Visually, Yash Chopra was no less than a genius. Portraying love, romance and emotions in a way that was unmatchable, he won the hearts of many with a style that no one will be able to replicate. He started his journey as director back in 1959 and there was, literally, no looking back.
BizAsia pays a special tribute to Chopra looking at allthe films he wore the director’s hat for and how his vision made him legendary.
‘Dhool Ka Phool’ (1959)
‘Dhool Ka Phool’ marked Chopra’s first with the director’s hat on and surrounded a story of a Hindu child being brought up by aMuslim. Produced by BR Chopra, Chopra was able to showcase his vision and he succeeded even with this unconventional story.
Just three years after his debut, Chopra brought to the screens a story about the Indian partition in a complete flip of his first. The story this time was of a Hindu bringing up a Muslim child and starred Shashi Kapoor and Mala Sinha. The film also marked Kapoor’s introduction as an adult following appearances in films as a child artist.
‘Waqt’ will always remain a film that is special on this list. Starring greats such as Balraj Sahni, Sadhana, Raaj Kumar and Sunil Dutt to name a few and produced, once again, by BR Chopra, it was the film that made the list of consideration at the British Film Institute for the top ten Indian films. There was re-introduction in ‘Waqt’ of the reuniting of long lost relatives and also brought to the table the idea of a multiple star cast.
‘Aadmi Aur Insaan’ (1969)
‘Aadmi Aur Insaan’ marks the one and only time Chopra worked with Dharmendra. The films also starred Mumtaz, Saira Banu and Feroz Khan and surrounded a tale about friendship, sabotage, love and jealousy. Once again, this was a movie which brought together prominent stars on one platform.
In his second offering in the same year, Chopra directed a remake of the British film ‘Signpost to Murder’ (1965). With Rajesh Khanna and Nanda in pivotal roles, the film did mildly well at the box office.What was particularly significant about ‘Ittefaq’ was that it was one of the first films in Indian cinema without a soundtrack and minus any dances. It won Chopra the second Filmfare award in his career for Best Director.
‘Daag: A Poem of Love’ (1973)
‘Daag: A Poem of Love’ marked Chopra’s first production and gave birth to Yash Raj Films. The movie was adapted from the novel ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge’. Once again Chopra worked with Rajesh Khanna as lead and with Sharmila Tagore and Rakhee as the female leads. The movie did exceptionally at the box office what with Khanna being at the height of his popularity at the time. Coupled with an amazing soundtrack by Laxmikant Pyarelal and Kishore Kumar’s vocals, ‘Daag: A Poem of Love’ will remain one of Chopra’s best.
With yet another troubled love story, Chopra came back in the same year with Dev Anand, Hema Malini, Rakhee and Pran. The film surrounds an unconventional story but Chopra fills it with the beauty of love at its scenic best. The freshness of the romance is what makes ‘Joshila’ the kind of movie which has been stamped by Chopra.
‘Deewaar’ is about as legendary as Chopra’s cinema can get. In a story about a family who struggles to surviveonce the patriarch forces them out of their homes. The film helped get Chopra yet another Filmfare award and was a film which did well at the box office and for the actors (Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor, Parveen Babi, Neetu Singh) who worked in it.
‘Kabhie Kabhie’ (1976)
In 1976, Chopra brought to life a story which brought together Amitabh Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor once again. With an ensemble cast to compliment a plot which spans over two generations, Chopra’s representation of love through poetry sees light of day for the first time in the form of Bachchan’s character and poetry was indeed the conceptual birth of the movie. Bachchan was given a makeover in ‘Kabhie Kabhie’ into a lover rather than the previous label of angry young man.
‘Trishul’ brings together cinema greats once again in Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjeev Kumar and Shashi Kapoor in a tale of intertmingled fate. It was another which did well at the box office with Chopra’s depiction of the showdowns between the characters as well as the various stories which are separate but joined up in some way bringing a somewhat intricate plot to the screen in a simplistic way. Audiences recognised the trademarks of his style and ‘Trishul’ was well-received because of this.
‘Kaala Patthar’ (1979)
Amitabh Bachchan graces one more Chopra directorial alongside Shashi Kapoorin ‘Kaala Patthar’. However, unlike the previous collaborations of the three, ‘Kaala Patthar’ didn’t achieve quite as much popularity or success at the box office. Bachchan’s dialogues are few but the fire in his eyes is plentiful. The film also starred Shatrughan Sinha, Rakhee, Parveen Babi, Neetu Singh and Prem Chopra.
