Happy Birthday Yashji! 85 Reasons I Love You

Okay, let’s do this!  A full 85!  I broke it into 3 parts last year, but this year I think I will just do one massive post. (this is an updated and reposted post from last year)

1. 1. I love you because you survived your family being separated through Partition as a teenager and never used it as a hard luck story or a reason to be pitied.

2. I love you because you obeyed the command of your brother BR Chopra, who was also your only family in Bombay, and went off on your own to find another director willing to hire you before asking him for a job.

3. I love you because you worked away in BR’s production house for years and years, happy to contribute to the success as a whole without getting any credit for yourself.

4. I love you because you proved your ability to follow BR’s house style first, before striking out on your own, making Dhool Ka Phool and Dharmapurtra before Waqt and Daag.

5. I love you because you reacted to surviving Partition by making a series of movies about different interfaith relationships.

6. I love you because you waited until you were 38 to get married, to a 32 year old woman who you heard singing at a wedding party.

7. I love you because you introduced Shashi Kapoor in his very first movie, starting a creative collaboration that would last for years, and a friendship that would last until he came to your funeral 51 years later.

8. I love you because you went off on your own at age 39, a year after marriage, and started your own studio rather than continue to live in your brother’s shadow.

9. I love you because you had your first child the same year as your first studio, Aditya and Yash Raj Films growing up together.

10.  I love you because you know what you wanted to do from the very beginning, your first Yash Raj Studios picture was remarkably similar to your last.

11. I love you because your first movie included this glorious ode to anti-communalism.  Also, cute baby!

12. I love you because your first movie also had this lovely love song, with all the sensitive heroine close-ups and running through beautiful scenery that would become your trademark.

13.  I love you because, look at the clever curtain work you were already doing, in your very second movie!  About 2 and a half minutes in.

14.  I love you because, Shashi Kapoor!

15. And then there’s Waqt!  The movie where the Yash Chopra brand really took off.  Multi-starrer, multi-generation, lots of color and fashion and songs and spectacle and tears.

16. And you even included a song for an older couple, married for years and still in love, so good that Aditya used it again in DDLJ over three decades later.

17. You also had the classic Yash Chopra sets.  Gorgeous onscreen, and perfectly calculated to help give background to the characters.  In this case, a vivacious modern and international girl, free and open and easy.

18.  And the whole gorgeous location setting and vacation romance!  Just a hill station in India, it would take a few more years before you got to Switzerland.

19.  And a party song.

20. And of course there was a love triangle!

21. And finally, the idyllic love song in the garden.

22.  I love you because you followed up Daag with Joshila, a thriller, and something completely different for your new studio.

23.  And then Deewar.  Your first collaboration with Amitabh Bachchan, your first collaboration with Salim Javed, and the start of relationships that would literally last until your death.

24. Deewar was also the first time you showed one of your biggest talents, finding the true star identity hiding within an actor.  Really, for the first time, revealing the true cut of the jewel that is Amitabh Bachchan.

25. Deewar is a movie so much greater than the sum of its parts.  But your next film with Amitabh, that’s where the true genius comes through, as you took the Amitabh star image and combined it with Shashi, Rishi, Neetu, Raakhee, and Waheeda into some kind of amazing collage.

26. So long as where talking about Kabhi Kabhi, let’s take a look at those songs!  I love this one, Neetu and Rishi being so cute together!

27. And they are even cute in the requisite little love triangle.

28. And the requisite young couple in love in the snow song.

29. And the same movie had a completely different love song in the snow!

30.  Really, a completely different love story altogether!  Where Rishi and Neetu just exude joy and youth and promise, Amitabh and Raakhee are something else.  Which is probably why their romance is over before it even starts, before the movie itself even starts.

31. I also love picturing Amitabh basing this scene on the many thousands of times he must have seen his father perform his poems live.  And come to think of it, now Amitabh does!

32. And in the middle of all this joy and young love and poetry and tragedy, there is still time for a simple story of a mother who loves her daughter.

33. I love you because you followed up Kabhi Kabhi with a string of multi-starrers as only you could do them.

34. I love you because even while you were making a film a year, you kept your growing family in the loop, your wife sitting in on music meetings and investors hosted in your living room.

35. I love you because you had your first real setback with Silsila, and you dusted yourself off and picked yourself up and saved your money and came back 3 years later with another film.

36. And I love you because that film, Mashaal, was the first time you worked with Dilip Kumar, and you looked into him and saw not just the aging matinee idol, but a brilliant character actor.

37. Those multi-starrers after Kabhi Kabhi include Trishul, possibly my favorite Salim-Javed script with my all time favorite Amitabh intro.  So good you reused it in your final movie for Shahrukh Khan!

38.  And the first Yash Raj Dhoom song!

39. And then there’s Silsila.  Let’s start with the first overseas fantasy song of Indian film, and count down the other groundbreaking elements from there.

40. And then there’s the first time Amitabh used his own voice to sing on film.

41.  The first time seasons were used so clearly as metaphors for a relationship.  We already had the full bloom of summer, here’s spring, where it all starts.

42. And fall, when it is all dying.

43. Silsila may have been a brilliant movie, but Mashaal was no slouch either.  Check out Dilip sahib’s amazing breakdown in the rain!

44.  I love you because the 80s may have been your dark period for financial success, but you never let that stop you, you just kept making movies.

45. I love you because you came out of it in 1989 when you discovered your new muse, not another hero, but a heroine, Sridevi.

