If Hindi cinema is today singing new songs, the source music is ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ (The Brave-Hearted Will Take Away the Bride – 1995), the breakthrough directorial debut of the late Yash Chopra’s eldest son, Aditya Chopra. Known to the world by its acronym, DDLJ, it is still running theatrically - about 20 years and more than 1000 weeks after it was originally released. It is now the longest running movie in Indian cinema history. And the age of the director when he directed DDLJ: a mere 23.
Aditya Chopra was born in 1971 and became an avid film buff from his early childhood. And while his schooling in film started with viewing films, his college and university were his father Yash Chopra’s home productions. His own film career kicked off as an assistant to his father in ‘Chandni’ (Chandni – 1989), ‘Lamhe’ (Moments – 1991) and ‘Darr’ (Fear – 1993) followed quickly thereafter.
By the time he was 23, Aditya was ready to direct his first film, with the active encouragement of his father. Released on 20th October 1995, ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ (The Brave-Hearted Will Take Away the Bride) became not just one of the largest grossers in Indian film history ever but a landmark in Indian cinema. His singular touch was evident in every frame of the movie; and its freshness, wit, romance and chemistry between the lead pair – and the unique marriage of a hip modern sensibility married to a belief in Indian traditions won every heart over. DDLJ was truly an Aditya Chopra product in every sense. He was responsible for the story, screenplay and dialogue in addition to direction. He won every conceivable award for this film, including the coveted National Award for the Best Film for providing Popular and Wholesome Entertainment.
The British Film Institute also commissioned a book on this record-breaking film, under the BFI Modern Classics series. This is the first Hindi film to be chosen in this series of critical studies of international films produced over the last three decades, reflecting the enormous impact this movie had on global Indian audiences.
Aditya followed up the incredible success of DDLJ, by writing the screenplay and dialogues of ‘Dil To Pagal Hai’ (Crazy Hearts – 1997), directed by Yash Chopra. A sensitively written film on love and friendship, it was one of the most successful films of the year winning him India’s most respected award – the Filmfare Award, for ‘Best Dialogue’.
Aditya Chopra‘s second film as a director, ‘Mohabbatein’ (Love vs. Fear – 2000) was a worthy successor to his first film and was one of the top grossing films of the year. ‘Mohabbatein’ was also instrumental in reviving the then dormant career of superstar Amitabh Bachchan.
In 2004, Aditya Chopra donned the mantle of producer and created ‘Hum Tum’ (U n I) and ‘Dhoom’ (Blast), both of which achieved critical and commercial success and were amongst the highest grossing Hindi films of the year. These movies also heralded the advent of movie marketing techniques and efforts little seen in India till then. That year, he also co-produced and wrote the story, screenplay & dialogues of ‘Veer-Zaara’ (Veer and Zaara) – directed by Yash Chopra and once again was the biggest grossing film of the year. It helped him garner more Filmfare Award glory, this time for ‘Best Story’ and ‘Best Dialogue’.
In 2005, Aditya Chopra’s creative and marketing magic were unleashed once again with ‘Bunty aur Babli’ (Bunty and Babli) and ‘Salaam Namaste’ (Going all the way). Not only were they monster hits, the songs from these movies became raging hits and stayed on the charts for more than a year. Clearly, Yash Chopra’s magic touch with music had not passed his son by. The year culminated in the hip and contemporary ‘Neal ‘n’ Nikki’ (Neal and Nikki).
2006 saw the release of ‘Fanaa’ (Destroyed in Love). A different story, a unique star pairing, and the marketing magic of Yash Raj Films ensured that Fanaa topped box office records in India and was a raging hit across the world.
‘Dhoom:2’ (Blast:2), the second release of 2006, became a trail-blazer and created havoc at the box-office. A sequel to the earlier bikers film, the gross collections of ‘Dhoom:2’ in India as well as overseas shattered records.
With ‘Kabul Express’ (2006), Aditya Chopra produced his first film for an international audience – a new vision for a new vista. This was the first foray into this segment of filmmaking, with many more to come. The critically acclaimed ‘Kabul Express’ was also screened at various International Film Festivals.
The 2007 releases include ‘Ta Ra Rum Pum’ (The Road Back), ‘Jhoom Barabar Jhoom’ (Liars), ‘Chak De India’ (Go for it… India), ‘Laaga Chunari Mein Daag – Journey of a woman’ and ‘Aaja Nachle’ (Dance with me). ‘Chak De India’ was one of the most successful films of the year commercially and also won unprecedented critical acclaim and awards from all across the world.
