Yash Chopra: King of romance

Yash Chopra: King of romance
New Delhi Director Yash Chopra has died of multiple organ failure in Mumbai at the age of 80. Mr Chopra had been in hospital being treated for dengue since October 13. He is survived by wife Pamela and sons Aditya and Uday.

Yash Chopra's 22nd film as director, Jab Tak Hai Jaan, starring Shah Rukh Khan, Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma will release on November 13. He had announced his retirement from directing on his 80th birthday.

Yash Chopra was born on September 27, 1932 in Lahore. The youngest of eight children, one of whom was elder brother B R Chopra who became a director and producer, Yash Chopra developed an early love of watching Hindi films. Brother B R Chopra wanted him to study engineering but a young Yash went to Mumbai with Rs 200 in his pocket and his mother's blessing to forge a career in film.

In Mumbai, Yash Chopra worked as an assistant with I S Johar and then with his brother B R Chopra. Two years later, he landed his first film as director - Dhool Ka Phool in 1959. His elder brother had given the film to O P Bedi, his chief assistant on Naya Daur. Yash Chopra, the junior assistant, got the job after O P Bedi left to direct another film. Dhool Ka Phool, a social drama starring Rajendra Kumar, became a critical and commercial hit.

In 1965, Yash Chopra directed Waqt which also became a hit and set the trend for 'lost and found' films. It fetched Mr Chopra his first Filmfare award.

In 1971, Mr Chopra founded Yash Raj Films, which meant that he could now independently produce the films he directed. His films, till then, had been produced by his brother B R Chopra. Among his earliest successes with Yash Raj Films was 1975's Deewar starring Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor and Parveen Babi. Deewar broke many stereotypes of the time and catapulted its cast and its director to the top of the box office charts. Deewar won Mr Chopra another Filmfare award.

Despite Deewar's enormous success, Yash Chopra began moving away from drama and action to romance, which became his favourite genre, with 1976's Kabhi Kabhie. The term "Yash Chopra romance" became a veritable genre of its own in Bollywood down the years, with films such as Chandni (1989), Lamhe (1991), Dil Toh Pagal Hai (1997) and Veer-Zaara (2004). The 'Yash Chopra heroine' was also spoken about with awe. In an interview with Shah Rukh Khan on his 80th birthday, Mr Chopra spoke about what it was about the "Yash Chopra treatment" that made his heroines look especially beautiful. He said, "God has made women beautiful. I respect all women. I don't see any badness in them. I am doing my duty by making God's beautiful creation even more beautiful."

In 1981, Yash Chopra pulled off what is acknowledged to be a casting coup of sorts with Silsila, starring Amitabh Bachchan, his wife Jaya and Rekha. Rekha played the 'other woman' in the movie, a role she was popularly believed to have assumed in real life as well.

Yash Chopra was also a kingmaker of sorts in Bollywood. He directed Amitabh Bachchan in one of his star-making roles, one of two brothers who becomes a smuggler. 1973's Zanjeer, directed by Prakash Mehra, may have marked the beginning of Amitabh Bachchan's Angry Young Man persona but Deewar was the film that established it. Mr Chopra would also direct Amitabh Bachchan in Kabhi Kabhie, Trishul, Kaala Patthar and Silsila. Deewar also launched the careers of writer duo Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar.

Yash Chopra was also responsible in shaping Shah Rukh Khan's career, first directing him in 1993's Darr. He then cast SRK in all his next movies - Dil Toh Pagal Hai (1997), Veer-Zaara (2004) and the yet-to-be-released Jab Tak Hai Jaan. SRK has also been cast in other films produced by the Yash Raj banner, most notably Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (1995) and Mohabbatein (2000), both directed by Mr Chopra's son Aditya.

Yash Chopra won six National Awards and 11 Filmfare Awards among a slew of honours. He received the Padma Bhushan in 2005 and the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2001.
Story First Published: October 21, 2012 19:53 IST

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