ALI PETER JOHN
Those were unusually hectic time for Yash Chopra and Yash Raj Films. He was directing one big film after another starting with “Lamhe” and then going on with “Chandni”,“Dil Toh Pagal Hai” and “Veer Zaara” which were all big films made on big budgets, shot on exotic locations in India and abroad, had great music which was always a highlight of his films and all of them made with big stars which he often said was his weakness which he couldn’t do without.
Yash Chopra as a director was always known for his passion and total involvement in a making of his films and physically demonstrated every scene to his actors, even the most romantic and intimate scenes, especially through his actresses who used to be surprised with his energy to work long hours without losing his enthusiasm a bit. He once told me, “I am the captain, if I don’t show the enthusiasm, how do I expect any of my team members to be enthusiastic?”
I used to regularly meet him in his office at Vikas Park in Juhu when he was not shooting and during his shooting when he was shooting in any of the studios or locations in Mumbai and wherever he was, there was excitement and life all around him.
Then, his son Aaditya came on the scene and almost took over Yash Raj Films, especially after he created history with “DDLJ” and then “Mohabbatein”, which besides doing many other good things, gave Amitabh Bachchan one more lease of life. Aaditya gave his father another big gift when he presented him with the plan for the brand new Yash Raj Studio at Andheri and saw to it that it was ready for his father with a posh fourth floor office with a garden for his morning and evening walks.
Yash Chopra was a happy man and a delighted father, but the Yash Chopra I knew for more than thirty-five years seemed to be getting tired easily, physically and there was a certain sense of losing interest in the work he once said he loved more than all the beautiful women he loved. He kept saying he was losing interest in the way filmmaking was changing and how everything was only revolving around money and no one cared for the good old values for which his generation were willing to live and die.
But, his love for making films could not die so easily. He had many subjects in mind, but he finally decided to make “Jab Tak Hai Jaan” and vowed that it would be his last film as a director and took the entire industry by shock. He did not give any specific reasons for giving up a passion which was second only to his life.
He made “Jab Tak Hai Jaan” with his now favourite actor, Shah Rukh Khan, the Yash Raj girl, Anushka Sharma and Katrina Kaif was an entirely new experience for him. But even in this last film one could see him working under the most daunting circumstances with people less than half his age and giving them a complex. Yash Chopra had three of the best lieutenant in Aaditya, cinematographer Anil Mehta and above all Shah Rukh Khan, who called Yash “a father figure, a master and a mentor nonpareil”. The actresses like all the other addresses who had worked in the past were completely bowled over by the ‘romantic Yash uncle’ who never compromised when it came to good work.
Yash Chopra was a very relaxed man when he completed the shooting. He told his wife, Pam that they could now plan to fulfil all their unfulfilled ambitions and dreams. And was thrilled because she had never had Yash to herself ever since he walked out with him to live in a one-room apartment provided to Yash by his well-wisher and guide Gulshan Rai, to set out on a journey whose destination was not clear.
Yash continued to go to his fourth-floor office at Yash Raj Studio. He spent hours looking at all the awards and trophies he had won from different parts of the world and the most expensive and valuable books he confessed he had never read as he didn’t have the time, but would now read all of them as he had all the time now.
But, he didn’t know that time would play a dirty game with him to. One day, there was talk about his being stung by a dengue mosquito in his own spotlessly cream office. His condition grew worse. He was rushed to the Lilavati Hospital in Bandra where some of the best doctors fought a grim battle to save him, but time had already taken a decision for him. The great Yash Chopra now stands as a bronze statue at the gate of Yash Raj Studio. He will never direct a film again. But the films he has directed will keep him alive as long as films are made in India or anywhere else in the world.
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