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Posts Tagged ‘Yash Chopra’

When we think of gorgeous heroines draped in plain color chiffon saris and sleeveless blouses – swaying to rhythmic beats composed poster jab tak hai jaanby eminent musicians and lip-synching soulful lyrics penned by proficient poets – with the magnificent Alps as a backdrop, the only name that comes to our minds is that of Yash Chopra!

The producer and director showed us the value of pure romance sans vulgarity in times when the only mantra to box office success appears to be “the lewder and cruder, the better”. He passed away last year. He has left behind a rich legacy of social comment through the wide-ranging themes of movies he produced or directed.

But the king of romance acquired this sobriquet by a very interesting process of evolution, through a long and arduous journey of making socially relevant movies which reflected our society’s challenges of their respective times. Like other popular directors of Bollywood – Raj Kapoor, Subhash Ghai and others – he had a unique ear for music, which was a hallmark of all his movies. The lyricists he associated with were accomplished poets who invariably came up with relevant and meaningful verses.

Evolving Into a King of Romance220px-Dhool_Ka_Phool

Partition, Secularism and Peace

If ‘Dhool ka Phool” (1959) was about illegitimate children, ‘Dharamputra’ (1961) touched upon religious intolerance in days when the term Hindu fundamentalism was not part of our vocabulary. The story of a Muslim bringing up a Hindu boy tugged at one’s heart-strings. The scenes of partition were hard-hitting, leading to a backlash at the time. That was perhaps the reason he never ventured to make a film on a political theme again during his lifetime.

However, he did come up with a clear message on peace and unity with his ‘Veer Zaara’ (2004). Not even a single bullet was fired in the film, but the message was loud and clear – that India and Pakistan share a common culture and a strong bond – by implication, both countries deserve a poster veer zaarachance to be together again, pooling their scarce resources to alleviate poverty, hunger and disease, instead of war mongering.

Family Values, Wealth and Bigamy

‘Waqt’ (1965) was his last movie where he worked with his elder brother Baldev Raj Chopra. It was the first one to have had a multi-star cast, a practice which is followed till today. It also spawned several other movies in the lost-and-found genre, popular ones being ‘Yaadon ki Baraat’ and ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’. The movie also depicted the lavish styles of the rich, conveying that 220px-Deewar_posteracquiring wealth is not necessarily evil.

Then he formed Yash Raj Films, his own banner, and came out with ‘Daag’ (1973). The issue of bigamy was handled with his trademark elegance and suavity.

The Angst of the Youth

This was followed by two angry-young-man-phase movies, capitalizing on Amitabh Bachchan’s recently acquired image in ‘Zanjeer’. It started off with ‘Deewar’ (1975) and was followed by ‘Trishul’ (1978). In ‘Mashaal’ (1984), he cast thespian Dilip Kumar who portrayed an angry old man. Much to the glee of middle class audience struggling with rising aspirations kabhie kabhie posterand astronomical living costs, the means were no longer important; ends were.

Elegant Romance

With ‘Kabhie Kabhie’ (1976), he introduced a poetic touch into the art of commercial movie making and set the box office registers tingling. This trend continued in his subsequent movies like ‘Silsila’ (1981), ‘Chandni’ 220px-Silsila(1989) and ‘Lamhe’ (1991). The angst eventually mellowed down and human emotions acquired center stage. All the characters in these movies were from an affluent background. In each venture, the canvas only got larger. In each, candy-floss romance was in the air, backed by melodious music and soulful lyrics that would remain etched in our collective psyche for a long time to come.

His style of depicting romance was muted, elegant and refined. The main protagonists were invariably civil and dignified, following the norms of propriety. It was devoid of lewd dialogues, coarse lyrics and vulgar scenes. Even in ‘Darr’ (1993), we had an anti-hero stalking the heroine, but never in bad taste.

Social Values and the Indian Diaspora Lamhe poster

He produced ‘Dilwaale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ (1995), which was directed by his son, Aditya Chopra. The movie set new records and Indians world over could readily connect with the superiority of family values it espoused. A daughter brought up in UK needs permission from her overbearing father for a vacation in Europe; a hero refuses to get persuaded by the heroine’s mother to elope with the heroine; instead, the couple works towards getting an approval of the match from the heroine’s father, come what may – these were market savvy master strokes in the script which made the movie immensely popular with all age groups.

