Yash Chopra

Yash Chopra

Yash Chopra in 2012
Born Yash Chopra
(1932-09-27)27 September 1932
Lahore, Punjab Province, British India[1][2]
Died 21 October 2012(2012-10-21) (aged 80)
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Cause of death Dengue fever
Nationality Indian
Occupation Director & Producer
Years active 1959–2012
Organization Yash Raj Films
Spouse(s) Pamela Yash Chopra
Children Aditya Chopra
Uday Chopra
Awards Padma Bhushan (2005)
English signature of Yash Chopra

Yash Raj Chopra (Punjabi: ਯਸ਼ ਰਾਜ ਚੋਪੜਾ; Hindi: यश राज चोपड़ा) (27 September 1932 – 21 October 2012)[3] was an Indian film director and film producer, predominantly working in Hindi cinema.[4] Yash Chopra began his career as an assistant director to I. S. Johar and elder brother, B.R. Chopra. He made his directorial debut with Dhool Ka Phool in 1959, a melodrama about illegitimacy, and followed it with the social drama Dharmputra (1961).

Encouraged by the success of both films, the Chopra brothers made several more movies together during the late fifties and sixties. Chopra rose to prominence after his commercially and critically successful drama, Waqt (1965), which pioneered the concept of ensemble casts in Bollywood.

In 1971, Chopra founded his own production company, Yash Raj Films, and launched it with Daag: A Poem of Love (1973), a successful melodrama about a polygamous man. The name Yash Raj was formed with names standing for Yash and Rajesh Khanna. His success continued in the seventies, with some of Indian cinema's most successful and iconic films, including the action thriller Deewar (1975), which established Amitabh Bachchan as the leading actor in Bollywood; the romantic drama Kabhie Kabhie (1976) and Trishul (1978).

The period from late seventies to 1989 marked a professional setback in Chopra's career; several films he produced or directed in that period failed to leave a mark at the Indian box office, notably Doosra Aadmi (1977), Kaala Pathar, Silsila (1981), Mashaal (1984), Faasle (1985) and Vijay (1988). In 1989, Chopra directed the commercially and critically successful cult film Chandni, which became instrumental in ending the era of violent films in Bollywood and returning musicals.

Chopra directed and produced the cult classic Lamhe in 1991. Considered by critics and Chopra himself as his best work to date, the film became one of the biggest Bollywood hits in the overseas market, although underperforming at the domestic box office. In 1992 he directed Parampara which was critically panned and was a box office failure. Chopra followed it with the box-office hit and trend setter Darr (1993). Starring Shahrukh Khan, it was a sympathetic look at obsessive love and defied the image of the conventional hero. -Chopra directed three more romantic films, all starring Khan; Dil To Pagal Hai (1997), Veer-Zaara (2004), and Jab Tak Hai Jaan (2012), before he announced his retirement from directing in 2012.

Chopra founded and was chairman of the motion picture production and distribution company Yash Raj Films, which ranks as India's biggest production company as of 2006, as well as Yash Raj Studios. Chopra's career has spanned more than five decades and 50 films; he is considered one of the leading filmmakers in the history of Hindi cinema. He came to be known as the "King of Romance" of the Indian cinema. Chopra has won several film awards, including six National Film Awards and eleven Filmfare awards, including four Filmfare Best Director awards.[5] The Government of India honoured him with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2001 and the Padma Bhushan in 2005[6] for his contributions towards Indian cinema. BAFTA presented him with a lifetime membership for his contribution to films, making him the first Indian to receive the honour.

Early life

B. R. Chopra (sitting left) and Yash Chopra attending audio release of Naya Daur. At the start of his career Yash Chopra worked as an assistant director for his director-producer older brother, Baldev Raj Chopra.[7][8]

Chopra was born on 27 September 1932 in Lahore, British India, into a Punjabi Hindu family.[7] British India (now Pakistan).[9][10] His father was an accountant in the PWD division of the British Punjab administration. He was the youngest of eight children,[11] the oldest of whom was almost 30 years his senior. The eminent film-maker BR Chopra is one of his brothers, and among his sisters is Hiroo Johar, wife of the film maker Yash Johar and mother of Karan Johar.

