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Ali Ki Zubaan Se.. Ali Peter John

BIRTHDAY SPECIAL: AADITYA CHOPRA A VERY PRIVATE PERSON-RARELY FOUND IN THIS INDUSTRY

He was the son of Yash Chopra who could have taken any kind of advantage of his father’s name and banner, but he was a very different kind of boy even when he was in school and then in college – Ali Peter John
He and his brother, Uday had a bungalow built by their father which was named after them, ‘Aadityaodaya’, but he loved walking the streets of Mumbai with a sling bag around his shoulders and was never seen talking to anyone.
More than his studies he was interested in watching films and he made it a rule for himself to see every new film that was released on a Friday and always in ‘the first day, the first show’. It did not matter what kind of film it was or who the stars were or whether it was a Hindi film, English film or films made in any other language. He always saw a film in whichever area the film was released and saw the film all alone. It was this kind of madness for films that his father, Yash Chopra noticed and recognized his passion for cinema and did not do or say anything to stop him. He ultimately decided to assist his father and within no time, his father saw the perfect partner in him. They shared a mutual admiration society, but Aaditya always had his say and told his father about what he felt about his film, however big or great the film his father had made.
It was after years of perfecting the art of making cinema, he made bold to tell his father that he was ready to direct his own film and his father gave him all the freedom to make his first film the way he wanted in every way. The result was “Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge” which is still running at the Maratha Mandir in Mumbai after it has crossed the twenty-five year mark. The success of the film gave every filmmaker, including his father, who openly admitted that he was proud of his son and knew that his banner, Yash Raj Films was in safe and strong hands. He did not give a single interview during the entire making of the film and never invited the press while he was shooting.

 

He met his father in his office at Vikas Park and told him that the film had done a buisness of several crores and his father admitted that all the films he had made put together had not made so much money. Aaditya went on to make “Mohabbatein” which was in a way a comeback film for Amitabh Bachchan who he had teamed with Shah Rukh Khan for the first time. The film did not do as well as his path-breaking film, “DDLJ”. He gave his father another big surprise when he showed him his plan to build a studio of their own which would be basically for their films and only in rare cases for others. He built the studio according to his own design. It was during the building of the studio that he quietly married Payal who was an architect and helped him in designing certain parts of the studio, especially the office built for the exclusive use of his father, with a ground to have his walks whenever he wanted to.
Aaditya was a leading filmmaker, but he always tried to assist his father and planned every little details about the mahurats and the premiers of his father’s films. He was active till he was needed to complete the plans be had and then vanished from the scenes. He was neither present at the premiere of “DDLJ” or any other film made under the banner of Yash Raj Films. He has his own office on one of the floors of the studio and there is silence all over when he walks around the studio all by himself, with no assistants or other men or women from YRF walking with him. There have been many people who have tried to find out how his mind works, but neither his father or anyone else has succeeded.

 

If there is one thing he avoids, it is the glare of the limelight. I was bringing out a special issue of ‘Screen’ on the request of Yash Chopra when Yash Raj Films completed twenty-five years. I asked his father to get me an interview with him, but his father said, “you can ask for anything, but this is one thing I will never be able to do for you. I had to only write about my observations of him, like I am writing this piece also with my observations of him and the material his father provided me long time ago. He is such a one-man show and such a private person that even when he got married to Rani Mukherjee, he made it a point to see that the marriage took place in Italy, if I am right. This man deserves a special award for being a part of an industry which thrives on publicity and making ones presence felt in the best or worst way possible.

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Tags: Bollywood, Bollywood News, Bollywood Updates, Television, Telly News, Yash Chopra, Yash Raj Films, DDLJ, Rani Mukherjee

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Ali Peter John Golden Memories

When I Enjoyed Holi with the Living Legends… – Ali Peter John

Natraj Studio was like my second home and the men who ruled Ntaraj Studio were like characters from some epic for me. It was the first real studio I had entered and had become a part of my life.    Ali Peter John 

It was like a blessing from god to me to know the mahaarathis of Natarj Studio. At the beginning of the Studio was the office of Shakti Samanta who had started life as a school teacher and had risen to be one of the leading filmmakers of India. As one walked ahead , there was the office of Ramanand Sagar who had started as a story writer and journalist and lived on to recreate the Ramayan and other major and minor epics. Bang opposite Sagar’s office was the office of Atma ram , the younger brother of Guru Dutt who could never reach anywhere near the peaks of excellence his brother had . Next to Atma ram’s office was the office of Pramod Chakravorty who was a typist in the Films division and had with his very first few films established himself as a commercial Hindi filmmaker whose graph of success could not be touched easily. And at the other end was the large office of F.C(Fakeerchand) Mehra who had crossed over from Afghanistan as a seller of dry fruits and had not only made big films , but had also owned theatres like the Minerva in Bombay and the Golcha in Delhi in partnership with Shammi Kapoor .

They were all achievers and I was not even a struggling journalist, but as luck or god may have willed it , I was soon close to all of them and I was a part of all their good times and bad times …

It was this closeness that made them invite me to all there parties , events and birthdays. And Holi was one of them. 

All the five partners and friends came together to celebrate Holi . The celebrations started at 11 in the morning with a pooja with Ramanand Sagar as the priest conducting the pooja . All the partners made it a point to bring their families and friends in the industry and outside to be a part of their celebrations. There was a feeling of goodness about their Holi party and very little colour and very little dancing or drinking even though there was a flow of bhaang for all the guests . The highlight was the food which mostly came from the house of Ramanand Sagar which was the best dishes of the vegetarian kind . The festivities continued till 3pm and they all left for their homes where they had a second round of celebrations which went on till the early hours of the next day.

I have many memories of this Holi but the Maharathis , but this one stays on my mind. A huge imported car entered the gate and from it emerged a tall woman dressed in jeans and a colourful top . All the mahaarathis surrounded her and kept praising her for her beauty . It seemed like she was known to all the mahaarathis who kept looking at her till her car left the gate. I was baffled and when the woman left, I generally asked the Maharathis who that woman was and they all looked at me ss if I was an idiot and Shakti Samanta said, ” arre bewaqoof , 18 lakh ki heroin tere bagal mein khadi hoti hain aur tum usse pahechan ti bhi nahi. Woh Hema Malini thi” that one incident gave me such a complex that I still find it difficult to recognise even the most popular and famous female actor , especially when they are not in their make up, whether it was Hema Malini then or Deepika Padukone or Aalia Bhatt today .

HOLI AAYEGI AUR JAAYEGI , LEKIN KYAA AISE FILMS JAGAT KE MAHAAARATHI WAPAS AAYENGE?

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Ali Peter John Golden Memories Sitare

A Lonely young man from Delhi walked alone in Bombay, crowds followed him and made the king of their hearts

He had lost both his parents before he was sixteen and had to find his own destination. Shah Rukh’s father who was a highly qualified man but with little or no ambition gave him lessons for a lifetime before he died and one of the lessons, Shah Rukh remembers is the line, “jo Kuch Nahi Karte, Woh Kamaal Karte hai”. Shah Rukh took the lesson seriously and made a place of eminence and excellence with the first few plays he did and then with the serials for dd like Dil Dariya, Fauji, and Circus. He wanted to play football or cricket but turned out to be an actor par excellence.

