Happy Birthday Adi! I Will Let Your Work Speak For You

It’s Aditya Chopra’s birthday today, but I don’t want to make a big fuss, because it seems like he isn’t the kind of guy who likes a big fuss.  With that in mind, I will celebrate by letting his work speak for itself. And I will do 28 reasons, one for every year since he started working in film.  The reverse of last year, when I did 18 reasons, one for each year he was in age. (This is an updated and reposted post from last year)

28 reasons I love you!

1. While your mother Pam Aunty insisted you at least finish college, you spent every break and free moment on film sets, until your father finally let you work as an official Assistant Director on Lamhe, supposedly letting you create the trailer all by yourself, at age 18. And it’s brilliant, right?  The first of many brilliant Aditya Chopra trailers.

2. After college, you were allowed to join the crew for the whole of Darr!  You were the assistant director, the editor, the cameraman, and the guy in charge of keeping Shahrukh Khan company while he stayed up all night.  And at the end of it, you had a stone-cold classic trailer, and a lifelong friendship.

3. Darr was your proving ground, your father let you come up with the idea and promised to produce your next film.  Your first concept was a big multi-hero saga, but it was too large an idea for a first film.  So instead, you sat down and came up with a small love story.  It would show the east meeting the west, a traditional Indian girl falling for a western boy.  The first thought was to make it a true co-production, cast someone like Tom Cruise as the male lead.  But that wasn’t possible, so you made it into an even more complex statement about what makes an Indian boy “Indian”.

4. Because it was a first film, the older cast was a little nervous about working with you.  Shahrukh and Kajol were your friends and trusted you, Anupum Kehr was one of your father’s best friends, had known you most of your life.  But Amrish Puri didn’t trust your instincts.  Until he challenged you on the first day of filming to explain your directions, and you revealed your precise exact planning for every second of screentime.  From then on, he trusted you completely.

4. It may have been your vision, but you took a moment to honor your father with a sampling from one of his early films in the middle of yours.  And you didn’t just use the song, you perfectly evoked the mood, an older couple who still loved each other.

5. And then here is your version.

6. After DDLJ came out and proved to be the biggest hit anyone had ever seen, your father rewarded you by making you producer on his next film.  And trusting your instincts and letting you help with the dialogue and script as well.

7. You took the profits from your father’s film, and your film, and folded them into your next production.  That big multi-starrer you’d been planning, that you finally had the money to do right.  And that would be an absolutely guaranteed hit, one that justified opening your own distribution wing, and DVD production house.

8.  Now that you had your own studio, your own distribution company, your own DVD company, your own post-production studios, before age 30, you moved onto the next step of your plan, releasing multiple films written and directed by others, but under your supervision which gave them that distinctive “Yash Raj” house style.  Stars, settings, songs, saris.

9. Like your father before you, you were also something of a star-maker.  Not just Shahrukh Khan, but Abhishek Bachchan,

10. And Vivek Oboroi,

11. And even Ranbir Kapoor, all had the biggest hits of their careers when they handed their persona over to you.

11.  Of course, it wasn’t all easy.  After 5 years of hit pe hit, you hit a bit of a dry spell.  Honestly, I don’t know why the formula stopped working, I still liked all those flops from 2007.  Well, except for Ta Ra Rum Pum.  But Jhoom Barabar Jhoom is great fun.

12. Laaga Chunari Mein Daag has great songs.

13. Aaja Nachle may have failed, but it has an amazing extended mini-movie inside of it that I’ve never seen the like of before.

14.  Really, even Ta Ra Rum Pum had some great songs!  Which is smart, you probably broke even on the soundtrack sales alone.

15.  There was one hit in 2007, Chak De India, the only one which broke the Yash Raj formula.  Which also revealed that it was just a formula that seemed to work for a while, not the only kind of thing you are able to produce.  This is a very different film, with one star, no dances, and no romance, and it hit a chord.


16.  Okay, it had a few songs.  No real song sequences though, so the title song had to be released as a separate music video.

17. The flops of 2007 convinced you to come out from behind the curtain, and come back to write, direct, and produce your own work.  Which was, naturally, brilliant.  And also extremely profitable, more than making up for the loses of the year before.  And it managed to maintain the songs and the stars, but add in a little bit more heart and grit underneath to appeal to the new audience.

18.  Rab Ne not only brought you out of retirement, it also pointed you in a new direction for the studio.  If it is now making its own movies, its own soundtracks, its own DVDs and prints, why not make its own stars as well?  Anushka was the first, Ranveer the second.

19. After Ranveer came Arjun Kapoor,

20.  And Sushant Singh Rajput, gambles that ultimately paid off and gave you more loyal in house stars.

21. And now here we are today, you have a whole stable of regular Yash Raj stars.  More importantly, you have a stable of Yash Raj directors. Like Vijay Krishna Acharya, who failed with his first film (Tashan),

22. But hit it big with his second (Dhoom 3), and is now primed for the biggest film of all, Thugs of Hindustan.

23. Or Maneesh Sharma, who started with a little light weight rom-com


24. And moved a few years later had been mentored into making the most challenging film of the year.

25.  You did the same with Ali Abbas Zafar, taking him from this:

26. To this


27.  Looking to the future doesn’t mean you forget the past.  You took the time to meticulously produce your father’s last film, an old school traditional love story.

28.  And finally, you took a risk!  Befikre may not have worked out, in many ways, but it is still impressive that you were willing to take that risk.


Finally, bonus!  I watch a lot of fanvids, and this is the best I’ve ever seen.  And you made it for your own movie!


8 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Adi! I Will Let Your Work Speak For You

  1. Long, long ago, I learned a saying from the Japanese: enter the mold and then break it. It referred to the discipline of learning a craft and understanding the underlying culture before innovation. It seems that Adi exemplifies this.


    • I love that saying! And yes, except with Befikre I think he may have accidentally broken something that really needed to stay together. Not his best work.

      Rab Ne though, that saying perfectly captures what he was going after.


    • That puzzles me too! I think maybe Chandni? But I’m not sure. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was Pamela Chopra’s voice doing it. Or else Lata Mangashkar.


        • It does sound kind of like this song:

          But not quite. Maybe they used a snatch left over from it for the opening titles of Silsila and that’s what the Yash Raj theme comes from.

          I would check, but I’m not paying $1.49 to youtube to watch a movie I own, and I’m also not opening up all my boxes to try to dig out my copy!

          On Sat, May 20, 2017 at 9:31 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



          • Found it! You were right, it was part of the Silsila opening titles! Play this from 33 seconds 🙂


  2. Pingback: Hindi Film 101: For Aditya and Karan’s Birthday Week, A History of Yash Raj and Dharma Films! – dontcallitbollywood

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