Bollywood Legends - Yash Johar


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Yash Johar


Tom Uncle is not with us anymore. He was a senior member of the Film Producers Guild of India. He commanded respect and love not only for his successful films, but also as a great human being. He had earned the reputation of being a ‘father figure’ for everyone in the film industry. His death is indeed a major setback to the Bollywood. On June 26 2004, 9:55 the veteran Indian film maker, Yash Johar- the man behind the Dharma Production banner breathed his last at Leelavati Hospital, leaving behind a legacy that will be hard to emulate. Johar was 75, when he died. He was fighting cancer and severe chest congestion. Johar had been put on life support system for past couple of days and had been under constant medical observation. His wife and a son- the famous film director Karan Johar survive him.
Johar started in the film industry as a photographer and over the years mastered every aspect of filmmaking. His son Karan Johar followed his father’s footsteps into the tinsel world, to become a successful director. Yash Johar made some of the most extravagant films of all times like ‘Dostana’ and ‘Duniya Meri Jeb Mein’. He started his career in the provincial 50’s as a ‘still photographer’, and made a constant and steady rise. He worked with Sunil Dutt’s Ajanta Arts as a production assistant and helped to make films like ‘Mujeh Jeene Do’ Subsequently, he joined Dev Anand’s banner Navketan. He played a valuable role in making of ‘Guide’, which did roaring business at the box office. He soon surged ahead with the production of films like ‘Jewel Thief’ and ‘Hare Rama Hare Krishna’. As the times rolled by he earned a big name - as one of the best production managers. Yash had the good fortune to work with greats like S.Mukherjee and others.
It was in 1976 that his very own Dharma Productions came into existence. His long lasting wish came true. His first film under this banner (with his old friend Raj Khosla) was Dostana starring the Big B and Shatrughan Sinha. It became a huge success bringing Yash Johar in limelight. Soon, his second film with Amitabh Bachchan, ‘Agnipath’, won critical acclaim bringing Bachchan his first National Award. Yash Johar continued to make his films on lavish scale. Johar casted Sridevi and Sanjay Dutt in Gumrah, which was directed by Mahesh Bhatt. Yash Johar’s films are known for their exotic locales and lavish sets, besides becoming icons of rich family and social values amongst the masses.
Later it was Shah Rukh Khan, who became the key ingredient of his movies. With him he churned out some of the biggest blockbusters like ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’, ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gum’ and ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’, which turned out to be big money-spinners. 1998 opened the golden door for the Johar dynasty as his son Karan made his debut as a director with ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’. His films touched every single Indian emotionally. From emotional bonding, family ties to extravagant sets, stunning wardrobes, foreign locations and melodious music; he gave all that the audiences look for in a movie. He targeted the emotions, the spirit of an Indian, whether it is in our country or settled abroad. Without doubt his films did a brisk business abroad too. Yash Johar literally made us taste a déjà vu of golden era of Raj Kapoor, when movies shot on foreign locales were a big hit in Europe and elsewhere.
Speaking about him, noted producer Mahesh Bhatt said: "I am just numb. He was very dear to my family. I have lost an elder brother. I don't think this empty space will be ever be filled. I don't know how I will overcome with this loss…I remember how he used to go and bring medicines when my mother had fallen sick and was hospitalized. He saw that she could survive longer and did all his best to help us. He also stood by our family when she passed away."
Music director Bappi Lahiri lamented, "I worked with him on Muqadar Ka Faisla. He used to put magic in his films. His biggest quality was that he was a very good human being, very down to earth. He was also a good social worker. He always used to contribute for the welfare of technicians in the film industry. He was a very simple natured man. I am very hurt and it is a big loss to the film industry.”
Producers were never considered to be friendly people in our film industry, but Yash proved it wrong with his kind gestures and gentle disposition. He won hearts of everyone who met him, even once. The place he left in everyone’s heart can never be filled again. The legacy of his films, which he left behind, will be remembered for years. People die and souls depart but names like Yash Johar are never forgotten. Ironically, Karan Johar’s last mega hit was titled “Kal Ho Na Ho” as if prophesizing the death of the grand old man.