– by  Ali Peter John

Shah Rukh was well on top of his world

He was still uncertain about his future when Bombay called. Hema Malini who was making her debut as a director with a film called Dil Aashna Hai needed a young actor and found that actor when she saw Shah Rukh in the role of the son of a circus owner and she called him to Bombay and cast him opposite Divya Bharti in her film.


Some other filmmakers like Aziz Mirza, Saeed Mirza, and Kundan Shah cast him in their small but meaningful and entertaining films and he attained some kind of stardom with Rakesh Roshan’s king uncle and then again in his Karan Arjun and he was well on top of his world. He had a time which could have changed all his time when he played extremely negative roles in films like Baazigaar, Deewana, Anjaam, and darr, but his extraordinary talent made him break out of the cage he could have been trapped in and he who was Hated because of his Villanish roles was soon loved, admired and adored as the lover who gave a new definition to love.

Shahrukh KhanHe was a star and had to have people he trusted around him. He had a very good friend and advisor in Viveck Vaswani who had given him a place to live in when he first came to Bombay and who later even produced some good films with shah Rukh, films which gave shah Rukh the confidence that he could make it as a hero in what was called mainstream and commercial cinema. His friends from his television days, the Mirza brothers, and Kundan Shah made films with him which proved that he could walk the most difficult and different bridges with ease and excel.

There was Karuna Badwal, the daughter of one of the most efficient

He now needed a Staff to look after his career. He opted for Anwar Khan as his secretary and it was this Anwar khan who taught him what it took to be a successful actor and Anwar took Shah Rukh to a certain level from where he just couldn’t look back. But Anwar was a drinking man and he drank himself to death at a very young age. His death left a certain void in Shah Rukh’s career, but he had some of the best women advisors who guided and looked after his work. There was Karuna Badwal, the daughter of one of the most efficient star Secretaries who was the man behind the success stories of Danny Denzongpa and Manisha Koirala. Karuna was almost like the ideal representative of the star brand called SRK. He had Mandvi Sharma as the head of his PR department and now he has pooja who looks after Red Chillies, the empire he has built.

Kabir who was considered to be as good as any CEO or business manager

Shahrukh KhanHe needed a driver when he had just become a star and took on Kabir who was once the personal driver of Rajesh Khanna and then Mithun Chakraborty and was supposed to be a lucky mascot for any star on the rise. Kabir at one time had even taken charge of the new shah rukh’s career and even decided on which car he should buy (shah Rukh drove his first Pajero when Kabir was his driver). Kabir also took decisions on what time shah Rukh would reach which or whose shooting.

Shahrukh KhanKabir who was considered to be as good as any CEO or business manager, however, went berserk with his position and it didn’t take long to know the truth about him and he was soon out of a job and once people in the industry who had heard stories about his “stardom” during the time he worked for Rajesh and Mithun Surprisingly and shockingly shunned him and within no time Kabir who only wore a stark white uniform and had apartments and cars of his own was seen traveling in buses with his clothes disheveled and his personality completely changed. He kept looking for new actors who he believed he could still take control of, but till I last saw him in the seat next to me on the BEST bus, nothing had happened and I have not seen him again.

Yash Chopra and Yash Johar, who played a vital role not only in Shah Rukh’s profession but also in getting him the property

SRK met many other men and women who literally molded his career, but the two men who made a very definite impact on his life and career were Yash Chopra and Yash Johar, who played a vital role not only in his profession but also in getting him the property at bandstand where the palace of Badshah khan, Mannat now stands.
And what has made Shah Rukh what he is today is his great attitude of gratitude for all those and all that has happened to him.Shahrukh Khan

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Around the web Features Jyothi Venkatesh Latest Trending

How Yash Chopra Got The Brainwave For The Title Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge

The song Le Jayenge Le Jayenge Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge that he had composed for the film Chor Machaye Shor became so popular that twenty-one years later, Yash Chopra decided to register his Shah Rukh Khan- Kajol starrer with the same title.
Jyothi Venkatesh

This gem of information was revealed by none other Divya Solgama

Yash chopraIronically when the song was recorded, Shashi Kapoor did not at all like the song and had even dared to suggest to N.N. Sippy and Ravindra Jain to get another song composed for the film as he felt that no one will like the song. And of course he was proved wrong.

Kishore Kumar was so impressed by the song Ghungroo Ki Tarah Bajta Hi Raha Hoon Main that he was asked to sing by Ravindra Jain for Chor Machaye Shor that he insisted on calling Ravindra Jain as Ravindra Dada to his embarrassment as Kishore was elder to Ravindra Jain. This gem of information was revealed by none other Divya Solgama who was also in the panel discussion with Viveck Vaswani and N.N Sippy during the online 5th Lonavala International Film Festival recently

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News & Gossip

Kajol reveals how yash chopra gave her an experience of a lifetime with dilwale dulhania le jaayenge as the film completes 25 years

Jyothi Venkatesh

Kajol and Shah Rukh Khan starrer Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge has created a huge impact on romance movies in Bollywood. Even after 25 years, the Aditya Chopra directorial continues to impress the audience across the globe. From the leads romancing in snow-clad mountains, the thrill of going on a Euro trip, the handsome hero serenading his beautiful heroine in a mustard field with one of the most romantic songs to the memorable dialogues, Yash Chopra made sure every YRF is truly created like a masterpiece.

Talking about getting a chance to work with the veteran filmmaker, Kajol shares, “It was an honour to have received an opportunity to work with Yashji. I miss him dearly. He used to share his wisdom with us whenever we got a chance, just talking to him helped Shah Rukh and me gain an insight into the industry.”She further added, “It’s still unbelievable that DDLJ was made and released 25 years ago.

So many cherished memories! I’ll always be grateful to Yashji and Aditya Chopra for making me a part of such an amazing starcast and an evergreen movie.”Kajol went on star in multiple memorable movies, creating a mark in the industry with versatile roles, but even today her character Simran is highly cherished by the audience.

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News & Gossip

I Do Not Show My Film Before It’S Completion To Any One, Not Even My Distributors, Because I Do Not Wish To Get Confused

Jyothi Venkatesh

To commemorate Yash Chopra’s 88th birth anniversary which was held on Sunday September 27, we at bollyy.com and Mayapuri reproduce this interview of YASH CHOPRA with JYOTHI VENKATESH which, believe it or not , appeared 44 years ago in the now defunct monthly DREAMSTAR issue dt March 1976

