October 21st, 2012. It was a sad day for everyone in the Indian film fraternity and for those who follow Hindi films around the world. That woeful Sunday evening saw the shocking and unforeseen demise of one of the country’s leading filmmakers, Yash Chopra.
From the chiffon saris in Silsila and Chandni to the yellow mustard fields in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ) to the snow-capped mountains in Darr, Yash Chopra managed to signify and present romance with equal doses of innocence and passion with everything he brought to celluloid. For those who followed his films, one glance was all it took to recognise it was his creation.
Chopra was also one of the first few producers who tackled the hills of Switzerland and the streets of London to shoot his films. He began this venture with the Rajesh Khanna-starrer, Daag, his first film under the Yash Raj banner. This practice of shooting subsequent films abroad was followed by Chandni, DDLJ and Dil Toh Pagal Hai, to name but a few. In short, the movie mogul pioneered romantic Indian cinema as we know it today: singing and dancing around trees or in sleeveless chiffon saris in the snowy Alps.
For over 50 years, Chopra made what he knew he was the best at making: poetic, idealistic films which audiences couldn’t help but love. He set a standard for future romantic films that was, more often than not, difficult to beat. The actors were different (most of the time), the locations were different (kabhi kabhi), the stories however, as similar as they may have been, were too beautiful to be taken lightly and not be entranced by. Be it the dialogues, the cinematography or the music, Yash Chopra had a deep involvement in each aspect of the filmmaking process, which resulted in him making a masterpiece out of every creation. Despite being predominantly associated with the romantic genre, Chopra also tried a hand with serious and drama-oriented scripts, most of which were equally applauded and praised. These films included: Deewar, Trishul and Chak De! India. With his concluding film, Jab Tak Hai Jaan releasing next week, his audience has one final Yash Chopra masterpiece to look forward to, after which we’re only left with his legacy of love.
To the man who gave girls much like myself unrealistic expectations of men, through characters enacted by Shah Rukh Khan with arms spread wide open, there will never be another filmmaker like you. Thank you for teaching the country how to make love stories. Here’s hoping Heaven’s a garden of yellow flowers. Rest in peace.