New Delhi: "I have never made romantic films. I have made films on human relations, and humans are complicated people," filmmaker Yash Chopra had said on his 80th birthday, ironically after a career spanning five decades of some of Hindi cinema's best remembered romance classics. He was the man who taught Indian filmmakers to dream big, painting a motley canvass of love, heartbreak, separation and drama.
Chopra passed away in Mumbai at the age of 80. He had contracted dengue. Film trade analyst Taran Adarsh said he passed away at 5:30 PM on Sunday quoting a message from Yash Raj films.
During a live televised chat on his birthday with his protégé and actor Shah Rukh Khan, Chopra said "I think I've had enough Shah Rukh". Though he was referring to his last film with the superstar, Jab Tak Hai Jaan, the legendary filmmaker's words proved prophetic as news of his death shocked the film fraternity.
He was a man who taught Indian filmmakers to dream big, painting a canvass of love, heartbreak and separation.
Born in 1932 in Lahore, now in Pakistan, the filmmaker came in Mumbai, then Bombay after Partition, with Rs 200 in his pocket, hoping to make it as a director.
His original plan was to pursue a career in engineering. However, his passion for filmmaking led him to travel to Mumbai where he initially worked as an assistant director to I S Johar, and then for his director-producer brother BR Chopra.
Chopra was a man who was incapable of doing things on a small scale. He filmed at beautiful foreign locations as a matter of routine, made the Swiss Alps as accessible to middle class Indians as Kashmir and created some of the most intense moments in Hindi cinema through his fluid style of direction.
He was favoured by leading actors with his movies seen as a sure-fire way to become a hit with audiences. He was one of the pillars in Bollywood and directed some of Indian cinema's most successful and iconic films, including the action thriller 'Deewar' which established megastar Amitabh Bachchan as the 'angry young man'.
The hit duo of Chopra and Bachchan worked together again in romantic drama 'Kabhi Kabhie' and drama 'Trishul'. If Shah Rukh Khan is called the King, Chopra was definitely the kingmaker and gave support and fillip to many an artiste's career and making them into superstars.
Although he began his career making different kinds of films, Chopra is today known mostly for the romantic films like 'Silsila', 'Chandni' and 'Dilwale Duhania Le Jayenge'. The term 'Yash Chopra romance' is used to typify the kind
of romantic films the filmmaker gave birth to in Bollywood. Considered among one of the greatest filmmakers in the history of Hindi cinema, Chopra's career has spanned over five decades and over 50 films.
Beginning his career as an assistant director, Chopra made his directorial debut with 'Dhool Ka Phool' in 1959, a melodrama about illegitimacy. Chopra has won several film awards, including six National Film Awards and eleven Filmfare awards including four Filmfare Award for Best Director.
Encouraged by the success of his films, the Chopra brothers made several more movies together during the late 50s and 60s. Chopra rose to fame in 1965 after the commercially and critically successful drama, 'Waqt', which pioneered the
concept of multi-starrers in Bollywood. In 1973, Chopra founded his own production company, Yash Raj Films, and launched it with 'Daag: A Poem of Love' with the hit onscreen pair of Sharmila Tagore and Rajesh Khanna.
However, in the '80s several films he directed and produced failed to leave a mark at the box office, notably 'Mashaal' and 'Vijay'. But Chopra rose like phoenix with the commercially and critically successful film 'Chandni' thus beginning his journey of making romantic Hindi films. He then directed and
produced the cult classic 'Lamhe' in 1991. His association with Shah Rukh Khan began with the 1993 romantic psychological thriller film 'Darr', which turned out to be a superhit with SRK playing the role of an obsessed lover.
Since then, Chopra has directed three more romantic films, all starring Khan - 'Dil To Pagal Hai' (1997), 'Veer-Zaara' (2004) and 'Jab Tak Hai Jaan' (2012) before he announced his retirement from directing this year.
"I have always had great experience working with him. He is one actor who has never asked me what the story is about, how much money he will charge... whatever amount I send him through cheque he takes that and rather asks me why did I give such a huge amount," Chopra said last month during his interview with Shah Rukh. Shah Rukh has also been a part of films like 'Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge' (1995), 'Dil To Pagal Hai' (1997), 'Mohabbatein' (2000) and Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (2008), which were produced by Chopra's Yash Raj banner. His last film 'Jab Tak Hai Jaan' is set to hit theatres on November 13.
Chopra's elder son Aditya Chopra is a successful director, carrying forward his legacy and taking care of the Yash Raj banner. His younger son Uday is now handling the international branch of their production house, besides brief stints in films.
"I am so happy with the film," Chopra said. "You always eat the tastiest dish at the end of your meal, that is how it is."
Chopra's disclosure, made at an event marking his 80th birthday with actor Shah Rukh Khan by his side, took the Indian film industry by surprise.
Chiffon sarees and the Swiss Alps are so synonymous with Chopra's style of film-making that Switzerland Tourism even offered visitors a guided tour of the places where the director filmed some of his most famous songs and scenes.
Chopra also produced Indian cinema's longest-running blockbuster, 'Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge' (1995), which marked the debut of his son Aditya as director. (Inputs from PTI)