I had stopped celebrating my birthday after my mother died.Till my younger brother, Roy continued the tradition set by my mother and started celebrating my birthday in a bigger and more stylish way with the biggest names in the film industry attending the parties celebrated at my humble home.My brother died young and I lost all interest in celebrating my birthdays. I used to receive hundreds of bouquets on my birthday, but I called all the florists and ask them to stop sending bouquets to my house. It was an emotional decision I had taken, but there was another reason, I suddenly felt that the countless flowers were sacrificing their lives to make me feel happy.... It was another birthday and I had taken a decision to celebrate all my birthdays with work. I was making plans to spend my birthday by going to office and following my regular schedule, but at 9:30.before I could set out for office, I received a call from a very dear friend and a man who shared his passion for love and romance with me ,the great Yash Chopra who I once only thought about or read about or saw his films. He said ,"Kya romantic journalist,kya kar rahe ho aapke birthday per ?"I said I was going to office and in his typical way he said,"saale behn ke takke, janam din per bhi koi kam karta hai ? Aa ja ghar per naashta karte hai romance vomance ki baatein karte hai aur phir office jaakar love ke baare mein research karte hai.Main wait karta hoon kyunki tum se accha pyaar aur romance ki baatein main kisse kar sakta hoon ? Tum pyaar ke modern poojari ho aur main purane zamaane ka prem poojari hoon. Aa jaana behn ke takke dus baje tak.Dagaa mat dena,aaj romance ka mood bohot bhaari hai ". How could I, a lover say no to a greater lover ? We had a very heavy breakfast of aaloo partha,kheema and the best lassi I had ever tasted.We than left for his office at Vikas Park. He asked his receptionist Sally and his office assistant Bala to see that he was not disturbed by anyone for the next two hours. Our "research"on love started by his telling me how he had become a "poojari"of love after he had read the love poems of Sahir Ludhianvi when he was in college. He had become a die hard fan of Sahir and had decided that if he ever made films, he would have Sahir as the lyricist of all his films. Destiny had its own plan for Yash. His father wanted him to go to London to study for a course in the ICS ,but he had already made up his mind to follow his elder brother, B.R.Chopra and make films.He was sent to Bombay by his father to spend some time with his brother before going to London. Yash saw Sahir sitting with his brother one evening and that was the moment when he decided that he would not go to London and would not be an ICS officer, but would ask his brother to take him on as one of his assistants. He had to struggle to convince his brother who wanted him to do his ICS as he did not want to defy their father. But Yash manged to convince his brother and finally got his chance to assit his brother during the making of "Naya Daur ".It was during the non-stop shooting of the film but Yash made friends with Sahir and Dilip Kumar, the kind of friendship that was to last very long. Yash finally managed to make some good films and made his best film," Waqt " which was the first big multi-starer. While we were having a very delicious lunch which came from his house in his office, he told me how he had fallen in love with Sadhana, one of the heroines of "Waqt"and how he used to talk to her on the telephone for twelve hours at a stretch, sometimes all through the night .And while he was having a tangdi kabaab he told me about his long affair with Mumtaz,the heroine of his film "Aadmi Aur Insaan ". There love story had reached a point when Yash wanted to marry Mumtaz, but his brother did not want that to happen and fixed up his marriage with a girl from Delhi. Yash went to see the girl with his brother and did not show any interest after he saw the girl who was an air hostess working with BOAC .His brother was very upset and they came back to Bombay. Yash continued to have his love stories ,some short and some long ,till his brother took him to Delhi again telling him that they were going to see another girl for him.Yash was surprised to see the same girl he had seen once before and took a split second decision and decided to marry the girl. That girl went to be Mrs.Pamela Chopra who was married to him till the end and was the mother of Aaditya and Uday....Yash believed that love could happen to anyone at anytime and love knew no rules or laws and had its own ways of happening, continuing and even ending and man couldn't do anything about it, because love was a feeling that was only a feeling like feeling god. We were talking about love even after lunch and he said ,"ye romance aur pyaar agar nahi hote toh zindagi kya khaak hoti ? Pyaar hai toh tere aur mere jaise log zinda bhi hai aur humne hamari zindagi banaayi hai.Hum jaise premiyo ko pyaar ke mandir banakar poojna chahiye. " He kept talking about love and said that the world would have been a much better place if man had believed in the power of love more than the blessings of god. He also said something that surprised me then and continues to surprised me to this day .He said he couldn't make a film about love without falling in love with his heroine in the film he was making. I asked him how he could fall in love again and again and he said, "log agar duaa baar baar mang sakte hai, toh main pyaar bar kyun nahi kar sakta ? Mere liye toh pyaar se badhkar koi duaa ya mannat nahi hai " He then told me how he had fallen in love with his heroines like Raakhee, Rekha, Juhi Chawla,Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit .He said he would not have got the kind of performances he got from them if he was not in love with them. He took a break and talked about his love for Dilip Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar and said how he couldn't think of living without them He finally asked me about my love and when I told him about my fifty five year old long love story with one girl who grew into a woman and left me to become a christian nun ,I could see his eyes brimming with tears. I was overwhelmed when he said, "tu toh mera baap nikla, tereko toh logo ko prem poojari kehna chahiye, main tere pyaar ko salaam karta hoon. Aise tere aur mere jaise pyaar karne wale kya phir paidaa hoge ? Mujhe malum nahi, lekin mujhe ye malum hai ki agar humne jis tarah pyaar kya waise agar aur logo ne nahi kya toh ek din pyaar mar jaayega aur agar pyaar mar gaya, toh ye saari zindagi, ye saari shaurat, ye sari dhan daulat kis kaam ki ?" That evening I realised that my day with Yash Chopra and love was far more enriching and allovating than anything I would do to celebrate my birthday that day. It was one of those evening have stayed in my heart and will stay on as long as love lasts. Like Yash said he could not think of life without Dilip Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar, I still find it difficult to think of a life without a great lover and filmmaker like Yash Chopra.

Yash Chopra is at his best and gives you a good copy when he is provoked. Keeping this tip in mind, I made my way to his air-conditioned office at the Rajkamal Studios one sunny afternoon. I had not fixed an appointment with him. I had just rung up his wife and ascertained that Yash was at his office. With the release of his much talked about multi star venture Kabhi Kabhie round the corner, Yash was too busy to spare time  for an in  depth interview at such a short notice. However, I persisted and he relented for a mini interview.

Yash Chopra

How is it that you have been afflicted by this disease called multi star madness?  I ask Yash in dismay as we plonk in our seats after clearing his room of unwanted people. Yash does not even bat his eyelids. Almost spontaneously, he defends himself. “You cannot call this multi star phenomenon madness. It has become a necessity, you see. My film Kabhi Kabhie is basically an emotional story which abounds with different characters. To extract the performances of the artistes in the way that I want them, I had no other go but to change the casting pattern and load the film with well known stars who alone, I feel, can portray such difficult and complex roles.”

Yash Chopra’s Kabhi Kabhie stars Waheeda Rehman, Shashi Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan, Raakhee, Neetu Singh, Naseem and Rishi Kapoor in that order, with special appearances by Simi and Pariskhat Sahani. Yash resumes. “Going in for a multi star cast isn’t madness. It is filmmaking, which is in fact madness. There is absolutely no method at all and there is no grammar whatsoever in filmmaking. Anyone, who has got financial resources at his disposal today, can right royally become a producer with a flourish.”

Yash says that making this multi star venture Kabhi Kabhie was a big challenge to him. It is not that he hasn’t made films with big stars, before Kabhi Kabhie. Shashi Kapoor was the hero of his very first film Dharamputra as a full-fledged director. Waqt was the multi star venture of the 60’s while his first film Daag, as a producer-director had Rajesh Khanna, Raakhee and Sharmila Tagore in the cast. His next film Deewar had Amitabh Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor along with Parveen Babi and Neetu Singh.