Chopra was largely brought up in the Lahore house of his second brother, BR Chopra, then a film journalist.[12] Chopra went to Jalandhar in 1945 to continue his education, and studied at Doaba College, Jalandhar.[13] He moved to Ludhiana in Punjab (in India) after the Partition.[8] He originally sought to pursue a career in engineering.[12]

His passion for film-making led him to travel to Bombay (now Mumbai), where he initially worked as an assistant director to I. S. Johar, and then for his director-producer brother, Baldev Raj Chopra.[7][8]

Early career

Chopra received his first directorial opportunity in 1959 with the social drama Dhool Ka Phool,[12] produced by his elder brother B.R. Chopra and starring Mala Sinha, Rajendra Kumar and Leela Chitnis. The film revolved around a Muslim bringing up an 'illegitimate' Hindu child.[7] The film was well received by critics and became the fourth-highest-grossing film of the year. Encouraged by their success, the Chopras made another hard-hitting social drama, Dharmputra (1961).[14] It was one of the first films to depict the Partition of India[12] and Hindu fundamentalism. The film marked the debut of Shashi Kapoor in a fully fledged role and was awarded with the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi. Theatrical screenings of the film were disrupted by violent demonstrations in response to its raw depiction of the partition riots and related sloganeering and hence became a box office flop. Chopra avoided making political films after that.

Chopra's collaboration with his brother continued in the form of the 1965 film Waqt,[7] which featured an ensemble cast including Sunil Dutt, Raaj Kumar, Shashi Kapoor, Sadhana, Balraj Sahni, Madan Puri, Sharmila Tagore, Achala Sachdev and Rehman. The film became a commercial and a critical success. It is acknowledged as a 'found film' of the 'lost and found' genre. Setting many other trends, it was one of Indian cinema's first multi-starrers,[7] a mode which became increasingly popular among the producers during the 1970s. It also began the now obligatory style of depicting wealth and social class. Chopra received his first Filmfare Best Director Award for the film.

In 1969, Chopra directed two movies produced by his brother. The first was Aadmi Aur Insaan,[7] the Chopra film to feature Dharmendra in the lead. It was an average grosser. He directed Ittefaq (1969),[7] a suspense movie based on a Gujarati play, depicting the events of a single night, with Rajesh Khanna in the lead role. Shot in a month and on a low budget, the film was deemed unusual by critics. It one of the first Hindi films which did not have any songs or an interval. It was eventually declared a semi-hit[15] at the box office and won Chopra another Filmfare award for best director.

Formation of Yash Raj Films

Amitabh Bachchan (left) and Yash Chopra in the premiere of Paa Chopra made a number of classic cult films starring Amitabh Bachchan.[7] Chopra's Deewar gave Amitabh Bachchan the tag "Angry Young Man".[16]

In 1971, Chopra founded the independent Yash Raj Films, terminating his creative collaboration with his brother.[5][12] He named it Yash Raj indicating Yash and Rajesh Khanna. His first independently produced film, Daag: A Poem of Love (1973),[17] a melodrama about a man with two wives, with Rajesh Khanna in the lead role, was a great success.

He directed a number of classic cult films starring Amitabh Bachchan and scripted by Salim-Javed, notably Deewaar and Trishul, which were great hits and remain popular even today.[16] These films set the trend for the late 70s and 80s, establishing Bachchan as the angry young man. Chopra won another Filmfare Best Director Award for Deewaar. Chopra produced, directed and scripted two more films starring Bachchan. Unlike his earlier action-oriented films, these two were romantic dramas: Kabhi Kabhie (1976)[5][7] followed by Silsila (1981).[5] Yash Chopra suggestedJaved Akhtar to become a lyricist, starting from this film.[18]

The eighties marked a professional setback in Chopra's career, as several films he directed and produced in that period failed to leave a mark at the Indian box office. His film Mashaal (1984) was his first collaboration with the legendary actor, Dilip Kumar. The action-oriented film, which was based on the well-known Marathi play titled Ashroonchi Zhali Phule, won critical acclaim but fared only average at the box-office. A year later, he made Faasle. The romantic drama starring Sunil Dutt, Rekha, and Rohan Kapoor was a critical and commercial failure.[8] He and critics consider it his worst film. Vijay (1988)[7] was also a box office failure.[8] The film received mixed reviews from critics and was dubbed a remake of Trishul.

