Take the producing acumen of a Louis B Mayer or a David O. Selznick and combine it with the sublime directorial skills of a Frank Capra or a Michael Curtiz and you get some measure of Yash Chopra
, the Maestro
of Blockbuster dreams for more than five decades.
Yash Chopra passed away on 21st October, 2012 leaving behind a legacy that will inspire generations to come. Yashji’s last film, after the critical and commercial success of ‘Veer-Zaara’ in 2004, was Jab Tak Hai Jaan’ starring Shahrukh Khan, Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma. The film released on 13 November 2012 to an overwhelming response worldwide and was one of the top grossers of the year.
Yash Chopra spoke about his Bollywood journey in a special interview that was hosted by Shahrukh Khan on his 80th birthday on September 27, 2012 at YRF Studios. It was during this interview that he announced that ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’ will be his last film as a director. Click here to see the interview
Born on 27th September 1932, Yash Chopra's journey from the lush green fields of Punjab – which kept reappearing in his movies in all their splendour – to the very highest echelons of the Hindi film industry was as magical as any of his 50 plus movies.
Yash Chopra started out as an assistant to his brother, B.R.Chopra, and went on to direct 5 very successful films for his brother’s banner - B.R.Films - each of which proved to be a significant milestone in his development as a world class director of blockbusters. These were ‘Dhool Ka Phool’ (Blossom of dust – 1959), ‘Dharmputra’ (Adopted Son – 1961), ‘Waqt’ (Time – 1965) – India’s first true multi-starrer generational family drama, ‘Ittefaq’ (Coincidence – 1969) & ‘Aadmi Aur Insaan’ (Man and Human – 1969). He has wielded the baton, additionally, for 4 films made by other film companies - ‘Joshila’ (Passionate – 1973), ‘Deewaar’ (The Wall – 1975), ‘Trishul’ (The Trident –1978) & ‘Parampara’ (Tradition – 1993). But his greatest repertoire of work were the 50 plus films made under the banner that he launched - the banner that stands for the best of Hindi cinema – YASH RAJ FILMS, which now operates as a leading Film Studio of India.
Out of these films, he directed 13 himself and these films have defined much of the language of Hindi movies as we know them today – especially the romantic picture. 'Daag' (The Stigma - 1973), 'Kabhi Kabhie' (As Time Goes By - 1976), 'Kaala Patthar' (Coal Mine – 1979), 'Silsila' (The Affair - 1981), 'Chandni' (Chandni - 1989), 'Darr' (Fear - 1993), 'Dil To Pagal Hai' (The Heart Is Crazy - 1997) and 'Veer-Zaara' (Veer and Zaara - 2004) are some of the highly successful movies which Yash Chopra directed. A Yash Chopra directed movie was anchored in its strong screenplay – but embellished always with gorgeous locations, snow-capped mountains, lakes and rivers, beautiful women draped in gorgeous chiffon amidst fields of flowers – women who invariably went on to become icons after appearing in his movies. No wonder then that actresses thought their careers have truly taken off only when they acted in a Yash Chopra movie. But a Yash Chopra movie did not just engage the eyes and the heart – it seduced the ears as well. His sense of film music was impeccable – and each of his movies had musical scores and signature tunes that still keep India humming years and years after its original release. And more than anything else, a YASH CHOPRA film was straight from the heart... it dwells on human emotions!
To many South Asians, a Yash Chopra movie was their passport to a world outside the one they inhabit. He was one of the first directors to take his camera to countries such as Switzerland, Holland, Germany and the United Kingdom. This often led to a direct increase in visitors to those countries, and governments were not shy in taking note. The Swiss Government honoured him for helping rediscover Switzerland and he was presented a special Award by screen goddess, Ursula Andress, on behalf of the Swiss Government. In fact, a lake in Switzerland has been unofficially named ‘The Chopra Lake’ because of the way he had used it in his films. He also received a Certificate of Recognition from the British Tourist Authority & British Film Commission for promoting tourism in the UK through his films. He was formally bestowed with France’s highest civilian award, the “Officier de la Legion d’ Honneur” (Officer of the Legion of Honour) in 2008.
If his achievements as director were staggering, his work as a producer was no less. He had never been shy of adventuring into bold and controversial themes – which were not just simple “message films.” Instead he pulled off the more difficult task of weaving in socially relevant messages within the parameters of commercial cinema. The social comment meshed in with the smiles and tears and managed to successfully bridge the gap between the older and the younger generations worldwide. His directorial efforts surpassed the work of directors less than half his age.