“The multi star pattern in films is a healthy trend. It proves that our stars, who are accused to be egoists of the first order, are, in fact, human enough to shed their false egos and work in a spirit of camaraderie. I do not believe in perpetuating the image of my stars. I did not sign them and sit to manipulate the characters in the story just in order to suit the images of the stars. I had the entire script with me when I set out to cast the stars. I cast only those stars, who I had immense confidence would be able to do full justification to their roles. And luckily for me, the stars also agreed with my casting  pattern and accepted  their respective roles which I had conceived for them, instead of preferring to do any other role, when I narrated them the complete script. Amitabh agreed that he alone could do the role of the heart- broken, yet sensitive poet who loves Raakhee but marries Waheeda. Similarly Shashi also agreed that he was most suited to play the extrovert architect, a role which is in contrast to that which Amitabh plays. Rishi Kapoor plays Shashi Kapoor’s son. In the film, he could have played no other role, keeping in mind his young age.”

Yash pauses for a while, sips his tea and again resumes. “In the beginning Rishi Kapoor hesitated to accept the role but I was determined to cast only Rishi for that role. I understood that he was persuaded by his friends in the industry not to work in my film, since mine is a multi star cast venture and his role would naturally be an insignificant one. I asked Rishi to hear the story and his role before saying yes or no to my offer. He agreed and when he read the complete script at a meeting arranged by publicist Bunny Reuben at the latter’s residence, at Tardeo, Rishi was game for the role.”

“Amitabh Bachchan is a very good artist. But unfortunately he has got himself typed today as an angry young man. Of course, I do not deny that I am also partly to be blamed, because I had cast him as an angry young outlaw in Deewar which gave a fillip to his career after Zanjeer which resurrected him in the industry. In Kabhi Kabhie, Amit is breaking new grounds. He is underplaying his role. You will be able to see the romantic as well as the serious side of Amitabh’s facet. I know that it is risky to cast Amitabh in a different mould after he has acquired for himself a star image, but then I am of the opinion that it is a thrill to risk and succeed. I believe in variety. Who knows, tomorrow I may cast Amitabh again in a Deewar type of role.”

Didn’t you face any problem as far as securing the dates of your stars were concerned?”No. I relied more on the performance of the artistes whom I chose than on their market rate. I signed Waheeda at a time when she was practically out of the rat race and Raakhee when she had stopped accepting any offer after her marriage to Gulzar. Naseem is a cousin of Mumtaz and a new discovery of mine, who in all probability may make her first and last appearance in Kabhi Kabhie. Like Dimple, she has decided to get married and quit the industry, whether Kabhi Kabhie proves to be a big grosser at the box office or not. Parikshat Sahani and Simi also had only a couple of assignments in their hands when I signed them for this film.”

“Amitabh and Shashi did not enjoy the star adulation that both of them enjoy today. Thus I had practically no problem making a star cast film because Waheeda, Raakhee, Naseem, Simi and Parikshat all were completely free for my film and I had no date problem. Neetu adjusted all her outside assignments and went all out for my film since she has in Kabhi Kabhie the most memorable role of her career as an actress. Contrary to her glamorous image, I cast Neetu in a different mould. Wait till Kabhi Kabhie is released. Neetu will go places as a talented actor.”

“I have completed Kabhi Kabhie in 80 shooting days. It is a 100% outdoor film. Only a couple of songs had to be picturized inside the studios. I believe in completing my film by planning 7 or 8 months in advance for a month’s schedule. Kabhi Kabhie was launched on September 29, 1974. I could have completed the film earlier but I was busy with Deewar in between.”

Your story is based on a love story. In what way is it different from any other love story? Is it a film aimed at capturing the box office returns?

”In my film, I have not incorporated sex and violence. I did not succumb to any gimmick. The entire film is based on the universal element of LOVE. The difference between this and any other love story lies in the manner it has been presented by me on the screen”

Why do you not show your film to your stars before it is complete in all respects?

 “It is a principle of mine not to show any film of mine before I complete it to my stars. The same applies to my distributors too. The reason is that I do not wish to get confused by the opinion of others. I am glad all my artistes are understanding and do not insist on showing them the film before its completion. They only ask me once in a while whether the film is ready or not and I get the message.”

Why did you sign Khayyam for composing music after you had already signed Lakshmikant-Pyarelal for Kabhi Kabhie? “After I had signed on LP for the music, Sahir Ludhianvi recommended that the job of composing music be given to Khayyam since the subject needed a poetic touch and complete concentration which only a veteran composer like Khayyam would be able to give. I explained the reason to Lakshmikant and he very kindly agreed to walk out of the film and let me sign Khayyam. I am glad that now Khayyam’s value has been realized by the industry after he bagged a couple of more offers like Majnoon and Soni Mahiwal, the Rajesh Khanna-Neetu Singh starrer”.

Weren’t you supposed to make Deewar with Rajesh Khanna in the wake of the success of Daag? What went wrong and where?

 “Gulshan Rai had signed Rajesh Khanna for his next film. But when we got the Deewar script, we felt unanimously that only Amitabh could do full justice to the character. The film, which Rajesh was to do, was shelved later. In any case, Rajesh Khanna and I do not have good relations now, even though we both were very good friends during the making of Daag. He is now under the impression that I belong to his rival camp. However, it is not the same case with Sharmila Tagore. I did not take her for Kabhi Kabhie because Sharmila was pregnant at the time the casting for the film was done. Otherwise I’d have loved to cast her in the film. She is a terrific artist.”

Yash Chopra

What has the failure of Joshila taught you?

 “I worked on the sets of Joshila without any ready script on hand. Its failure has taught not to repeat the same mistake- not to make a film in future without a ready script on hand. I have also learnt not to make films with past hangovers. My policy is to forget about the fate of my earlier films while making my next.”

Why did you not take Jaya Bachchan for Kabhi Kabhie?

 “I had a valid point for not taking Jaya for the film. The relationship between the various characters in the film is such that I did not want Jaya to act in the film. I felt I had to make a choice to cast either Jaya or Amitabh. And I opted for Amitabh. I couldn’t take both Amit and Jaya in view of the fact that they are a star couple in real life. Yet Jaya was there with the unit more or less like an assistant to me. Full credit ought to go to her for taking pains to groom Naseem in the absence of Mumtaz.”

As a parting shot, I ask Yash how many assignments he had at the moment as a director. Yash flashes his enigmatic smile as he gets up from the seat and heads towards the recording room in the studios and says, “I have only one assignment. Gulshan Rai’s next with Amit in the lead. We have not decided upon the rest of the cast. After Kabhi Kabhie is released, I will swing into action with my next production. Basically I am more interested in wielding the megaphone than going in for production. For unlike today’s stars who work in dozens of films at the same time, I cannot concentrate on more than one or two films at a time.”

