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Bollywood's showman of 2004: Yash Chopra
Priyanka Khanna, IANS Dec 26  [ Sun, Dec 26, 2004 ]

  • New Delhi, Dec 26 (IANS): During 2004, when many in the Hindi film industry learnt the science of filmmaking but forgot the art of entertainment, the one man who continued to hold sway and emerge stronger than ever before was Yash Chopra.

    The 72-year-old longest lasting and most successful Hindi filmmaker gave Bollywood many reasons to rejoice this year including blockbusters like "Dhoom" and "Hum Tum" smashing music records like "Meenaxi: Tale of 3 Cities" and "Maqbool" and "Kal Ho Naa Ho", which were wholly or partly distributed under the Yash Raj Films banner, and ending a remarkable run with cross-border love legend "Veer Zaara".

    Having created a stir at the global box-office and after selling over a million albums, the Shah Rukh Khan-Preity Zinta-Rani Mukherjee-starrer has been selected for screening at the 55th Berlin International Film Festival in the "International Forum of New Cinema" section. Clearly, we have not heard the last word been spoken about this film.

    Yash Chopra and his merchandise have defined mainstream Hindi cinema since the 1950s and his dominance of the trade this year has proved he has much more up his sleeve.

    While the chaotic and unorganised world of Hindi filmdom learnt many new tricks this year with conversation getting peppered with words like corporatisation, packaging and positioning, Yash managed to stay ahead of all others without changing much.

    Beginning with socially conscious, path-breaking films like "Dhool Ka Phool" and "Dharamputra" early in his career, he skipped genres quite effectively to make sophisticated entertainers like "Waqt" and "Aadmi Aur Insaan" in the 1960s and out-and-out romantic musicals like "Chandni", "Lamhe" and "Dil Toh Pagal Hai" in the 1990s.

    Son Aditya helmed the two blockbusters that followed - "Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge" and "Mohabbatein" (a commercially successful though mediocre film). The Yash Raj Films banner, founded in 1973 when Yash Chopra broke away from his brother, the illustrious B. R. Chopra, became synonymous with romance and like it or not, continues till date.

    Chopra is also credited for giving break to a series of aspiring directors.

    Continued on next page...

  • Three of Yash Raj Films' recent productions where directed by fresh talent: Kunal Kohli's "Mujhse Dosti Karoge," Muzaffar Ali's son Shaad Ali's "Saathiya" (the Hindi remake of Mani Rathnam's "Alai Payuthey"), and Sanjay Gadhvi's "Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai".

    A recipient of the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke award, Yash Chopra was honoured with 2004 CineAsia "Lifetime Achievement Award" (a first for any Indian) at a convention in Bangkok, and will most certainly dominate all award ceremonies in the months ahead.

    Newsweek magazine, which proclaims that in Bollywood "sex sells, and saves" would surely hold a different view when it looks at the final year-ending figures.

    Since the mid-1990s, some filmmakers have been getting racier to avoid the fate of 75 percent of Indian movies that lose money. Now, there are signs the margin is becoming the majority.

    So far this year, nearly two thirds of new Indian films have received an "A" rating for adult content. While these so-called sex flicks still stop short of full nudity, they do show just about anything that can be done with clothes on, from kissing on the mouth to simulated copulation.

    Quick bucks are there to be made with titillating films starring starlets who cost less, are bolder and throw less tantrums but they cannot and will not define Bollywood. Says movie producer B. K. Deb, who dropped a project starring Mallika Sherawat: "Sex flicks are a kind of parallel cinema... small-budget productions with low-cost stars. They will always remain off the mainstream."

    The new Indian film formula may well be more bombshells, lower pay and more skin but the old vanguards have not been demolished.

    Take Shah Rukh Khan for instance. With three consequent blockbusters under his belt, he has re-established himself as the most-successful Khan in the industry.