46. I love you because both Lamhe and Chandni are possible the most complex and sympathetic female roles in all of Indian film.

47. And now we are going to watch basically every song from Lamhe and Chandni!  Starting with Chandni, because it came first.  I love that the title song comes not when she is in love and happy, but when she is contemplating a life on her own.

48.  And even the love songs are so focused on her, Rishi in some boring sweater while she gets to shine in a whole array of saris.

49. Well, at least she gets to shine in her home ground.  There is the Delhi set love song with Sridevi convincingly playing the shy country girl.

50.  But that one song with Rishi as focus is more than made up for this awesome sequence where you use Sridevi to forceably inject energy into the scene.

51. Even after she had her heart broken, you still gave her that spark!

52.  And then there’s that intro song!  Where you made the audience fall in love with Sridevi at the same time as Rishi.

53. And then there’s Lamhe!  Less commercial successful, way more interesting to think about.  Like the way Sridevi clearly defines her two characters, even in the way they dance.  This is clearly the mother Sridevi.

54. While this is the daughter.

55.  Not to mention that you included a massive medley homage song sequence before anyone else!

56.  I love you because you proved yourself human by making one truly terrible movie, Parampara.

57. I love you because even with that terrible movie, you were still the starmaker, launching Saif Ali Khan.

58.I love you because you really discovered “Shahrukh Khan”.  That is, the Shahrukh who combined the good Indian boy with the dark and twisty inside, the actor who could pull off the love songs and the monologues, everything that really sets him apart.

59.  I love you because Darr not only brought the real Shahrukh out, it also brilliantly deconstructs the macho “hero” character, showing his essential uselessness.

60. I love you because Darr is also where Aditya and Shahrukh became friends and future collaborators, thanks to you bringing your twenty-something kid who wanted to be a director along with you on the shoot.

61.  I love you because you managed to film a song that never shows Shahrukh’s face, and yet is so essentially “Shahrukh-y” that it is considered one of “his” greatest hits.

62.  I love you because you also crafted one of the essential Holi songs, which isn’t afraid to dig into the darker side of Holi, the unwanted attention it can bring to woman.

63.  I love you because you let your son cut together the trailer for this movie, making one of the all time great trailers ever, in any film industry.  And something that India had never seen before.  Just the first time Aditya would break through barriers.

64. I love you because you took 4 years between Darr and your next film, choosing to focus instead on helping your son get his start, by making sure he was able to pull together his whole vision for his debut.

65. I love you because after your son proved himself with his debut, you wasted no time in bringing him into the business as a full partner and, soon after, making him the head of the whole studio.

66. I love you because while DDLJ set off rumors that you had “ghost-directed”, by Dil To Pagal Hai, the rumors were reversed, that Aditya was helping you.  And in both cases, you never acknowledged them.

67. I love you because this was your second collaboration with Shahrukh Khan, and you took his stardom forward, just like following Deewar with Kabhi Kabhi for Amitabh, by showing how his complex image onscreen could be used for a lover just as easily as for a villain.

68. I love you because, once again, you proved that your films aren’t just about the hero.  Giving Madhuri one of her best roles, and Karisma possibly her all time greatest.

69.  I love you because, through out all this, you were just a very nice man.  After you death, stories came pouring out, how you would call people up, ones you had never worked with, to congratulate them on their new films, to compliment them on a good performance, to wish them happy birthday.

70.  I love you because, while your son quietly revolutionized the industry from his corporate office, you were the face of the studio, doing the public appearances and interviews Aditya couldn’t handle.

71.  I love you because you died as you lived, being loyal to your friends.  Fighting through a  fever to go to Amitabh’s 70th birthday party, and being hospitalized the next day after wearing yourself out.

72. I love you because your final movie came out after your death, and after all of that sappy melodrama, it was the tribute to you over the end credits that really made me sob.

73.  I love you because the title poem for your final film could also be seen as a thesis statement on your life and your art.  That you would keep working and making art until your heart stopped beating.

74. I love you because in your last film, you included one of my all time favorite songs, which was also a lovely tribute to your Punjabi heritage, one last time.

75. I love you because you are such a nice man, I know you won’t mind sharing your birthday post with your nephew Ravi.  Who directed the amazingly epic The Burning Train.

76. While Adi inherited Yash Raj films, Ravi inherited BR Chopra Films, and gave them their most profitable hit shortly after with the Mahabharat TV serial.

77. After the Mahabharat, things were slow for a while at BR Chopra Films.  But they picked up again with the release of Baghban, the kind of social familial drama that BR founded the studio on.

78.  Only, unlike the BR films, Baghban also included some fun and commercial song sequences that were distinctly Yash Chopra-like.  Like this song, for Valentine’s Day.

79. And this one, for Holi.

80.  And then you followed up Baghban with another social drama film, one with a more controversial message hidden under all the gloss.  Although the gloss was gorgeous!

81.  But the soul of it was in sequences like this.

82.  Okay, enough of that, back to Yashji! I love you because just before your death, you did an amazing no holds barred interview with Shahrukh.

83.  I love you because for your first birthday after your death, your family held a tribute fashion show.  How perfect for the king of costumes!

84. I love you because even after death, you continued to be a mentor, inspiring your sons announcement of his next film:

Image result for aditya chopra film announcement

85.  And finally, I love you for this, just all of this.


2 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Yashji! 85 Reasons I Love You

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