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News & Gossip

I Have Heard Of Lovers , Read About Them , Met Them , But I Have Never Known A Lover Like Yash Chopra

I had stopped celebrating  my birthday after my mother died.Till my younger brother, Roy continued the tradition set  by my mother and started celebrating my birthday in a bigger and more stylish way with the biggest names in the film industry attending  the parties celebrated at my humble home.My brother  died young and I lost all interest in celebrating my birthdays. I used to receive hundreds of bouquets on my birthday, but  I called all the florists and ask them to stop sending bouquets to my house. It was an emotional decision I had taken, but there was another reason, I suddenly felt that the countless flowers were sacrificing their lives to make me feel  happy….
It was another birthday and I had taken a decision to  celebrate all my  birthdays with work. I  was making plans to spend my  birthday by going to office and following my regular schedule, but  at 9:30.before I could set out for  office, I received a call from a very  dear friend and a man who shared his passion for love and romance with me ,the great  Yash Chopra who I once only thought about or read about or saw his films. He said ,”Kya romantic journalist,kya kar rahe ho  aapke birthday per ?”I said I was going to office and in his  typical way he said,”saale behn ke takke, janam din per bhi koi kam karta hai ? Aa ja ghar per naashta karte hai romance vomance ki baatein karte hai aur phir office jaakar love ke baare mein research karte hai.Main wait karta hoon kyunki tum se accha pyaar aur romance ki baatein main kisse kar sakta hoon ? Tum pyaar ke modern poojari ho aur main purane zamaane ka prem poojari hoon. Aa jaana behn ke takke dus baje tak.Dagaa mat dena,aaj romance ka mood bohot bhaari hai “. How could I, a lover say no to a greater lover  ?
We had a very heavy breakfast of aaloo partha,kheema and the best lassi I had ever tasted.We than left for his office at Vikas Park. He asked his  receptionist Sally and his office assistant Bala to see that he was not disturbed by anyone for the next two hours.
Our “research”on love started by his telling me how he had become a “poojari”of love after he had read the love poems of Sahir Ludhianvi when he was in college. He had become a die hard fan of Sahir and had decided that if he ever made films, he would have Sahir as the lyricist of all his films. Destiny had its own plan for Yash. His father wanted him to go to London to study for a course in the ICS ,but  he had already made up his mind to  follow his elder brother, B.R.Chopra and make films.He was sent to Bombay by his father to spend some time with his brother before going to London. Yash saw Sahir  sitting with his brother one evening and that was the moment when he decided that he would not go to London and would not be an ICS officer, but would ask his brother to take him on as one of his assistants. He had to struggle to convince his brother who wanted him to do his ICS as he did not want to defy their father. But Yash manged to convince his brother and finally got his chance to assit his brother during the making of “Naya Daur “.It was during the non-stop shooting of the film but Yash made friends with Sahir and Dilip Kumar, the kind of friendship that was to  last very long.
Yash finally managed to make some good films and made his best film,” Waqt ” which was the first big multi-starer. While we were having a very delicious lunch  which came  from  his  house in his office, he told me how he had fallen in love with Sadhana, one of the heroines of “Waqt”and how he used to talk to her on the telephone for twelve hours at a stretch, sometimes all through the night .And while he was having a tangdi kabaab  he told me about his long affair with Mumtaz,the heroine of his film “Aadmi Aur Insaan “.
There love story had reached a point when Yash wanted to marry Mumtaz, but  his brother did not want that to happen and fixed up his marriage with a girl from Delhi. Yash went to see the girl with his brother and did not show any interest after he saw the girl who was an air hostess working with BOAC .His brother was  very upset and they came back to Bombay. Yash  continued to have his love stories ,some short and some long ,till  his brother took  him to Delhi again telling him that they were going to see  another girl for him.Yash was surprised to see the same girl he had seen once before and took a split second decision and decided to marry the girl. That girl went to be Mrs.Pamela Chopra who  was married to him till the end and was the mother of Aaditya and Uday….Yash believed that love could happen to anyone at anytime and love knew no rules or laws and had its own ways of happening, continuing and even ending and man couldn’t do anything about it, because love was a feeling that was only a feeling like feeling god.
We were talking about love even after lunch and he said ,”ye  romance aur pyaar agar nahi hote toh zindagi kya khaak hoti ? Pyaar hai toh tere aur mere jaise log zinda bhi  hai aur humne hamari zindagi banaayi hai.Hum jaise premiyo ko pyaar ke mandir banakar poojna chahiye. “
He kept talking about love and said that the world would have been a much better place if  man had  believed in the power of love more  than the blessings of god. He also said  something that surprised me then and continues to surprised me to  this day .He said he couldn’t make a film about love without falling in love with his heroine in the film he was making. I asked him how he could fall in love again and again and he said, “log agar duaa baar baar mang sakte hai, toh main  pyaar bar kyun nahi kar sakta ? Mere liye toh pyaar se badhkar koi  duaa ya mannat nahi hai “
He then told me how he had fallen in love with his heroines like Raakhee, Rekha, Juhi Chawla,Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit .He said he would not have got the kind of performances he got from them if he was not in love with them.
He took a break and talked about his love for Dilip Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar and said how he couldn’t think of living without them
He finally asked me about my love and when I told him about my fifty five year old long love story with one girl who grew into a woman and left me to become a christian nun ,I could see his eyes brimming with tears. I was overwhelmed when he said, “tu toh mera baap nikla, tereko toh logo ko prem poojari kehna chahiye, main tere pyaar ko salaam karta hoon. Aise tere aur mere jaise pyaar karne wale kya phir paidaa hoge ? Mujhe malum nahi, lekin mujhe ye malum hai ki agar humne jis tarah pyaar kya waise agar aur logo ne nahi kya toh ek din pyaar mar jaayega aur  agar pyaar mar gaya, toh ye saari zindagi, ye saari shaurat, ye sari dhan daulat kis kaam ki ?”
That evening I realised that my day  with Yash Chopra and love was far more enriching and allovating than anything I would do to celebrate my birthday that day. It was one of those evening have stayed in my heart and will stay on as long as love lasts.
Like Yash said  he could not think of life without Dilip Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar, I still find it difficult to think of a life without a great lover and filmmaker like Yash Chopra.
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Dr. Yash Chopra The Lord Of Love In The Land Of Dreams

Ali Peter John

He was undoubtedly one filmmaker who gave love all the respect and reverence that he felt a glorious feeling like love deserved. Every film he made except a few like his first two films, “Dhool Ka Phool” and “Dharamputra” and “Ittefaq” which he made several years later had a very strong layer or several layers of love or call it romance if you may. Yash Chopra was not only a filmmaker who specialized in bringing love and romance alive in his films, he was a lover of many other things and beings in real life as well.

Yash was madly in love with films even while he was a student in Jalandhar. His father wanted him to go to England to do his ICS, but Yash had somehow made up his mind to do something in films. He was inspired by the success of his elder brother, B.R Chopra who had made it big in films and wanted to be someone like him. His ambition however faced a setback when his father asked him to go to Bombay and spend some time with his brother before taking off for England. Yash followed his father’s orders and his love for films got a very big boost when he saw his elder brother making magic with films. It was with great difficulty that he finally told his brother about his ambition. The brother finally realized how very mad the young Yash was about films and without letting their father know got him a job as an assistant to the comedian and filmmaker I.S Johar. The maker’s way of making films did not appeal to Yash and he begged of his brother to take him on as his own assistant. His brother understood his madness and made him one of his assistants. He proved to be a very valuable assistant and worth giving a break to as a director and that is what B.R Chopra did when he asked him to direct “Dhool Ka Phool” and “Dharamputra” and by the time he had made his third film, “Waqt”, he had made it as a remarkable director accepted by the masses, classes and the critics. His love for films had triumphed.

Yash Chopra went on to become one of the greatest romantic filmmakers and was also known for his love for life in general. Here are some of the loves he had and shared with me and others at different times.

