Yash Chopra

Article Bio Works Merits Projects
crossroads:
betrayal, conflict, dream, Hinduism, imagination, lifestyle, longing, love, money, power, status
genre(subgenre):
Film (action film, bollywood, commercial film, documentary, melodrama, music film, romance)
region:
Asia, Southern and Central
country/territory:
India
created on:
July 18, 2003
last changed on:
Please note: This page has not been updated since September 23, 2003. We decided to keep it online because we think the information is still valuable.
information provided by:
Yash Chopra
Yash Chopra is one of India´s top film producers and directors. © Bollywood Awards/Snaps India.

Article

Godfather of Indian films

Yash Chopra is the godfather of Indian film-industry. He is the only director of the older brigade of filmmakers who has successfully moved with the times right from his first film Dhool ka Phool (1959) to his latest film Dil to Paagal Hai (1997). He is even today regarded as one of the hippest and trendiest directors of Indian cinema. Though Yash Chopra has done films of various sorts, it is when he is tackling love and its various elements that he has been at his best. His picturesque, poetic images often shot in Switzerland with melodious music (He has perhaps the best musical sense of all filmmakers in the Hindi Film Industry today) are charged with rich feeling, and in spite of all the gloss on screen, his films are more about life than lifestyle.
With 40 years in the film making industry, Yash Chopra has carved a distinct identity for himself and the films he directs. The central theme of his movies being love, it attracts a universal audience. Therefore it comes as no surprise that Yash Chopra has created a strong foothold in an industry for as long as four decades.

Starting his career with his brother B.R. Chopra of the TV serial ´Mahabharat´ fame, Yash Chopra soon started off under his own banner ´Yash Raj Films´ in 1970.

Since then we have been witness to the numerous films artistically crafted and implemented by the legend in movie making. A hint of this directorial superiority can be gauged by the huge fan following as well as the recognition received from those in the movie industry in the form of awards.

Yash Chopra is arguably India´s most successful director of commercial films. His position in the Hindi film industry is unique. Yash Chopra has been at the top of his profession for forty years. No other director of his generation has manifested such creative and box-office staying-power; indeed the careers of most directors of popular Hindi films rarely last more than a decade. He is also one of the richest and most powerful producers in Mumbai, now financing his films from his own pocket and arranging some of his own distribution both in India and overseas.

His position was enhanced recently by his production, directed by his elder son, Aditya Chopra, of one of the greatest commercial successes in Indian film history, Dilwale dulhania le jayenge (´The brave heart will take the bride´, 1995).

In 1959 Yash Chopra directed his first film Dhool Ka Phool (´Blossom of dust, love child´), a story of a woman betrayed by her lover and the subsequent fate of their illegitimate child.

In the early 1980s Yash Chopra made more action-oriented films, which although they won critical acclaim, fared only respectably at the box-office: Mashaal (´The torch´, 1984) and Vijay (1988).

His highly successful period began in 1989 with Chandni, a huge box-office success, a film with all the hallmarks of what has come to be known as the Yash Chopra style: heroine-oriented, romantic, emotional, depicting the lifestyle of the super elite, with superhit music used in songs pictured in foreign locations.

It is known also for its outstanding technical values, notably the camerawork of Manmohan Singh. It also showed a return to working with an established heroine, Sri Devi, rather than trying to introduce newcomers.

Yash Chopra´s own favourite film, Lamhe (´Moments´, 1991), divided the audience on a class basis: it was hugely popular with metropolitan elites and the overseas market, which allowed it to break even, but it had a poor box-office response (largely lower class, especially the repeat audience) because of its supposed incest theme.

Yash Chopra´s latest film, Dil To Pagal Hai (1997) a triangular love story, develops a new visual style in Hindi cinema. It is the first film to feature jazz dancers (Shiamak Davar´s troupe), has a new-look mise-en-scène created by Sharmista Roy and Manish Malhotra and its music by Uttam Singh, a music director new to Bollywood, broke all music sales.

