Much before he came to be known as “King of Romance”, Yash Chopra was a man who made suspense thrillers like Ittefaq and perhaps India’s first multi-starrer Waqt. And not to forget Deewar which more than any other movie, consolidated Amitabh Bachchan’s angry young man image.
For a self-professed romantic at heart, Yash Chopra had a pretty good grip on ‘hard edged’ subjects like Deewar and Trishul. Although the main credit of creating “Vijay” in Deewar must go to Salim-Javed, it was Chopra’s no-nonsense direction and small little touches that made Deewar into a cult film. For instance, giving the coolie’s badge with the number “786,” to Amitabh’s Bachchan’s character and how parting with the badge hastens his downfall, or for that matter creating a new kind of heroine. Parveen Babi’s Anita smoked, drank openly and had no qualms about living with her man without marrying him. Till then these roles were reserved for vamps mostly played by Helen or Shashikala.
Very often Prakash Mehra and Manmohan Desai have been credited for creating Amitabh Bachchan, the legend but I would like to think that it was Yash Chopra who gave Amitabh the biggest boost. If Deewar carried forward Vijay from Zanjeer, Kabhie Kabhie, Trishul and Kala Patthar allowed Amitabh to explore different facets of the Angry Young Man Image.
The Eighties saw a spate of some mindless multi-starrers( like The Burning Train, directed by Yash Chopra’s elder brother Baldev Raj) but Yash had already experimented with that genre in Waqt almost 2 decades earlier. Even in Waqt, actor Raj Kumar’s Raja had an ‘angry with the world’ streak that the director used to the best possible effect! So much before he was slotted as a man who brought back “frothy romance” to Indian Cinema, Yash Chopra had an anguished and angry and streak in him too!
Today’s generation might associate Yash Chopra’s films with exotic foreign locales, great music and candy floss romance but his versatality had allowed Yash Chopra to experiment with a song less movie like Ittefaq or a socially relevant subject like Dhool Ka Phool, Dharputra and Mashaal.
In today’s era of instant judgement and instant hits, Yash Chopra is being lionised as a super successful producer director but like every other creative persons he too had setbacks. Vijay, a mish mash of a multi starrer, bombed miserably at the box office. Many have called Lamhe Yash Chopra’s best work but for all his boldness, Chopra did not carry the theme to its logical conclusion!
Yash Chopra’s legacy of making romantic, picture perfect movies shot at exotic locales in Holland and Switzerland will surely be carried forward by his talented son Aditya but I would like to see Aditya make films like Deewar and Trishul rather than just Mohabbatein and Dilwale Dulhaniyan Le Jayenge. That will be the best tribute his son can pay Yash Chopra./