He was carried away by the poetry of Sahir Ludhianvi which he read when he was in college and knew all his major poetry by heart and could recite Sahir’s lines at any time and under any circumstances. He was thrilled when he got to be friends with Sahir who was working as a lyricist for his brother. They spent several evenings discussing and reciting poetry and Yash said he was never as happy as he was in the inspiring company of Sahir who naturally wrote all the songs in Yash’s films till his last film with Yash, “Kabhi Kabhie”.

Yash loved Dilip Kumar who he had made friends with when he was an assistant during the making of “Naya Daur”. He was a devotee of both Dilip Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar and often said, “Yeh do log, agar inko kabhi bhi kuch ho gayaa toh main zindaa nahi rahoonga”. Life has its own ways and now Yash is gone and both Dilip and Lata are alive with all his memories stored in their minds.

Yash once took several hours to tell me about his genuinely falling in love with two of his heroines, Sadhana and Mumtaz. He talked about how he talked to Sadhana on the telephone for twelve hours at a stretch. He was so madly in love with Mumtaz during the making of “Aadmi Aur Insaan” that he told his brother that he wanted to marry her which he said his brother was against and so he had to give up his dream of marrying Mumtaz. He then was asked to get married. He saw a girl in Delhi who was approved by his brother and family and said no to the proposal. The second time a meeting was arranged for him and he realized that it was the same girl, Pamela, an air hostess working with BOAC, he believed that she was the woman destined for him and decided to marry her and said that he fell in love with Pam after he had married her.

Yash loved good music and had grand music sessions in his house, especially with poets like Sahir and Javed Akhtar around. Among his favourite music composers were Madan Mohan, Ravi and Kalyanji-Anandji. He had the knack of getting the best poetry and music not only for his films but for enriching his own life.

Yash loved the outdoors and as long as there was no trouble in Kashmir, he lost no opportunity to shoot in the valley. His other favourite location was Switzerland where he shot some of his best films and the government in Switzerland and its tourism departments even named a garden after him. He however had the opportunity to shoot his last film, “Jab Tak Hai Jaan” on his favourite location “heaven” (the name he had given Kashmir).

Yash was a great lover of good food. His normal breakfast was like a feast and so was his lunch and dinner. He made sure that his unit shared his homemade food with him. He knew every eating place, however big or small in every place in the world which he visited even once. He could suggest the best hotels in any place where he had shot his films and the best local foods.

He had a passion for good pens and used a Parker or a Sheaffer even to write his daily appointments and sign cheques and other important papers. I had brought out a special issue of “Screen” on the occasion of the silver jubilee year of Yash Raj Films. He was delighted with it, praised my work before his entire staff and then presented me with a set of Sheaffer pens and said that was the best gift he could think of offering a “fakeer” like me.

He liked his office to be spick and span. It was so when he had his office at Raj Kamal Studios, it was the same when his office was at Vikas Park in Juhu and it was at its very best when his son Aditya designed his office for him on the fourth floor of Yash Raj Studios in Andheri where he had his own green space to have his evening walk. It is an irony of fate that it was in this very office which he treated like home that a mosquito stung him and strangely brought to an end the life of one of the greatest lovers of life.
A NEPHEW WHO WAS LIKE A BROTHER-RAVI CHOPRA

By some kind of a divine providence, Ravi Chopra, the only son of B.R Chopra, elder brother of B.R Chopra shared his birthday with his uncle, Yash. B.R Chopra brought up Yash and Ravi like his sons. Yash started his career as an assistant of his father in films like “Dastaan” (Dilip Kumar in a double role with Sharmila Tagore and Prem Chopra) and “Dhund” (Navin Nischol, Zeenat Aman and Danny Dengonzpa) before he started assisting his “Yash Uncle” who was “both an uncle and an elder brother to me”.

Ravi assisted his uncle and elder brother Yash during the making of “Ittefaq” (Rajesh Khanna and Nanda). They were more like friends than the relationship they shared as uncle and nephew. They were brothers who literally grew up under the shadow of the giant tree, Dr. Baldev Raj Chopra who treated them like sons till Yash saw his ambitions grow and branched out of B.R Films to start his own production company, Yash Raj Films, a decision which is said to have shattered Dr. Chopra for whom Yash had made films like “Dhool Ka Phool”, “Dharamputra” and “Waqt”. Their relationship had strained and was the talk of the industry, but Yash and Ravi continued to be close.

Ravi got his first break to direct “Zameer” (starring the early Amitabh Bachchan, Saira Banu and Shammi Kapoor). The film though made on the lines of a cowboy western did not fare well at the box-office. Ravi directed other films like “The Burning Train” which was a takeoff on the Hollywood cult film, “The Towering Inferno”, a multi –starrer made with great ambitions but which again did not do well. He directed other films like “Mazdoor”(Dilip Kumar, Nanda and Raj Babbar), “Dahleez” and “Aaj Ki Aawaz” (in which Nana Patekar made his debut as a villain in Hindi films). He then joined his father in the making of the epic serial based on the maha epic “Mahabharat”. His father fell seriously ill and Ravi had to take up the responsibility of completing “Mahabharat” all by himself which he did very creditably


.
As his father grew more and more in age and was very sick, he handed over his precious subject “Baghbaan” to Ravi and the father lived long enough to see his son fulfil his dream of many years, to make “Baghbaan”. Ravi made the film with the magical jodi of Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini and the film was a big hit. He then made “Baabul” again with Amitabh and Hema and finally made “Bhootnath”, once again with Amitabh.
Yash and Ravi renewed their association during the ailing days of Dr. Chopra when Yash visited him regularly. Yash and Ravi had very grand memories of the time when they were assistants and when they met and had a good time and for them the best time was when they gorged on the best food available anywhere, at home or in any of their favourite restaurants. They also shared their love for good poetry and good music.

Ravi made “Bandha Yeh Bindaas Hai” and got into trouble with Walt Disney Productions the Hollywood company which charged him with lifting the story of one of its films and making it without making any major changes. Ravi had to pay a very heavy compensation which left B.R Films in financial trouble. The film has still to be released. Ravi was diagnosed with a serious lung ailment from which he never recovered.

He was very ill and was down in bed when Yash fell a victim to dengue and died. He was in no position to even react to the death of his uncle, nephew and best friend. Two years later, Ravi himself succumbed to his lung ailment which kept him out of action for seven long years during which time his wife Renu Chopra and sons Abhay and Kapil put all their resources together and produced “Bhootnath Returns” with Amitabh who was a dear friend of Ravi and who gave his family all the co-operation to make “Bhootnath Returns”, the film that brought back B.R Films from the red.

The passing away of Yash and Ravi within a short time has left their families to carry on their legacy. Yash Raj Films is now being taken care of completely by his able son, Aditya Chopra. B.R Films is all set to bounce back with three films under the joint captaincy of Renu Chopra and her two sons, Abhay and Kapil who have planned to revive the glory that B.R Films was under the leadership of Dr. B.R Chopra and later by Ravi Chopra who would have been seventy this year, but who was always full of life and cinema as long as he was hale and hearty. Such relationships (Yash and Ravi) do not happen often and they are remembered always.