Musical Romanceposter of chandni

Very few directors have ventured to work on a theme with music as a backdrop. ‘Dil To Pagal Hai’ (1997) did precisely that. All the main characters had a different perspective on love, and the movie was about the transformation of their belief systems. It was beautifully built around music and dance, elevated to a level where soul-mates discover each other.

We live in terrorism infested times. It is not surprising that his last venture, ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’ (2012) used this as a backdrop of a triangular love story.

An Ear for Music and Rich PoetryDDLJ poster

While supporting his brother, B. R. Chopra, Yash Chopra got to work with music directors like N. Dutta and Ravi. However, once on his own, he first worked with Lakshmikant Pyarelal for ‘Daag’, and then with Rahul Dev Burman for ‘Deewar’. Khayyam was his choice for ‘Kabhie Kabhie’ and ‘Trishul’. All through these movies, he worked with Sahir Ludhianvi as the lyricist.

Yet another master stroke was his persuading legendary classical musicians Shiv Kumar Sharma and Hari Prasad Chaurasia to compose the music for several of his movies. Together, they created a rich legacy of music in such movies as ‘Silsila’, ‘Chandni’, ‘Lamhe’ and ‘Darr’. The classical dance sequences performed with aplomb by  Sridevi in ‘Chandni’ and ‘Lamhe’ remain as fresh today as they were when captured on celluloid. ‘Silsila’ and ‘Veer Zaara’ had lyrics by Javed Akhtar, whereas all others had poetic inputs from Anand Bakshi.DTPH poster

For ‘Dil To Pagal Hai’, he turned to Uttam Singh, who came up with mellifluous compositions for the movie. His best was, however, reserved for ‘Veer Zaara’, which dug up old compositions of the legendary Madan Mohan, revived by the latter’s son Sanjeev Kohli.

In his last offering, ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’, he teamed up with A. R. Rehman, with lyrics by Gulzar.

Setting New Benchmarks

Undoubtedly, he set new benchmarks for the film industry. Several trends that we take for granted today were initiated by him. He set the template for future Bollywood directors who continue to ape his technical gloss but lack the depth of romance and human emotions captured by him. He was among the first to push the industry into professionalism. Working with classical musicians and accomplished Urdu poets, he has left behind a rich repertoire of music for all of us to savor for a long time to come.

He would always be fondly remembered for a certain elegance and refinement of language which many of the current breed of Bollywood dream merchants sadly lack. Also, for the unique brand of secularism, peace and unity he propagated through his movies.

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Discovering and Cultivating a Hobby

In the restricted circle of friends and relatives that our family is exposed to, it is common knowledge that since the past four years we have been assiduously chronicling the events and occurrences in the family. These chronicles have taken the shape of movies which are more in the nature of a collage of videos and still photos, backed by appropriate musical scores from diverse sources.

The intention of making these movies is surely not to advertise the family or its mundane achievements in life. The basic idea is to share the major events in the family with the extended family members who are spread across diverse geographical locations, as also to preserve the family history for posterity. If the history buffs in our future generations preserve these, our family background would always be just a click away.

Enabling Factors

What have been the enabling factors for the development of these movies? Let me attempt to list a few. One, a healthy dose of movies celebrating the middle class values like caring, sharing, mutual trust and a respect for one´s elders. Two, happy moments and events which leave one´s emotional core stirred and shaken. Three, a fondness for good music, backed by soulful lyrics. Four, a hobby of preserving the family archives, whether in the form of old photos, diaries left behind by our forefathers, and the like. Five, creative juices sloshing about inside one in gay abundance at times, not allowing one to rest till the time a meaningful external expression is found.

Challenges

What could be challenging about arranging some dumb photos in a sequence and backing them up with a few songs, you may well ask. Well, to present something new and unique to my audience every time is one. Also, one has to keep one´s self-promotional tendencies in check – so, no hapless visitor to our house shall ever be strapped to a couch and forced to watch one of these movies! Moreover, narcissism is not considered a virtue; so, each movie´s theme encompasses snippets of even those unsuspecting friends and relatives who are not necessarily a part of the main narrative.

