27 september, 1932
Labeled the eternal romantic and with one of the best musical senses in the business, Yash Chopra is arguably India's most successful director of romantic films. Although he made action-oriented films like the ever-popular Deewaar (1975), it is in tackling love and its various aspects that he has been at his best. One of the few remaining commercial Indian directors who started their careers in the 1950s, he has successfully moved with the times from the socially significant Dhool Ka Phool (1959) to the young and cool Dil To Pagal Hai (1997).
Yash Chopra was born in Lahore in 1932, to an accountant in the PWD division of the British Punjab administration, the youngest of eight children. He began as an assistant director to I.S. Johar before working with his elder brother, the legendary B.R. Chopra; while another brother, Dharam Chopra, worked as his cameraman. He was given his first directorial opportunity with Dhool Ka Phool (1959), a melodrama about illegitimacy; it became a hit and even now remains popular today. Encouraged by this success, the Chopra brothers made a few more movies together, the most notable being Waqt (1965), India's first multi-starrer; and Ittefaq (1969), a thriller. On the personal front, Chopra married Pamela Chopra (née Singh) in 1970, and they had two children, Aditya Chopra and Uday Chopra, both working in the film industry today.
In 1973, the Chopra brothers separated, with Yash Chopra founded his studio, Yash Raj Films, and launched it with Daag: A Poem of Love (1973), a successful melodrama about a polygamous man. He then entered one of his best phases with two Amitabh Bachchan classics: Deewaar (1975) and Kabhi Kabhie - Love Is Life (1976). These movies set the standard for the 1970s and 1980s, establishing Bachchan as the greatest and most beloved Indian film star of all time. His respective roles--a bitter criminal and a sensitive, brooding poet--are considered to be his greatest performances, although complete opposites of each other.
In the 1980s, Chopra went through a rough time. Two of his melodramas, Silsila (1981) and Faasle (1985); and two action-oriented films, Mashaal (1984) and Vijay (1988), flopped at the box office, although the latter became a critically acclaimed classic years later. However, he made a comeback with his musical love triangle Chandni (1989). The film was a huge success, with great performances by established heroine Sridevi and action hero Vinod Khanna. Then came what critics and Chopra himself considered his best film, Lamhe (1991), a beautiful film about cross-generational love. It couldn't survive the box office, however, due to its incestuous nature.
Parampara (1992), done for an outside producer, was a misfire, but then came the box-office hit and trend setter Darr (1993). Starring the then-débutant Shah Rukh Khan, it showed a sympathetic look at obsessive love and an emotion often overlooked in love--fear--and its success catapulted Khan to super-stardom. In 1995, Chopra turned to production and Aditya Chopra made his directorial debut with Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), which had the longest-running initial release in cinema history. He directed one more film, Dil To Pagal Hai (1997), a love story set against the theater, which became a huge success and a cult hit, before he retired from directing. However, in 2004, he made a grand comeback with Veer-Zaara (2004), a touching cross-border love story, which he said would be his last directorial effort.
The ages of the director and playback singer Lata Mangeshkar, his muse, proved you need to be young, as well as crazy, at heart, to be a true romantic....