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If It Was Not For The Influence Of Sahir Ludhianvi, Yash Chopra Would Have Ended Up As A Retired Ics Officer…

(One More Tribute To The  ‘Mazdoor Poet’ Who Continues To Cast His Spell)

Ali Peter John

It was some time in the fifties. There was some kind of a silent clash or call it even a ‘war’ between a father and his son. The father who was an aristocrat was very upset about his elder son, Baldev Raj first taking up film journalism as a career and then taking up filmmaking and was not even satisfied when the son had made a very big name for himself and even founded his own film making company and launched his own banner, BR Films. He was determined to see that his second son Yash Raj would not follow in his brother’s footsteps. He spends all his time in drilling the idea of becoming an ICS officer into the young and bright Yash Raj’s mind. But, little did the father know that Yash Raj had already come under the spell of Sahir Ludhianvi’s poetry like his entire generation had. It had become a case of ‘jina to Sahir ke liye marna to Sahir ke liye’ for Yash Raj and his father kept making all the preparations and even pulling all the right strings in the right places to make sure that Yash Raj got through and fulfilled his (the father’s) dream’ of having an ICS officer in the family, Yashraj was busy going more and more crazy about Sahir’s poetry and was busy making plans of how to reach Bombay when he knew Sahir was a very successful film lyricist and what was more important was that he was working with hey ‘bhai sahab’, BR Chopra. Destiny was slowly but surely wapking in favour of Yash Raj. All plans to send him off to London to study for his ICS were finalized, but his father asked him to take a break in Bombay and stay with his bhai sahab for a few days before flying to London. Yashraj was delighted, but didn’t have the courage to show it to his father….

Yash Raj reached Bombay, the city of freedom and the city of Sahir Ludhianvi and he had already given up all his dreams of going to London. He decided to stay on in Bombay come what may. It was only on the third day of his stay in Bombay that he came face to face with his idol, Sahir in his bhai sahab’s house and he was speechless and felt that even if he had seen him it was a dream fulfilled and he wanted nothing else. But he was dreaming too small, because Sahir was a poet and a man with a very big heart. The two men soon struck up a bond which was never to be broken till Sahir died a full four decade later. How Yash Raj managed to talk to his bhai sahab to talk to their father to let him stay on and take up filmmaking and not go to London and how Yash Raj became Yash Chopra the man behind Yash Raj Films and the king of romance in Indian cinema and how Sahir Ludhianvi was a major part of his success story till he made films like “Kabhi Kabhi”, “Trishul” and “Deewar” is another story….

Like Yash Chopra, I too was one of those lakhs of young people who were challenged and conquered by Sahir and his poetry. But, for the life of me, just like Yash, I too couldn’t even in my most remote dreams could think that I would first come face to face with Sahir, then come in close touch with him and then spend many mornings, afternoons and evenings with him…

Again, like many of the good and great things that have happened in my life, Sahir also happened because of my mentor, K.A Abbas. I had made all the progressive writers and poets in the office of Abbas Sahab and in his spacious library which was the only luxurious place he had, where they met to discuss crucial issues under his leadership. I remember Sahir calling Abbas Sahab, “ek hi saccha communist, baki ham sab kya hai?Sirf Russ ki vodka aur cigarette peene Wale tattu”. And I saw all the fiery writers and poets sitting quiet after having all the provocations to scream their left lungs out. No one had the courage to scream back at Sahir except Abbas.

There was some kind of an unwritten and undescribable bond between Sahir and me. I used to feel charged and inspired even if I saw him in his old white Fiat car (3825) sitting in the backseat uncomfortably. They were times when I even felt like running after his car which I once used to do you only when I saw big stars like Shammi Kapoor, Dev Anand, Raajkumar and Saira Banu.

The bond kept stronger when a joint ‘Screen’. I attended a press conference which was followed by a grand party to launch the recording of a song written by him for a film called “1965″ to be directed by JP Dutta, the war specialist, which unfortunately did not get made. There was the cream of the industry present at the Ball Room of the Taj Mahal Hotel. But to this day, I don’t know what attracted the Great Sahir Ludhianvi towards me. I was still a newcomer in ‘Screen’. I had still to start drinking the way I started drinking later. Sahir asked me why I was not drinking and he made me my first large peg of whisky. It was just pure Johnnie Walker whisky, no soda, no water, no nothing. He gave me the glass and asked me to hold the glass in the cusp of my right hand and drink the whiskey neat and asked, “never to insult whisky by adulterating it with soda or water”. I made him a promise which I unfortunately couldn’t keep, because when and how could I meet a Sahir Ludhianvi wherever and whenever I drink?

I started reading more of his poetry after that meeting with him at theTaj and a few months later I had to release my first ever book of poems, ‘Voices in Turmoil’ with who else, but my mentor and everything, Abbas Sahab as the chief guest. When the press which was present in good numbers even at that time for a function held in my own school hall, ask me who my favourite poet was, I didn’t blink twice and said, “Sahir Ludhianvi.”

The bond continued to grow as I one day discovered that the new house I had shifted to after leaving my gaon was hardly 5 minutes away from the old bungalow where Sahir lived when he was still new to Bombay and had kept one of the floors and given the rest of his house to his friend and doctor, RP Kapoor, who was also the personal doctor of celebrities like Lata Mangeshkar, BR Chopra, Ramanand Sagar and their entire family. He had built his own apartments in Juhu, next to the bunglow of his comorade, Balraj Sahni called ‘Ikram’. Sahir called his building ‘Parchhaiyan’ after his collection of poems, the name used in the poet, Vijay’s poems in “Pyaasa”.

I can never forget that night. He was hale and hearty the whole day. He was also drinking. Towards late evening, he felt the urge to go to his old bungalow in Versova. He was travelling by a taxi. He stopped the taxi outside his bungalow and asked the driver to wait for him and told him that he would be back in 10 minutes. He went in and sat with his friend, Dr Kapoor and placed his head in his lap and said, “bahut thak Gaya Hun” and he never got up again. Woh subah had not and would never come again for him. Sahir Ludhianvi was dead. Strangely, I didn’t have any money on me on the morning of his funeral, but like I had often borrowed a rupee from my childhood friend, Shantharam, who was a canteen manager in an industrial area, I borrowed a rupee again from him and walked to the Santa Cruz kabrastan to bid my final farewell to Sahir who was buried in a grave where the most common, the poor and the downtrodden are buried entirely like Sahir would have liked to be buried because I don’t think he believed in dreams like Jannat or nightmares like Jahannum.

Today, years after Sahir has gone, what remains of him? His building, ‘Parchhaiyan’ stands like a  dark shadow of the  building he had built. I was once taken to the apartment where he lived with his sister by the filmmaker BR Ishara and his actress-wife Rehana Sultan, who lives in the same building and I was horrified to see the state in which the apartment was. His books and awards were lying on the floor, all rotten and eaten away by rats, rodents and termites. The whole place was stinking, there was no signs of the place experiencing any human touch and before I could explain, oh my God, I could almost see Sahir standing at the entrance, dressed all in white like Guru Dutt as the poet Vijay in “Pyaasa” and singing ‘yeh duniya agar mil Bhi jaaye to kya hai’… ‘Jala do jala do jala do ye duniya’ and his bungalow in Versova has been taken over by sharks who are coming up with a multistoried monstrosity covering the sea. Every morning and evening when I pass that place, I wonder what Sahir would have to say if he saw what they have done to his legacy today.

