Why Yash Chopra is a Bollywood icon

Yash Chopra (Photo by Getty Images)
Yash Chopra (Photo by Getty Images)



THIS Sunday (27) marks the day late great filmmaker Yash Chopra was born, and October 12 is his death anniversary.

The prolific producer/director will be remembered on both occasions by Bollywood fans, the film fraternity and all those he influenced in his own unique way across the decades.

Most will recall how incredibly amazing the influential filmmaker was, and to mark the occasion, Eastern Eye presents 20 of the most awesome things he did during his decades-long career.

Magnificent seven: From his first film Dhool Ka Phool in 1959 to his final offering Jab Tak Hain Jaan in 2012, the filmmaker delivered a hit Bollywood film in seven different decades and this achievement will likely never be matched.

Religious tolerance: Chopra’s successful directorial debut Dhool Ka Phool was way ahead of its time. The film’s message of religious harmony and humanity resonates more than 60 years later.

Fabulous formulas: With his 1965 blockbuster Waqt, the filmmaker reintroduced the lost-and-found formula back into Bollywood in a big way along with popularising multi-starrers. The film would influence countless blockbusters that followed, which included most 70s classics.

Song-less success: Hindi films almost exclusively being musicals didn’t stop the filmmaker from giving audiences the path-breaking suspense thriller Ittefaq (1969). It had no songs but surprised everyone by becoming a huge success.

Studio launch: In 1970, he launched Yash Raj Films, which would become the most successful banner in Bollywood history. In the past 50 years, the production house has delivered blockbuster hits, launched new talent, built a giant studio and expanded the horizons of Hindi cinema.

Bold subjects: His 1973 Daag: A Poem of Love became the first commercial Bollywood film to explore bigamy and had perhaps the most unexpected ending at the time, with the hero going off with both leading ladies. Chopra would make these kind of brave choices throughout his career, something which set him apart from other filmmakers.

Deewar: The 1975 classic is one of the greatest Bollywood films ever made and Amitabh Bachchan would later say that in many ways it was the best project of his career. The all-kinds-of-awesome film gave Bollywood’s greatest star his career-defining role and consolidated his position as the undisputed king.

Kabhi Kabhie: What makes this 1976 classic incredible is that Chopra delivered one of the all-time great romantic movies at a time when the action genre was dominating Bollywood. That takes some serious skill and self-belief.

Tackling taboos: Chopra had never shied away from subjects considered taboo. He did that brilliantly with his 1977 production Doosra Aadmi, which was way ahead of its time and revolved around an older woman falling for a younger man.

New talent: The filmmaker supported new talent throughout his career and that included launching Poonam Dhillon as a leading lady in his 1979 home production Noorie. The banner he founded would kickstart the career of many more stars including Anushka Sharma, Ranveer Singh, Saif Ali Khan, Arjun Kapoor, Parineeti Chopra and Vaani Kapoor.


Eye-popping triangle: It remains a mysteryhow Chopra managed to cast the real-life love triangle of Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan and Rekha in the lead roles in Silsila (1981), but it was an incredibly audacious feat.

Star-maker: The filmmaker helped turn many actors into movie mega-stars. This included Anil Kapoor with Mashaal (1984), which helped propel him to the very top; and Shah Rukh Khan with Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), which turned him into the king of Bollywood.

Swiss hit: With his 1989 romance Chandni, Chopra not only reintroduced romance back into Bollywood in a big way, but also popularised Switzerland as a shooting destination, which subsequently helped tourism skyrocket in the country. It also inspired other Bollywood filmmakers to shoot more films at exotic locations abroad.

Yash Chopra and Shah Rukh Khan

Perfect partnerships: Whether it was with musicians, lyricists and cinematographers or with stars, Chopra had some truly awesome partnerships throughout his career. The two greatest were arguably with superstars Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan. He gave them some of their most successful films, including Deewar, Kabhi Kabhie, Trishul, and Silsila (Bachchan); and Darr, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Dil To Pagal Hai and Veer-Zaara (Shah Rukh).

Original love story: There have been countless love triangles in Bollywood, but the most original ever was delivered by the visionary filmmaker with 1991 cult classic Lamhe, where a man is torn between a dead older woman he loved in his youth and her younger identical-looking daughter.

Making of a mogul: The most powerful Bollywood movie mogul of the modern era is Aditya Chopra and it is all thanks to his father. The legendary filmmaker launched his son as a writer/director with Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge and then helped shape him into the most successful Bollywood producer of all time, which would help Hindi cinema go global.

Madan magic: The visionary filmmaker always had an incredible ear for great music and incredible lyrics. But he took it a step further by taking unfinished compositions of late music director Madan Mohan, who had died decades earlier, and using them in the Veer-Zaara (2004) soundtrack to stunning effect.

Inspiring actors: Whether it was getting mega-star Rajesh Khanna to play a bigamist (Daag), making Amitabh Bachchan age in Kabhi Kabhie, getting Shah Rukh Khan to play a crazed stalker in Darr or break his no-kissing rule in Jab Tak Hain Jaan, Chopra regularly got big stars tostep out of the comfort zone.


Girl power: Most actresses wanted to become a Yash Chopra heroine because he always gave them something substantial to do. They were never just eye-candy in his films and had impactful roles, including being the main protagonists. Perfect examples include Silsila, Chandni, Lamhe, Darr, Dil To Pagal Hai and Veer-Zaara.

Body of work: Last but not least, the visionary filmmaker left an incrediblebody of work that has entertained audiences across different generations and will continue to do so for many years to come. That is why he is rightfully celebrated every year on his birth and death anniversaries. We at Eastern Eye also salute him.