‘Silsila’ is perhaps one film of Chopra’s that is a perfect example of Chopra’s romantic self. Although the movie wasn’t appreciated quite so much at the time of its release, it has achieved a very coveted place in people’s hearts and memories as time has gone on. The film was surrounded by controversy duethe reel and real life depiction on the relationships between the protagonists played by Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan and Rekha. ‘Silsila’ also relied on Chopra’s love of poetry to represent the character’s romance. The soundtrack of the movie is very much cherished even today.
‘Mashaal’ releases in 1984 which was a stark contrast to ‘Silsila’ in both topic and rendition. It surrounded a newspaper called ‘Mashaal’ which was run by a man played by Dilip Kumar. Also starring the likes of Anil Kapoor, Waheeda Rahman, Rati Agnihotri and Amrish Puri, ‘Mashaal’ was hard-hitting and a little different to what Chopra had become known for, showcasing his versatility in vision.
‘Faasle’ is probably one of the most unappreciated of Chopra’s films as director. Surrounding the story of a widower who gives up his life for his children’s happiness and who stands in between his daughter and her lover, the film starred Sunil Dutt, Farha, Farooq Sheikh and Rekha in main leads. Itwasn’t received well at the box office.
‘Vijay’, once again, had a multiple star cast consisting of Rajesh Khanna, Hema Malini, Anil Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor, Meenakshi Seshadri, Sonam and more. It surrounded parents from a well to do family who are against their children falling in love with those who come from less privileged families.
Starring Sridevi, Rishi Kapoor and Vinod Khanna, ‘Chandni’ won a National Award for the most popular film and is one of the most successful films of all time. The film came to the rescue of all three of the main leads and was a true depiction, once again, of what Chopra does best; romance. It also put Switzerland firmly on the map for Indians and its association with Yash Raj Films.
‘Lamhe’ was Chopra’s favourite out of all the films he had done til date. Although not quite achieving the success at the time of release as it has seen in the following years, the film starred Sridevi, Anil Kapoor and Anupam Kher in the main roles. It is a love story with a difference with Sridevi playing the role of mother and daughter, one of which Kapoor falls for and the other which falls for him. The film did well overseas but failed to strike a chord with audiences within the sub-continent. Chopra’s beautiful portrayal of love in both the London and Rajasthan portions is undoubtedlythe film’s USP.
Although ‘Parampara’ was a commerical flop, it had all that Chopra stood for intertwined in it. Saif Ali Khan made his debut in this film opposite Neelam and the film also starred Raveena Tandon, Aamir Khan, Ashwini Bhave and Vinod Khanna. Chopra was criticised for his direction but the soundtrack did pretty well at the time. His portrayal of love, once again, is there for all to see.
Chopra’s representation of obsessive and destructive love was near perfect in 1993’s ‘Darr’. It is one of the few films that saw Shah Rukh Khan as an antagonist and also won him a Best Villain award at Filmfare. Juhi Chawla and Sunny Deol play the couple whose life is turned upside down by Khan. It was Khan’s first film with the Yash Raj Films banner and both the movie and the soundtrack did well at the box office. Thecredit of Khan as a villain for a second time can only be given to Chopra as Khan became one of the first to win a place in the people’s hearts with a role with negative shades.
‘Dil To Pagal Hai’ (1997)
‘Dil To Pagal Hai’ was Bollywood’s very first self-defined musical. This is one more movie which depicts what Chopra is all about in terms of love, romance and emotions. Surrounding the concept of soulmates, ‘Dil To Pagal Hai’ was about a musical group and their performances. It brought together three of the industry’smost populars stars; Shah Rukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit and Karisma Kapoor.
‘Veer-Zaara’ is probably one of the most heart-breaking love stories of Indian cinema. With the backdrop of the India-Pakistan conflict, Chopra gives life to a very human story between the unlikeliest of characters whose paths cross as if by chance. Two lovers, played by Shah Rukh Khan and Preity Zinta, are separated for 20 years and a lawyer, played by Rani Mukerji, helps them reunite and for their love to get the justice it deserved. The film was the return of Chopra after a gap of seven years. The music of the movie was particularly significant what with the basis being compositions of the late Madan Mohan.
‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’
‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’ will release on 13th November and will still mark the end of the directorial career of Chopra. He was to shoot the last song of the movie in Switzerland in his inimitable style which one would never have seen again but it seems it was just not meant to be. In a sad twist of fate, he will now not be able to see how the magic of his directorial final salute would be taken by the audiences.
Yash Chopra 1932 – 2012 – Indian cinema will never forget.