They have made his name to make a way to make a living in the name of doing him an honour and paying him all kinds of tributes. They are doing plays based on his great love story with the poetess Amrita Pritam. Some time last year, Shekhar Suman and Deepti Naval too talented and out of work actors came together to do a play called ‘ek mulaqat’ with Shekhar playing a very healthy version of Sahir and Deepti giving expression to her own dream of idolizing the Punjabi poetess, Amrita Pritam. They made a lot of money, but what about doing justice to two of the most celebrated and even controversial literary figures of the century? If you ask me, without any bias, the only man who has done justice to Sahir is the late actor, Tom Alter, who everyone called a videshi actor, but who was genuine Indian from Dehradun as who could teach Urdu to some of those who claim to be the ultimate lanterns of knowledge about the language. Last year, there was a vow to make a so-called commercial Hindi film with Irrfan Khan playing Sahir and of all actresses, Kareena Kapoor play Amrita Pritam. Irrfan would have done a great job like he always does in the film which was called “Sahir Ludhianvi”, but now that Irrfan is out because of the big C claiming him at least for now, I wonder which other actor can bring Sahir alive, anyway we don’t  have to bring Sahir Ludhianvi live, because his poetry has made sure that he will stay alive and be alive as long as Urdu poetry and even poetry in the whole world is alive. India must be grateful that it ever had a son and a poet who could write a line like ‘tu Hindu Banega na Musalman Banega Insaan ki aulad Hai Insaan Banega’…

 

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The Last Holi Song And Dance Sequence Yash Chopra Picturised With His Idol, Dilip Kumar

Ali Peter John

The venue was the Rajkamal studios in Parel in Central Bombay, owned by Dr V Shantaram and who had given Yash Chopra a very small part of his studio to have his office as Yash Raj film when he had broken away from his elder brother, BR Chopra and had no place to operate his office from (Yash was one of the two filmmakers who Dr Shantharam had seen great promise in, The other being Govind Nilhani). Yash had shot some sequences of his earlier films at Rajkamal, but for his film “Mashaal”, he built an entire slum like the one in Dharavi across the length and breadth of Rajkamal. The entire film was supposed to be short on this one set, of course for some song sequences with Anil Kapoor and Rati Agnihotri, he had to move outdoors, no, not in his favourite Switzerland or Kashmir, but in an around Bombay which was still to be known as Mumbai.

Yash had to shoot the Holi song entirely on that one set. The song which was written by Javed Akhtar, who had started his new struggle as a writer and lyricist after the grand and controversial split with his partner, Salim Khan and in what looked like a first, Pandit Hridaynath Mangeshkar, the brother of the Mangeshkar sisters had composed all the songs for the film and was ready. Yash had decided to have extensive rehearsals with the cast headed by the man he worshipped Dilip Kumar, Waheeda Rehman, Saeed Jaffrey, Anil Kapoor and Rati Agnihotri….

The day for the shooting of the song dawned and the studio looked as if it was the real Holi day to be celebrated. There was a huge crowd all prepared to participate in the celebration. Yash Chopra was always the first to arrive with some of his seniors and best assistants and without wasting any time got set to take charge of the situation. The other cast, Anil Kapoor, Rati and Saeed Jaffrey arrived before Yash Chopra could lose his temper and spoil the mood which first so very essential for a song like this to be picturised…f

There were constant movement of people who were to be a part of the dances in the song sequence and others who were supposed to be the residents of the area…

At 10:30 a.m., a Mercedes (288) drove into the huge gates of Rajkamal and from it emerged the Shahenshah among Shahenshah, Dilip Kumar, dressed in all-white trousers and a long-sleeved shirt and with spotless white chappals with his trousers stepping way ahead of his ankles (style which was later to be followed by Sanjeev Kumar whenever he came to the sets of a film) and the Shahenshah always carried the piles of files, which were all scripts sent to him for his perusal and 3 or 4 books which he was in different stages of reading. And the one person who was with him in his Mercedes at any time was Narmadabai, his favourite cook, who he took with him wherever he went in the world and kept her in the suite next to his, to make sure that he got all his food, snacks and tea which were only prepared by her. There is an interesting snippet about Narmadabai, she worshipped Dilip Kumar as her master, but she was an unabashed fan of Dev Anand and Dilip Kumar knew about it and in his own inevitable style used to irritate her by calling Dev Anand a ‘langoor’ and she used to stop talking to him for insulting her Dev Sahab.

The shooting of the holi song used to start only a little before lunch time and what was more interesting was the scene at Rajkamal when Dilip Kumar entered. The entire crowd, including Yash, Anil, Rati and Saeed Jaffrey were speechless and did not even try to whisper or smile till Dilip Kumar vanished in his makeup room, but not before he gave all of them a dressing down for treating him like an alien from another planet. He couldn’t do anything about ritual which was going on in the industry for all the years that he was around.

One major highlight of the song was coming together of Dilip Kumar and Waheeda Rehman who had made a wonder team in the sixties when they worked as a romantic lead in films like “Aadmi”,“Dil Diya Dard Diya” and “Ram Aur Shyam”.

The song was not like a pillar as they used to have them and certainly not like an item number in the films we have today. It was a part of the story with every line sung by the character which took the story of the film ahead. Every line defined the characters and their relationships and told their stories in the film. Anil is is a product of the slum who is brought up by his mother, a domestic help who works several hours a day till her hands show signs of withering away, Rati is the only character who is shown as belonging to a well-to-do family, but who has a soft corner for Anil. Dilip Kumar is a fiery journalist who carries out risky one man crusade against corruption, whose face is Amrish Puri. The song is a description of the struggle they are carrying on to fight against the evil designs of Amrish Puri to take over the slums.

Two of the most touching scenes during the song are when Dilip Kumar and Waheeda go into some kind of a flashback and remember the Holi festivals of their youth and when Waheeda sings, “tu hai to meri har Raat Diwali, tu hai to Mera har din Holi”, if I remember right and I was a crazy fan of Javed Akhtar those days and thanked him endlessly for bringing meaning and life even into a routine Holi song. I don’t think he will give me another opportunity to thank him like I thanked him for that song. Another thing, Dilip Kumar and Waheeda were both Muslims, but the way they brought feelings alive in that Holi song, I don’t think any other actors have, could or can do it again. The song took 3 or 4 days to picturise, but the results are still to be seen as it is one of the most representative Holi songs of Hindi films. I have seen it five times before I have come to my working place on some channel or the other and I am sure I will see it many more times as long as this Holi festival lasts.

Yash Chopra took all the work he did very seriously and did it very sincerely and the Holi songs he picturised on Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjeev Kumar, Rekha and Jaya Bachchan in “Silsila”, the song in “Mashaal” and the one with Anupam Kher, Tanvi Azmi, Sunny Deol, Juhi Chawla and the villain, Shahrukh Khan in “Darr” will always be remembered as classics among Holi songs picturised in the past and can also inspire many filmmakers today who still have the sensibility and the sensitivity to picturise a Holi song.

Long live, Yash ji. Holi hai, Holi aayi Hai. Lekin, aap kahan hai?

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Tags: Bollywood, Bollywood News, Bollywood Updates, Television, Telly News,  Yash Chopra, Dilip Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjeev Kumar, Rekha, Jaya Bachchan, Javed Akhtar