15th July 2006 and Yash Chopra added yet another feather in his own cap as well as the entire Indian Film Fraternity when he made everyone connected with the Indian Film world proud by becoming the first Indian ever to be honoured by BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) in the 59 year history of the Academy.
16th April 1947, the great film director David Lean was appointed first Chairman with the fundamental aim to “recognise those who had contributed outstanding creative work towards the advancement of British film.”
Current Chairman of BAFTA's film committee Duncan Kenworthy said, “it was perhaps a bit strange that the British Film Industry that makes so few films a year, is recognising an Industry that makes close to 1000 films a year, but it was a great start – BAFTA decided to honour Yash Chopra as there is non more befitting to represent the Indian Industry.”
Celebrating Indian Cinema, BAFTA dedicated a 3 day weekend to showcase Indian Cinema with Yash Chopra’s VEER-ZAARA getting top billing. Taking centre stage at the opening day press conference on 14th July, accompanied by Shah Rukh Khan and Karan Johar – Yash Chopra added “opening these doors is a step in the right direction in getting the recognition truly deserved by Indian Cinema and it should not be long before our films are being nominated and hopefully picking up the prestigious award – on our part we must ensure we make better films”.
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) supports, develops and promotes the art forms of the moving image, by identifying and rewarding excellence, inspiring practitioners and benefiting the viewing public. With an expert industry membership of nearly 6500 individuals, globally, it focuses attention on the highest achievements of films, video games and television programmes shown in the UK each year in order to motivate and inspire those who make them, and to educate and develop the taste of those who watch them.
Aamir Khan said, “the primary job of a director is to communicate with his audience, and over the last 50 years, no one has done this better than Yash Chopra”.
Karan Johar said in a very heartfelt and emotional speech – “The reason I became a film maker is Yash Chopra”
Gurinder Chadha – “It makes us all in the British Film Industry proud to see Yashji take centre stage at BAFTA”
Duncan Kenworthy – “for anyone to stay at the top of his profession in any field for 50 years is a remarkable feat”
Rachel Dwyer – “I cannot think of a single Hollywood equivalent who made Black & White films in the 50’s and is still active making films and paving the path for young film makers to follow...”
Receiving a lifetime membership to BAFTA at the hands of the Chairman, Yash Chopra humbly accepted adding that it’s an honour not only for him personally but the entire Indian Industry.