Chopra's lean phase ended in 1989 with the highly successful cult classic Chandni,[7] a film with all the hallmarks of what has come to be known as the "Yash Chopra style": heroine-oriented, romantic, emotional, depicting the lifestyle of the super elite, with melodic music used in songs picturised in foreign locations. It marked the first collaboration between the filmmaker and the established heroine, Sridevi. The huge success of its music was instrumental in ending the era of violence in Bollywood films and bringing back music into Hindi films. It also reaffirmed Sridevi's position as the top female star of the Eighties. Though it was not the first time Chopra shot a film in Switzerland, the extensive scenes shot there made it a popular tourist destination for Indians. The film won the National Film Award for Best Popular Film of that year.[19]

He followed it with Lamhe (1991),[7] starring frequent collaborators Anil Kapoor and Sridevi. The film was critically acclaimed, had exceptional music, and was one of the biggest Bollywood hits in the overseas market. But it was not a box-office success in India. The film won five Filmfare awards, including the Filmfare Award for Best Movie. Over the years the film has been hailed as a cult classic; it is regarded as a modern masterpiece and possibly his finest film to date. It was featured in Outlook magazine's list of All-Time Great Indian films.[20] It has been cited by Chopra as his personal favourite of his films.[18] In 1992, Chopra directed Parampara. Despite an all-star cast of Ramya Krishnan, Aamir Khan, Raveena Tandon, Sunil Dutt, Anupam Kher, Vinod Khanna, Ashwini Bhave and Saif Ali Khan (In his film debut), the film was a commercial flop and was panned by critics for its weak storyline, music and direction.


Yash Chopra and Shahrukh Khan (left). Chopra was responsible for shaping Khan's career.[5]

In 1993, Yash Chopra directed the newcomer Shah Rukh Khan along with Juhi Chawla and Sunny Deol in the musical thriller Darr.[5][7] The movie was the story of an obsessed lover (Khan) and the lengths to which he goes to get the girl (Chawla) who is already happily engaged to another man (Deol). The film was a runaway success and is considered a cult classic today. It also established Khan as a bankable star. Six years later, Chopra then directed, produced and co-wrote the highly successful 1997 romantic musical Dil To Pagal Hai,[7] starring yet again Shahrukh Khan in a love triangle with Madhuri Dixit and Karisma Kapoor. It was the first Bollywood movie to be shot in Germany. The film became the second highest grosser for the year. It won many awards, including seven Filmfare Awards and three National Awards, notably for Best Film, providing popular and wholesome entertainment yet again. Chopra then took a sabbatical from directing and focused solely on producing films for over eight years.

In 2004, he returned to direction with the love saga Veer-Zaara.[7] Starring Shahrukh Khan again, Preity Zinta and Rani Mukerji in the leading roles, the film was the biggest hit of 2004 in both India and overseas, with a worldwide gross of over 940 million and was screened at the Berlin Film Festival to critical appreciation. The film which narrated the love story of an Indian air-force officer Veer Pratap Singh (Khan) and a Pakistani woman, Zaara Haayat Khan (Zinta) was appreciated by critics. Rama Sharma from The Tribune write, "Giving love its due, Yash Chopra has understandably linked the script to the life of a common man. The pace is exacting. Drawing from the best of the two countries, the story is made more colourful by a spray of the Punjabi culture— be it celebrating Lohri in India or visiting a Dargah in Pakistan. He has handled the script cleverly. Whenever the pace begins to slacken, he introduces a new character and a twist."

In September 2012, in a special interview with actor Shahrukh Khan on the occasion of his eightieth birthday, Chopra announced that Jab Tak Hai Jaan (2012)[7] would be his last directorial venture and that he would opt to focus on his production company and his personal life. For the shoot of the last remaining song in Jab Tak Hai Jaan, director Yash Chopra wanted to shoot a scene of a sari-clad Katrina Kaif romancing Shah Rukh Khan in the lush meadows of the Swiss Alps. But his illness, caused by a bout of dengue, stymied the plan for the song, which would have reflected his trademark directorial style. Chopra's trip to Switzerland with Shahrukh and Katrina had to be cancelled after his death.

Yash Raj Films (YRF) is the most dominant production company in Hindi filmmaking. Yash Raj Chopra has continuously featured in the top five hit Indian movies of the year since 2000. The Indian film director and producer used a range of directors. He repetitively used the star power of Bollywood’s most popular actors, Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan.

Yash Raj Films is a highlight of India’s post-colonial identity. It has grown to be the forefront of the global rise of Bollywood cinema. Yash Raj Films have expanded their company from locally based Hindi films to global achievements. They have managed to attract home based and diasporic Indians. Yash Raj Films have used a smart technique by incorporating foreign locations as a site which succeeded.

Frequent collaborations

Chopra was known to often cast the same actors in his films, his most famous collaborations being with Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor, Raakhee and more recently Shahrukh Khan.

