Bollywood Legends - Yash Chopra
Yash Chopra 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 isregarded 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.
He has perhaps the best musical sense of all filmmakers in the Hindi Film Industrytoday.
Born in Jullunder, Punjab Yash Chopra began as an assistant director to I.S. Johar before moving on to assisting big brother B.R. Chopra. His directorial debut was the socially significant Dhool ka Phool, an epic melodrama about unwed motherhood, illegitimacy and a plea for communal harmony.
The film was a major success and took Mala Sinha to dramatic star status.
Multi-starrer Waqt (1965) based on the lost and found genre was his major commercial breakthrough and even went on to win for him his first Filmfare Award for Best Director.
He followed this up with a taut bold little thriller Ittefaq (1969). Ittefaq was an extremely bold film for its time. Not only was it songless, but the hero (Rajesh Khanna) and heroine (Nanda) were not even paired with one another.
The film is mainly shot in one house with taut editing that keeps up the suspense in the film. Breaking away from B.R. Films, Yash Chopra launched his own production banner Yashraj Films with Daag (1973). He then entered one of his best phases with Amitabh Bachchan - Deewaar (1975), Kabhi Kabhie (1976), a love story across two generations, and Trishul (1978) among others.
Deewaar is probably one of the most memorable Hindi films of all time. The film is a perfect amalgamation of two older classics - Ganga Jamuma (1961) that looks at the good brother v/s the bad brother and Mother India (1957) in which the mother undergoes all sorts of hardships to bring up her sons on her own.
The film contains all the stock-in-trade elements of the Indian melodrama - The good and bad brother, the long suffering mother as the central moral force, divine intervention and religious symbols but what sets it apart is the taut script (perhaps the best ever Salim - Javed Script), the powerful dialogues and above all a powerhouse performance by Amitabh Bachchan as the son driven to crime - perhaps his best ever!
The film is one of a series in which he plays the `angry young man`- the lone rebel, the man seeking personal vengeance and social justice, operating outside and more efficiently than the law- A far cry from the sensitive poet of Kabhie Kabhie.
Trishul had as its main ingredient a father - son conflict with an illegitimate son destroying his father for abandoning him and his mother. Once again the mother is the crucial emotional force of the film.
The 1980s saw Yash Chopra go through a rough patch as one after another - Silsila (1981) (trying to capitalize on the real life Amitabh-Jaya Bhaduri-Rekha triangle), Mashaal (1984), Faasle (1985), Vijay (1988) all flopped. However Chandni (1989), a love triangle with memorable music and a great central performance by Sridevi, brought him back in the reckoning.
Lamhe (1991) a beautiful and sensitive film of cross-generational love however did not go down with audiences who found it incestuous though there are many who regard it to be Yash Chopra`s best film.
Parampara (1993) done for an outside producer was a misfire, but Darr (1993), a sympathetic look at obsessive love and an emotion often overlooked in love - fear, was a trendsetter leading to several other films of the same type (Anjaam (1994), Daraar (1996) etc.)
His last film till date Dil to Paagal Hai (1997), a love triangle with the musical theatre as the backdrop is refreshingly young and hip as it plays off against the traditional beliefs of an ordinary girl (Madhuri Dixit) that she would find true love someday.
Though a huge success at the box office it was met with lukewarm critical response.
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.