Yash Raj Films has also become a hotbed of grooming new talent, the most significant of whom is Yash Chopra’s own son the director, Aditya Chopra. ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ (The Braveheart will take the Bride – 1995), a landmark film from YRF, produced by Yash Chopra and directed by his equally talented son, Aditya Chopra, has been the longest running movie in Indian cinema history, still running theatrically - over 17 years and more than 900 weeks after it was originally released. ‘Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi’ (A Match Made in Heaven - 2008), the blockbuster directed by Aditya Chopra, was one of the highest grossing film of all-time for Yash Raj Films.
Yash Chopra unearthed new composers, new singers, and acting talent, almost all of whom have gone on to great heights in the industry. To be a part of a YRF film is the culmination of the fondest dreams for any talent in India – creative or technical.
Yash Chopra was more than a director and producer alone. In fact, the corporatization of “Bollywood” had its very genesis in the pioneering efforts of Yash Chopra. With his vast years of experience in the entertainment business, Yash Chopra was indisputably the leader of the Media and Entertainment firmament in India and the voice that governments and organizations listened to on matters pertaining to the rapidly booming Hindi film industry.
Even after eigh decades, Yash Chopra’s vitality and creativity remained undiminished, and a new YRF film continues to remain the most anticipated event in the film calendar of Indian cinema.
For Indians of every age, Hindi cinema will continue to mean Yash Chopra and Yash Chopra will continue to mean Hindi cinema for a long time to come.
Film lovers and audiences, the world over continue to adore and cherish Yash Chopra's films and memories.
YASH CHOPRA was the Chairman of India's premier entertainment conglomerate YASH RAJ FILMS and the YRF STUDIOS from its inception until the year 2012.
YASH RAJ FILMS (YRF) is India’s premier film production company, with its own distribution offices all over the world, including the USA, UK and the Middle East which market and distribute the 4 to 6 films that YRF produces every year.
YRF has produced some of the highest grossing films of all times, including the longest running film in Indian cinema history.
YRF also has its own Music label, YRF Music, as well as takes its films through DVDs all over the world on its label - YRF Home Entertainment. Always at the forefront, YRF has recently released its films on Blu-ray as well, and closely works with digital partners to take its enviable catalogue to a wider audience.
YRF Television has had a successful launch in India in 2010 with 5 new cutting edge shows in the first season, and 2 new shows in its second season... indeed YRF covers the entire spectrum of entertainment through its own operations.
YRF launched a youth films studio, Y-Films in 2011, giving the youth a creative outlet and voice that will entertain and unite on film and beyond. With a vision of being a platform for new talent, Y-Films will be a launch pad for new directors and stars.
In November 2011, Uday Chopra announced the formation of YRF Entertainment, a Hollywood-based production and financing company focused on developing and producing feature films for the U.S. and international marketplace. The company is launched and funded by Yash Raj Films.
Yash Raj Films has its own state-of-the-art, fully integrated Studio and Corporate Office at one of Mumbai’s prime properties where the heart of the entertainment business beats. A one-of-its-kind, the YRF STUDIOS houses three Sound Stages and is the only complete soundproof and air-conditioned Studio in India. The Audio Wing houses the most advanced audio and video recording and post-production facilities.
In recognition of the stature of the two entities, important dignitaries have visited the YRF STUDIOS in recent years. These have included heads of all major Hollywood studios, as well as world leaders.
Most recent visitors have included Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Gordon Brown, the erstwhile Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, as well as the Duke of York, Prince Andrew.
In 2004, Hollywood Reporter carried a survey on the “Biggest Film Distribution Houses” in the world in which Yash Raj Films was listed as the Number 1 Film Distribution House in India and 27th in the world.
His company, Yash Raj Films, was awarded the Golden Peacock National Quality Award for outstanding achievement in pursuit of Total Quality Management in the Entertainment Sector for the year 2002.
Yash Raj Films was adjudged the Best Production Company and Best Marketing Company in Entertainment at the 2nd Apsara Film & Television Producers Guild Awards 2005.
YRF entered into an agreement with The Walt Disney Studios, world-renowned leaders in family entertainment, to exclusively create a series of animation films in the Indian language. The collaboration marks the first time for both companies to enter a co-production to produce films in India. The first film to be co-produced in this alliance was ‘Roadside Romeo’ (released in October 2008).
YASH RAJ FILMS and the YRF STUDIOS are the nerve centre of the Indian film industry and are going from strength to strength.