Personal life

In 1970, Chopra married Pamela Singh and together they have two sons Aditya Chopra and Uday Chopra,[7] born in 1971 and 1973, respectively. Aditya is also a film director and producer and held the position of vice-chairman and general manager of Yash Raj Films while Uday is an assistant director turned actor who made his acting debut in 2000 in his brother's film, Mohabbatein.[21]


Yash Chopra died of Dengue Fever on 21 October 2012.




No Movie Name Year of Release Main Cast
1 Dhool Ka Phool 1959 Mala Sinha, Rajendra Kumar, Nanda, Ashok Kumar
2 Dharmputra 1961 Mala Sinha, Shashi Kapoor, Ashok Kumar
3 Waqt 1965 Balraj Sahni, Achala Sachdev, Sunil Dutt, Sadhana Shivdasani, Raaj Kumar, Shashi Kapoor, Sharmila Tagore
4 Aadmi Aur Insaan 1969 Dharmendra, Saira Banu, Feroze Khan, Mumtaz
5 Ittefaq 1969 Rajesh Khanna, Nanda, Bindu
6 Daag 1973 Sharmila Tagore, Rajesh Khanna, Raakhee
7 Joshila 1973 Dev Anand, Raakhee, Hema Malini
8 Deewaar 1975 Amitabh Bachchan,Shashi Kapoor, Neetu Singh, Parveen Babi
9 Kabhi Kabhie 1976 Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor, Waheeda Rehman, Raakhee, Rishi Kapoor, Neetu Singh
10 Trishul 1978 Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjeev Kumar, Shashi Kapoor, Hema Malini, Raakhee, Waheeda Rehman, Poonam Dhillon, Sachin.
11 Kaala Patthar 1979 Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor, Shatrughan Sinha, Raakhee, Neetu Singh, Parveen Babi, Poonam Dhillon.
12 Silsila 1981 Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor, Jaya Bachchan, Sanjeev Kumar, Rekha
13 Mashaal 1984 Dilip Kumar, Anil Kapoor, Waheeda Rehman, Rati Agnihotri
14 Faasle 1985 Sunil Dutt, Rekha, Farooq Sheikh, Deepti Naval, Rohan Kapoor
15 Vijay 1988 Rajesh Khanna, Hema Malini, Rishi Kapoor, Anil Kapoor, Meenakshi Sheshadri
16 Chandni 1989 Sridevi, Rishi Kapoor, Vinod Khanna
17 Lamhe 1991 Sridevi, Anil Kapoor, Waheeda Rehman
18 Parampara 1992 Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Sunil Dutt, Vinod Khanna, Ashwini Bhave
19 Darr 1993 Sunny Deol, Shah Rukh Khan, Juhi Chawla
20 Dil To Pagal Hai 1997 Shah Rukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit, Karishma Kapoor, Akshay Kumar
21 Veer-Zaara 2004 Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta, Rani Mukherji, Manoj Bajpai
22 Jab Tak Hai Jaan 2012 Shah Rukh Khan, Katrina Kaif, Anushka Sharma


Chopra with his wife Pamela. Yash Chopra is being honoured with the title of Ambassador of Interlaken (2011).[22][23]
Year Award Category Film
1961 National Film Awards Best Feature Film in Hindi Dharamputra
1989 Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment Chandni
1993 Darr
1995 Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge
1997 Dil To Pagal Hai
2004 Veer Zaara
2008 Chak De India
1966 Filmfare Awards Best Director Waqt
1970 Ittefaq
1974 Daag
1976 Deewaar
1992 Best Film Lamhe
1996 Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge
1998 Dil To Pagal Hai
2005 Veer Zaara
2006 Power Award Special Award
2013 Lifetime Achievement Award All of his film
2002 IIFA Awards Outstanding Contribution to Indian Cinema
2005 Best Picture Veer Zaara
Best Director
2008 Best Picture Chak De India
2013 IIFA 2013 Macau is Dedicated to Mr. Yash Chopra Special Award
1998 Zee Cine Awards Best Film Dil To Pagal Hai
2005 Veer Zaara
Best Director Veer Zaara
2008 Best Film Chak De India
1996 Screen Awards Best Film Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge
2005 Veer Zaara
2008 Chak De India
2013 Lifetime Achievement Award All of his film
2005 Bollywood Movie Awards Best Film Veer Zaara
Best Director

Honours and recognitions

Honorary Doctorate degrees


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