The Journey So Far

Shruti-Vinod

The year 2007 saw our daughter getting married. Gradually, an idea took shape – to make a movie which would not only cover the various ceremonies that took place in connection with the marriage, but would also capture the childhood days and upbringing of both the bride and the bridegroom. Once old photos had been collected, search began for a studio which could transform the concept into reality. However, tradition-bound studios were not too keen to experiment with their own formats. With the help of a friend, we could identify a suitable software. Work started at home with a humble second-hand laptop.

Backed by quotations from Shri Aurobindo´s Savitri, the dvd took about eight months to get composed. Goodwill messages from all those who could not attend the event also got covered. Titled `Shruti Vinod`, the movie was 125 minutes long. Reactions from viewers were encouraging, to say the least.

Hamari Bahu Garima

Come 2008, and our son got married. Our daughter-in-law, Garima, joined the family. Motivated by the first experiment, the canvas of the second movie got wider. Appropriate cartoon sequences were added up, juxtaposed with audio clips of the bride and the groom. Few other special effects also brightened up the proceedings. The end result of this labor of love was a 250 minutes long movie. For the benefit of those in a hurry, a smaller version of 130 minutes was also prepared. This one was titled `Hamari Bahu Garima`.

Dhoom Macha Le

In 2009, our daughter had a toddler of her own. Aptly named Suman, the blossoming of this flower in the family garden at Asker in Norway was greeted with unbridled enthusiasm. A dvd running into about 35 minutes came up first. During 2010, a dvd named `Dhoom Macha Le` was completed and released. An interesting feature of this 100 minute long movie was a special chapter on Suman´s future career aspirations, with examples drawn from a long list of celebrity female achievers.

Both were followed up with another dvd which captured the second year of her life.

X´mas 2009 and God Bharai

This covered the get together of all the children and their families. Both the couples danced to their heart´s content, with Suman witnessing the God Bharai function of Garima.

Shalini´s Griha Pravesh

Lovingly done, this one hour-long dvd captured the birth of Shalini, our son´s daughter, in March 2010. It ended up showing the new-born entering her house in Basel, Switzerland, for the first time.

1962 : A Love Story

As I write this in July 2012, two more movies have got added to the family portfolio. In February, we could add `1962: A Love Story’. It is about 55 minutes long and covers the life and times of my eldest co-brother who completed 50 years of married life on the 8th of March this year. In this work, it was challenging to capture the trauma of partition of India in 1947, faced by the families then.

Shalini – The Beautiful

June 2012 brought about the completion of yet another movie, `Shalini – the beautiful`. Based on the first two years of our son´s daughter, this runs into 108 minutes. A special feature here is the coverage of diverse aspects of Shalini´s personality, as we have seen it evolving over time so far. The thematic peg used for this purpose is the `NAVARAS` concept espoused centuries back by Bharat Muni in his famous treatise on the fine arts, `Natya Shastra`.

An Enriching Experience!

Overall, cultivating this hobby has been a very fulfilling and enriching experience. The effort is highly labor intensive, what with a scheme to be followed for all inputs to be neatly arranged. Exhausting and challenging, yet exhilarating and liberating in more ways than one. Possibly, this is what Maslow meant when he spoke of self-actualization.

Courtesy Bollywood and Hollywood

All the family members have contributed immensely to all these ventures. However, the lion´s share of the credit goes to the creative minds from Bollywood as well as Hollywood. One has drawn liberally from the works of such creative geniuses as Gulzar, Basu Chatterji, Hrishikesh Mukherji, Yash Chopra, David Lean and the like. Movies from the Rajshri stable find a place of pride in our scheme of things. And, of course, renowned music directors whose immortal works have regaled all of us all these years have unknowingly enriched our family archives beyond compare.

One is grateful for all the grace one has received in different aspects of one´s life, including for the baby steps taken so far in capturing family events through the medium of movie making.

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