Barring exceptions like Lamhe, his movies have been mushy to the extent of being silly
Perhaps the most successful filmmaker in Bollywood, Yash Chopra turned 80 on 27 September. He continues to be healthy, active and profitable. His next directorial venture Jab Tak Hai Jaan will release soon, and will, like all his movies, create waves. It still does not mean that he is a pathbreaking filmmaker.
Chopra, among other things, popularised the lost-and-found formula in Bollywood with Waqt in 1965. In the 1970s he made cult films like Deewaar and Trishul with Amitabh Bachchan. The angry young man was angriest in Chopra’s movies. And then, when well past his middle age, Chopra entered a romantic phase with Kabhi Kabhi, Chandni and Lamhe.
His production house, Yash Raj Films, is one of the biggest in Bollywood and must be unique in having the three Khans—Salman, Aamir and Shah Rukh—working with it at the same time. People say Shah Rukh’s super stardom was thanks to Yash Raj, but in fact it’s the reverse. Yash Chopra’s great acumen is in spotting superstars in the making and then rocketing them while selling truckloads of tickets.
He is a decent man, trusted by his crew and cast. When Amitabh was on the verge of bankruptcy in the late 1990s after the debacle of ABCL, it was to Yash Chopra’s house that he went asking for a role.
As a director, Chopra understood the Indian audience very well. Barring exceptions like Lamhe, his movies have been mushy to the degree of being silly. Yet, at its heart, every Yash Chopra movie is the same old melodrama. He rarely strays from his success formula. It may be the reason that he has managed to survive numerous other filmmakers like Subhash Ghai.