Deepa Gahlot: Yash Chopra – good, gracious and warm!

22 Oct,2012

In the shark-infested waters of Bollywood, you can’t honestly say about many people, that he was a good human being. Yash Chopra was – good, gracious, warm, with that sense of old-style Punjabi bhaichara that’s hard to fake… or replicate. Never mind what you thought of his films, he greeted you with a smile. As industry power centre and leader, he was constantly surrounded with obsequious people – he actually managed to ignore all the toadying and retain his simplicity.


He lived a long and charmed life, active till the age of 80 when, after wrapping up Jab Tak Hai Jaan, announced his retirement from directing on his birthday.


When he had made Veer Zaara in 2004, this critic had called it his swan song… it was a distillation of all his concerns, a looking back at an age of innocence and pure love. No, he had corrected… this is not the end; till he had stories to tell, he would make films. But, he had also ruefully admitted that the kind of script and dialogue writing that appealed to him was getting harder to come by.


The man who took Hindi cinema overseas, and pioneered the diaspora film trend said in an interview, “We are losing a lot of things in our culture. In our music, the soul is gone… the Indian melody is gone. They say that the market is dictated by the youth and get away with anything. China and Japan have not lost their identity. The advantage of going global is that people are rejecting formula films. They are patronizing new kinds of cinema. The disadvantage is loss of identity. You hardly see Indian costumes in our films any more, or hear Indian melody. You hardly get to hear powerful dialogues in our films. In the old days there used to be special dialogue writers with a knowledge of the language, who wrote those dialogues that people still remember. Maybe now people want simple, colloquial dialogue, but you don’t hear audiences clapping any more, or crying in emotional scenes. Dialogue ka zamana chala gaya.”


Yashji, as everyone called him, had come to be known for his romantic films with his chiffon-clad heroines and dashing heroes, but fact is he was always been a trend-setter and always a little ahead of the times, which is why Yash Raj Films turned into an industry force. It may have had inputs from his son Aditya Chopra, but the senior Mr Chopra’s business and creative faculties were razor-sharp.


Let’s not forget, he made some hard-hitting films like Dhool Ka Phool, Dharmaputra, Ittefaq and later Deewar, Trishul, Kala Patthar. To him goes the credit for the multi-starrer trend with the evergreen Waqt. Once his romantic films clicked, however, he switched tracks and after films like Kabhi Kabhie, Silsila, Chandni and Lamhe, made the youthful Dil To Pagal Hai and poignant Veer Zaara.


And even if it took him eight years to come up with that one last film, nobody could ever say, Yashji ka zamana chala gaya. Even after he has gone, he has left enough films, trends, stars, songs and emotions behind for film fans around the world to remember him by – a legacy that goes far beyond the formidable gates of his YRF Studios.


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