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HOW "VEER-ZAARA" WON THE WEST
– YASH CHOPRA AT THE 55TH BERLINALE FILM FESTIVAL
Berlin was the place to be when the all the Stars came down to Earth. When India’s star director Yash Chopra arrived at the 55th Berlinale Film Festival, with his love legend Veer-Zaara being screened in the Forum at the Festival, the Germans knew Love was in the air.
Everyone from the Festival Director, Mr. Dieter Kosslick, The Honourable Indian Ambassador, Mr. Rangacharya, to their local legendary film maker Alexander Kluge cleared their diaries to get a piece of “Mr. Love” as they referred to Mr. Chopra.
A screening for 400 people on 12th February had even the tough German men reaching for their handkerchiefs, as they all continued to clap throughout the end credits, after a 3 hour visual treat of colour, dance and fabulous performances riding on a wave of emotions that left them spell bound.
Spending over 1 hour signing autographs and posing with his fans for photographs Yash Chopra had conquered the German shores in one sweep.
The second screening on 13th February, took off with an auditorium of 600 going to full capacity with only German viewers and an even warmer reception, the Germans just couldn’t get enough of that “Lovin Feeling”.
Back to business, and Yash Raj Films signed up a major distribution deal with the local German Distributor Rapid Eye Movies, to release the Love Legend in May 2005.
A deal welcomed by the Festival Director, Dieter Kosslick, inviting Yash Chopra for Tea to express his delight. The 2 men exchanged views on Cinema, the Cultural exchange through movies and a promise to open doors in Germany for more Indian films through a full week to celebrate the vibrance of Indian Cinema in Germany, followed by a week of German Movies coming to Mumbai.
Alexander Kluge, perhaps one of Germany’s greatest filmmakers expressed his desire to interview the most Romantic Man in the world on his own birthday 14th February, since the 2 men were born in the same year - 1932.
An interview that became more than a meeting of 2 personalities, as the 2 men became so emotional during their chat that some people watching were moved to tears, as Mr. Chopra drew parallels about East and West Germany and how it became an emotional journey for him personally when he made Veer-Zaara about 2 Punjab’s – one half in Pakistan and the other in India.
Meeting various delegates and Festival Directors from all over the world, the 3 day trip was rounded off with a special reception hosted by the Indian Ambassador at the Indian High Commission on 14th February.
Having launched the DVD of Veer-Zaara on Valentines Day worldwide and presenting a personal copy to the Ambassador, it was the perfect close to an eventful tour, with a personal assurance from the Ambassador in helping open doors to facilitate shoots and exhibition in Germany as well as helping in combating piracy.