The 2008 releases included ‘Tashan’ (That’s How We Roll), ‘Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic’ (A Li’l Love, A Li’l Magic), ‘Bachna Ae Haseeno’ (Lucky Boy) and ‘Roadside Romeo’ – the first full length animated feature film co-produced by YRF along with Walt Disney Pictures, the world leaders in animation. 2008’s last release was Aditya Chopra's third directorial venture after eight years, ‘Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi’ (A Match Made in Heaven) has been the highest grossing film of all-time for YRF.
The 2009 releases included ‘New York’, ‘Dil Bole Hadippa’ (She’s The 11th Man) and ‘Rocket Singh - Salesman of the Year’ (The Office). The 2010 releases included ‘Pyaar Impossible’ (She’s So Fine), ‘Badmaash Company’ (The Big Idea), ‘Lafangey Parindey’ (Dare To Dream) and ‘Band Baaja Baaraat’ (Wedding Planners), which launched Ranveer Singh in the lead and was one of the most successful films of the year.
1st January, 2010 marked the entry of “YRF Television”, spear-headed by Aditya Chopra, ushering a new wave of television viewing experience. The first season had a line-up of 5 new shows - 1 non-fiction (Lift Kara De) and 4 fictions (Mahi Way, Rishta.com, Powder & Seven) which were daringly different, contemporary and in line with sensibilities of today's Indian family. The second season had 2 new fiction shows (Khotey Sikkey & Kismat).
Under his vision, Yash Raj Films has launched a youth films studio, “Y-Films” in 2011. A dynamic, vibrant start-up at the intersection of films, creativity and youth culture that hopes to challenge the norm and detonate boundaries. Giving the youth a creative outlet and voice that will entertain and unite on film and beyond. Keeping with its vision of being a platform for new talent, Y-Films has already released 2 films in 2011 (‘Luv Ka The End’ & ‘Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge’) and 1 film in 2013 (‘Mere Dad Ki Maruti’) with more films lined up that will be a launch pad for new directors and stars..
The other 2011 releases were ‘Mere Brother Ki Dulhan’ and ‘Ladies vs Ricky Bahl’. The 2012 releases include ‘Ishaqzaade’, ‘Ek Tha Tiger’ and ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’. Films released in 2013 include ‘Aurangzeb’, ‘Shuddh Desi Romance’ and ‘Dhoom:3’.
Dhoom:3 was the first Bollywood movie to be released in the IMAX motion picture film format with Dolby Atmos surround sound. The film created history at both the Indian and Overseas box office - it is now officially the first Indian film to cross Rs. 500 crore worldwide, making it the biggest Motion Picture Event of all time!
Films released in 2014 include ‘Gunday’, ‘Aaha Kalyanam’, ‘Bewakoofiyaan, ‘Mardaani’, ‘Daawat-e-Ishq’ and ‘Kill Dil’.
The slate of films for 2015 include ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’, ‘Detective Byomkesh Bakshy’, ‘Titli’ and ‘Bank-Chor’.
The aggressive line-up for 2016 include ‘Fan’ (starring Shah Rukh Khan) & ‘Sultan’ (starring Salman Khan), with more announcements to be made soon.
Aditya Chopra personally oversees all creative and technical aspects of all the activities of the company and has created a formidable team of creative and technical talent, recognized probably as the best in India. This in-house pool of talent forms the core creative team, working on all its future films.
Aditya Chopra, as a producer and creative head of Yash Raj Films, has launched various successful directors in the course of the last few years – with each one a recognized directorial talent in his own right and each one making a series of films for Yash Raj Films. His endeavour to unearth more directorial talent continues. In his business avatar, Aditya Chopra is the Chairman - the driving force behind all the expansion plans and visions of the company.
Aditya Chopra, along with his father, Yash Chopra was voted as the most Powerful person in the Indian Entertainment business for two years in a row in a poll conducted by Filmfare in 2005 and 2006.
On the 12th of December 2014, Aditya Chopra’s directorial debut, ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’, completed 1000 weeks at Mumbai’s Maratha Mandir Cinema, becoming the longest running film in the history of Indian cinema. On this historic day, the lead pair of ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’, Shahrukh Khan and Kajol launched a book based on the film titled ‘Aditya Chopra relives Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge as told to Nasreen Munni Kabir’.
Under Aditya Chopra, Yash Raj Films is truly on its way to becoming India’s only truly complete movie studio, and one of the giants of global film making. While his films continue to weave magic, his story is rapidly becoming a case study on the second generation building on and outstripping the visions of the first!