Just a few weeks back, when Yash Chopra celebrated his 80th birthday, he said that Jab Tak Hai Jaan, the movie he was working on with Shah Rukh Khan, would be his last. His fans hoped that the film-maker would be back with more films, but his words proved to be prophetic. He died at Lilavati hospital in Mumbai where he was being treated for dengue.
Here, during the celebrations for his 80th birthday on September 27, he spoke on his life in films with Shah Rukh Khan:
Film-maker Karan Johar spoke fondly on him recently: To Uncle, From L’il Pappoo:
My introduction to the Yash Chopra school was his film Kabhi Kabhie. I was obsessed with it, went crazy when I saw it the first time. I had formed this mental picture in which the maker of the film was this dynamic superstar, someone larger than life. Then one night Yash uncle and his wife, Pam aunty, came home for dinner. It was a weeknight and I had been tucked into bed early for school the next day. I remember I had told the servant to wake me up when he arrived. I saw him through the door that I had deliberately kept ajar. And my immediate reaction was “but he looks like my father”. Yash uncle and Pam aunty have been like mom and dad to me. The connect is emotional. They are part of my personal more than professional memories though I do remember how I forced my dad to take me to the sets and premiere of Chandni and Lamhe. Later Yashraj’s Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge became my training ground as a filmmaker.
Yash uncle and my late father, Yash Johar, were these hysterically funny Punjabi men together. They would always talk in Punjabi. They would get excited about getting 50% senior citizen discount for movie tickets in New York. Here were these two well to do, much respected men who’d get elated for getting a $8 ticket for $4...
Today’s Internet generation knows Yash Chopra for Chandni, Lamhe and Dil To Paagal Hai but are not aware that he was a pioneer in so many ways. He tackled the lost-n-found theme in the multi-starrer Waqt much before Manmohan Desai came to be identified with the formula. He made a song- less thriller called Ittefaq. It was made on a play and wrapped up in 27 days. He made a multi-generational romance like Kabhi Kabhie and revenge dramas like Deewar and Trishul. Dharamputra, a social issues film, dealt with communalism in the backdrop of Partition. His films have an elegance of characters, are emotionally affluent. In films like Daag, Silsila and Lamhe he dealt with the grey zones within of human beings. The characters were in the borderline of grey and he didn’t punish them on the black and white logic. He has been rooted in Punjab but understands the urban dynamics, has a strong power of observation that made his urban films very real.
He is so alive at 80. He is aware of the current world cinema, knows more than people half his age. It is superb to have a gossip session with him, he is so well connected with everyone and everything...
Yash uncle is a very funny man. He can keep you in splits with his dry sense of humour. In the middle of a conference or public meeting he’d say something in your ears that would make you crack up. But he is not phone savvy at all. For him a phone call is merely an exchange of information and he just keeps the phone down when he thinks that the information flow is over. You have to tell him right at the start the things you are going to talk about so that he doesn’t abruptly cut the call...
Though Yash uncle has announced that Jab Tak Hai Jaan will be his last film as a director am sure he will continue to be the powerhouse of Yashraj Films. Even today Adi (son Aditya Chopra) seeks his approval for everything. He understands the business dynamics, has the gut for making the right financial decisions, the instinct for right financial moves. He is clued into the market, knows how to leverage the brand to optimum level.
Read the full article: To Uncle, From L’il Pappoo