Yash Chopra defined love and romance on the silver screen.
Whenever the name of Yash Chopra enters memory or conversation, a gallery of images instantly flash … beautiful young women, traditionally chic, sensuous, draped in chiffon, frequently drenched in rain or shimmering moonlight, in full-blown romantic mode waltzing around exotic, exquisite locales with their lovers, a melodious song on their divine lips.
No one transformed heroines into devastating divas, objects of such high pitched desire, rapturously luxuriating in the breathless feeling that defined love, with such class and taste as this Majnu. No one defined escapist, feel-good, glamorous odysseys to the never-never-land-of-happy-ever-after with more élan and panache as this master king of romance. It was truly full-on, 7-star, designer pyaar-mohabbat with passion, style, mauj-masti, emotion, tension, conflict — the works! With his exit, screen love has lost its most devoted and passionate brand ambassador.
Yashjee may have started out in his brother B.R. Chopra shadow with Dhool Ka Phool and Dharamputra — hitting the socially relevant and meaningful button — but he found his real voice, vision and style with (the mid-sixties) Waqt. India’s first legit multi-starrer, this glamorous star-studded project riding on the lost and found theme, panning across exotic locales and choc-a-bloc with emotions, thrills, conflicts, turmoils and courtroom drama, cleverly blending old world values with modern footprints established Chopra firmly as a maverick story-teller of true-blue class. Over time, he has frequently been labeled as the person who gave Amitabh Bachchan the Angry Young Man image, but to close Chopra-watchers, it is totally inaccurate. It was the brilliant duo of Salim-Javed who invented this creature, unleashed him first in Zanjeer and then blazed new trails with Deewar, Trishul and Kala Patthar. Sure Yashjee directed them under his own banner, but the story, screenplay and dialogues — mind-blowingly memorable and ever-quotable even today after 35 years — belong totally to the Salim-Javed brand of genius.
Being an excellent director, his story-telling, production values, casting, detailing and craft continued to be flawless in every one of his many diverse directorial ventures, but his real soul celebrated itself best in cinematic odes to love, emotion and passion.
Right from his first project for his own banner, Yash Raj Films (YRF), Daag, through to Kabhie Kabhie, Silsila, Chandni, Lamhe, to overseeing Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Dil to Pagal Hai, Veer Zaara and his swansong Jab Tak Hai Jaan, Yash Chopra demonstrated his unashamed, unabashed preference, flair and genius for offering us a version of screen romance — the love triangle — that neither age can chill nor rival steal. He projected everything that a common man fantasized about love … in sensuous, glamorous, romantic, thrilling, emotional, larger-than-life 70mm, cinemascope. Every secret desire and dream, impossible to realize was laid bare to savor and thrill. To him, love was an all-pervasive passion, junoon, emotion, feeling and sentiment that engaged and enriched even as it empowered the very breath of life.
Javed Akhtar, in his tribute, said, “The hallmark of Yashjee’s life and work was his innate sense of good taste. Never was there the slightest whiff of vulgarity, obscenity or indecency in any of his films, be it subject, dialogue or lyrics. An ardent devotee of Urdu poetry, Yashjee epitomized refinement as very few did.” It is so appropriate that this high-priest of screen love moved from sight to memory floating on his last directorial venture, titled Jab Tak Hai Jaan.
Al vida, Yash-jee. Love never dies.