From the overrated Chandni and Veer-Zara to the hugely underrated Mashaal and Lamhe, Yash Chopra created a treasury of movies, not necessarily all romantic, though each one of his works embraced a refined language of expression that audiences could be dazzled by and yet empathize with. Here’s celebrating the magic of Yash Chopra
- Dhool Ka Phool (1959)—The first film that Yash Chopra directed was also Indian cinema’s first attempt to tackle the theme of unwed motherhood. In a bold departure from convention the film’s heroine Mala Sinha (superbly dramatic) has pre-marital sex with her boyfriend (Rajendra Kumar) and gives birth to his illegitimate child. Though it was hard to imagine the lead pair as college students even at that age, the film gave a cinematic legitimacy to the theme of illegitimacy.
- Dharmputra (1961)—Powerful, potent and pertinent to this day, the film about communal harmony was Yash Chopra’s boldest ever. It showed the offspring from a Muslim family (Shashi Kapoor) growing up as a rabid communalist in a Hindu family. The communal conflicts were openly and dramatically discussed in the film. Dharmputra caused riots to break out in theatres and had to be quickly withdrawn from screening in many places. But to this day it conveys an abiding resonance.
- Ittefaq (1969)—No songs in a Yash Chopra film?? Nah! That is as unimaginable as no dancing in a Hrithik Roshan starrer. Ittefaq dared the unthinkable. It did away with songs dances and other trappings to focus on the dramatic conflict between an escaped convict and the woman in whose house he seeks asylum. Nanda broke away from her goody-goody image to play a negative role. But it was Rajesh Khanna who got a chance to display his acting chops in a film that pulled no punches.
- Daag (1973)—Yash Chopra’s most intensely romantic film ever released when the director and his leading man had just tied the knot. The film exuded the poetry of love . The rather-melodramatic plot, taken from two novels of Hindi bestseller Gulshan Nanda was filled with improbable twists and turns. But the intensity of the emotions in the love triangle among Rajesh Khanna, Sharmila Tagore and Raakhee was maintained till the end. Sahir Ludhianvi’s lines Mere dil mein aaj kya hai tu kahe to main bataa doon remains the most romantic expression ever in Yash Chopra’s cinema. Yes beating even Kabhi kabhie mere dil mein.
- Kabhi Kabhie (1975)—Everyone fell in love in this gigantic saga of musical chairs and ended up marrying the wrong partners. Sulky silences among mismatched partners (Raakhee who loved Amitabh Bachchan looked mournfully at husband Shashi Kapoor, and the Big B barely exchanged words with his screen-wife Waheeda Rehman) were punctuated by the most gorgeous music and poetry. To rephrase one of the songs Kabhi kabhie mere dil mein khayaal aata hai ke agar Yashji no hote toh kya filmon mein romance hota?
- Deewaar (1975)—During the same year as the intensely romantic Kabhi Kabhie Yash Chopra directed this timeless actioner about two brothers divided by morality but united in their love for their mother (Nirupa Roy). Though the Big B towered above all in this dramatic film the real hero of the proceedings was Salim-Javed’s scripts.
- Trishul (1978)—The mother-figure loomed large over this Salim-Javed screenplay about, and I quote, ‘najayaaz baap ke jaayaz aulaad’ fighting to undo the wrong done to his mother by the man who loved and left her. The script wove a labyrinth of relationships into the principal conflict. The drama remains super-effective to this day.
- Mashaal (1984)—Dilip Kumar screaming and pleading for medical help for his dying wife on the road remains one of the most vivid images from Yash Chopra’s cinema. The film’s ideological battle of the film remains alive even now. Though Mashaal was a failure it raised issues of corruption that are so much in the news today. The relationship between Dilip Saab and Anil Kapoor recently found echoes in the Big B’s relationship with Ajay Devgn in Satyagraha.
- Lamhe (1991)—My favorite Yash Chopra film about a girl who grows up hero-worshipping and loving the man who loved her mother. Sridevi’s fabulous double turn didn’t take away from Anil Kapoor’s subtle mature performance. The film wears its complex relations lightly . It is great fun to watch.
- Darr (1993)—As a guy obsessed with a woman who doesn’t even know him Shah Rukh Khan made evil look sexy. And yes, Juhi Chawla too.