Yash Raj Chopra: Reading between lines

September 27, 1932 - October 21, 2012
Yash Raj Chopra had of both worlds, action movies (1975 Deewar) and romantic movies (1976 Kabhi Kabhie), at the same time. Born in Lahore (now in Pakistan), he was a witness to horrors of partition (reflected in 1961 Dharmaputra) and the growth story (albeit chaotic) that India recorded since.

Deewar portrays what it meant growing in a city that was fast getting divided between ultrarich and impoverished.

Kabhi Kabhie released just one year later in 1976 focuses on the lifestyle of a group of urban people amid hits and misses in love and relationships. The movie propels audience to be liberal. Kabhi Kabhie in that sense appears to be a solution of Yashji for the agony of masses in a system that was at least democratic despite corruption. The same is somewhat true for 1988 Vijay which salutes entrepreneurship.

While economic environment in India improved somewhat only from the 1990s after the adoption of globalization and open economy, it appears at first look that Yashji became somewhat indifferent to day-to-day hardships faced by ordinary Indians in towns and villages ahead of time! Or maybe, that was intentional: one of the purposes of Indian movies during the 1970s and 1980s was to make ordinary people forget their pain by taking them to the world of dream.

Yash Chopra is credited for experimenting with romantic movies, Silsila (1981), Chandni (1989), Dil To Pagal Hai (1997), Veer-Zaara (2004), which indirectly reduced the culture of violence from Bollywood movies. Darr (1993), however, is the brainchild of a creative mind gone fugitive.

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