This overview of Yash Chopra´s career surprises most people. Mostly because it is hard to think that this whole corpus of films was made by one man. Yashji has been at the top of his profession for forty years, while most other directors in Bombay tend to have much shorter lifespans. Other directors may work in the industry for a time but they do not stay at the forefront of current trends. Apart from a brief dip during the 1980s, Yash Chopra has always been among the top five directors.

Today his son Aditya too has become a filmmaker and has kept the Yashraj Films Banner flying high first with Dilwaale Dulhania Le Jaayenge (1995), the Banner´s biggest success and perhaps the best mainstream Hindi Film of the last six years and now Mohabbatein.
Author: Karin Bergquist

Bio

1932: Yash Chopra was born in Lahore, to an accountant in the PWD of the British administration in Punjab. The youngest of eight children, the oldest of whom was almost 30 years his senior, he was largely brought up in the Lahore house of his second brother, BR Chopra, then a film journalist, but subsequently one of India´s great movie moghuls, known for his films on social topics, and later maker of the record-breaking TV serial, Mahabharata.

1945: Yash Chopra went to Jullunder to continue his education while BR stayed on in Lahore, migrating to Bombay just weeks before partition in August 1947. A large part of the Lahore-based Punjabi film industry also migrated and BR used his contacts among these people to set himself up as a leading director in Bombay and soon became an independent producer.

He made some of the great classics of Indian cinema, including Ek Hi Raasta, Naya Daur and Sadhana among others. He is known to a younger generation as the maker of the TV serialisation of the Mahabharata, whose place in the history of television is assured. Yash Chopra soon joined him and worked as his assistant, while another brother, Dharam Chopra, worked as his cameraman.

1971: Yash Chopra founded Yash Raj Films, setting himself up independently from BR.

From 1973 he produced many of his own films but also made films for Gulshan Rai´s ´Trimurti Films´. His first film for Rai, Joshila (´Passionate´, 1973), an action-oriented movie fared only averagely at the box office, but his first independently produced film Daag (´The stain´ or ´The stigma´, 1973), a melodrama about a man with two wives, was a great success. He then made a number of the classic Amitabh Bachchan movies, scripted by Salim-Javed, notably Deewaar (´The wall; I´ll die for mama´, 1975) and Trishul (´The trident´, 1978) were great hits and remain popular today.

Works

Dil To Pagal Hai (1997)

Film / TV,
1997
Yash Chopra´s latest film, Dil To Pagal Hai, a triangular love story, develops a new visual style in Hindi cinema. It is the first film to feature jazz dancers (Shiamak Davar´s troupe), has a new-look mise-en-scène created by Sharmista Roy and Manish Malhotra and its music by Uttam Singh, a music director new to Bollywood, broke all music sales.

The brave heart will take the bride

Film / TV,
1995

Lamha (Moments)

Film / TV,
1991
Yash Chopra´s own favourite film, Lamhe (´Moments´, 1991), divided the audience on a class basis: it was hugely popular with metropolitan elites and the overseas market, which allowed it to break even, but it had a poor box-office response (largely lower class, especially the repeat audience) because of its supposed incest theme.

Chandni

Film / TV,
1989
His highly successful period began in 1989 with ´Chandni´, a huge box-office success, a film with all the hallmarks of what has come to be known as the Yash Chopra style: heroine-oriented, romantic, emotional, depicting the lifestyle of the super elite, with superhit music used in songs pictured in foreign locations. It is known also for its outstanding technical values, notably the camerawork of Manmohan Singh. It also showed a return to working with an established heroine, Sri Devi, rather than trying to introduce newcomers.

Mahabharat

Film / TV,
1969
Starting his career with his brother B.R. Chopra of the TV serial ´Mahabharat´ fame, Yash Chopra soon started off under his own banner ´Yash Raj Films´ in 1970.

Merits

Today Yash Chopra has been honoured for his sensitive and poetic contribution to Indian Cinema with the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award.

Projects

This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.

Images of Asia

(08 August 03 - 26 September 03)