, Rishi Kapoor and Vinod Khanna in a love-triangle plotline, it caught the imagination of every romantic in the country.
In 1993, Chopra directed the musical thriller, Darr, with Sunny Deol, Juhi Chawla and Shah Rukh Khan. It shot Shah Rukh, then playing his second negative role after Baazigar, straight to fame. In 1997, he made another love-triangle, Dil To Pagal Hain with Shah Rukh, Madhuri Dixit and Karisma Kapoor in the lead roles. The film became one of the highest grossers of the year and won Chopra many awards. With this, Chopra decided to take a sabbatical from directing.
Jab Tak Hai Jaan (2000-2012)
2000-2012 In 2004, Chopra returned to the director's seat with Veer Zaara, a romantic saga. It became a big hit. Once again, Chopra took a break from direction and after eight years, he decided to give cinegoers a yet another Yash Chopra romance, Jab Tak Hai Jaan. The film is scheduled to release on November 13.