An air of gloom pervaded Mohalla Gobindgarh, where Raj Villa, the ancestral house of filmmaker Yash Raj Chopra is situated, the moment the news of his death reached this Jalandhar locality on Sunday.
Most of his family members were preparing to go to Mumbai to attend his cremation.
"He was a down to earth person who used to guide us in taking major family decisions. Being the youngest of five brothers and three sisters, he was the most pampered," said Suman Chopra, daughter-in-law of Hans Raj Chopra, Yash Chopra's eldest brother, tears rolling down her cheeks.
"After his brother BR Chopra died four years ago, it was he who took on the mantle of our family and imbibed good values in us. He did not feel like coming to Jalandhar after the death of my father Lalit Chopra four years ago. When I requested him to visit us, he assured me that he would attend the weddings of my children," said Suman's daughter Bhakti Mehta.
Yash Chopra's last visit to Jalandhar was seven years ago when he had come to attend the 'mundan' ceremony of Suman's daughter Aradhna Bhandari's son.
Sharing the memories of the celebrated filmmaker with Hindustan Times here on Sunday, Chopra's childhood friend and classmate Madan Kapoor, a film distributor, said, "Yash Chopra, the 'King of Romance', was also a romantic at heart. He had a heady love affair with Pamela Singh, a Delhi-based girl, before he got married to her. Once I found him roaming with Pamela at Connaught Place in Delhi. We had lunch together. While both of us were insisting on paying the bill, Pamela eventually paid for the lunch."
Recalling that Yash was an obedient brother and an intelligent student throughout his school and college days, Kapoor, who studied with him from Class 6 right up to graduation, said, "He used to tell me that he wanted to be like Raj Kapoor while we were in Doaba College. He nurtured this ambition and attained great heights in the film industry. Yash, Bodi Nanda, who later became the first Indian to head UK-based Metal Box Industries, and I were best friends. I have lost a great friend today."
Kapoor recalled that Yash, a student of the government senior secondary school on the Ladowali road here, was an active member of the school's dramatics club.
"He remained associated with his college till his last breath. During his 2004 visit to the college, he pledged to donate Rs. 1 lakh every year to his alma mater and remained true to his word," said Chander Mohan, president of the Doaba College management committee.
Chander Mohan recalled that he had once asked Yash how he had managed to cast Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha in "Silsila", to which the filmmaker replied with a smile in chaste Punjabi: "Pata nai kiddan manage kita. Bas main star cast announce keeti, te pehli flight farr ke Switzerland daur gaya is to pehlan ki koi controversy hundi. (I don't know how I managed it. I boarded the first flight to Switzerland after announcing the star cast of the film so as to avoid any controversy.)"
BD Bibra, Chopra's English professor, recalled how Yash used to come to college wearing 'chappals' and carrying a wooden stick, and spend much of the time in the open air theatre.
College principal Naresh Dhiman said Yash was a regular contributor to the college magazine "The Doab".