Pahlaj Nihalani : Living in glass houses and throwing stones at others

Pahlaj Nihalani, the censor board chief, has aspirations of becoming the conscience keeper of the nation. The former film producer has issued a list of Hindi and English cuss
words that will be banned from films.
Earlier this year Nihalani had told
The Times of India that “there is too much nudity on television and internet and it should be controlled,” going beyond his brief as the censor chief. He had followed this with an interview to The Hindu in late January where he had said that he did not “mind being called conservative” if it was “in national interest”. “The censor board is very liberal. But what is the modern generation watching? We are giving them the license to see anything. How is this projecting our culture?” Nihalani had added in the interview.
The irony is that all this comes from a man who gave Hindi cinema some of its crassest songs. Nihalani produced a film called
Andaz in 1994, which was directed by David Dhawan. The movie had songs with lines like khada hai khada hai khada hai, roz karenge hum ku ku and main maal gaadi tu dhakka laga (later changed to ye maal gaadi tu dhakka laga). Any one who understands a little bit of Hindi will know what exactly these songs are trying to suggest. They clearly were not in national interest.
Andaz, Nihalani had produced Aankhen which released in 1992. This movie had a song with the line “khet gayil baba bazaar gayil ma, akeli hu ghar ma tu aaja balma”. The song starts with the heroine Shilpa Shirodkar lifting her ghagra to reveal her thigh. It is followed by the heroine and a string of women extras gyrating their chests and doing other suggestive movements.
Aankhen also had another superhit song called O Lal Dupatte Waali Tera Naam to Bata. This song had the heroes Govinda and Chunky Pandey chasing the heroines Ritu Shivpuri and Raageshwari. Somewhere midway through the song the heroines sing the line “har ajnabi ke liye ye khidki nahi khulti” and in a very suggestive way slightly raise the hemline of their white mini skirts. This clearly wasn’t a good projection of Indian culture that Nihalani now seems to be so passionate about now. Nihalani might defend himself by saying that these songs were a part of a phase in Hindi cinema where double meaning songs ruled. Subhash Ghai’s Khalnayak had the superhit choli ke peeche kya hai. Sawan Kumar Tak’s Khalnayika went a step further and had a song called choli ke andar kya hai. Prakash Mehra’s Dalal had chadh gaya upar re aatariya par lautan kabootar re. So, Nihalani in a sense was doing what everyone else was doing during that era.
But all these years later he has changed, he might tell us. As a line attributed to the British economist John Maynard Keynes goes: “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”
Nihalani might have changed his mind but he needs to do a few things to change the facts, so that we can believe him. He should re-censor the films he produced and drop the songs which go against Indian culture and national interest, to start with. Further, in this era of remakes, if he ever chooses to remake or sell the rights of his biggest hit
Aankhen, he should insist that the remake won’t have the khet gayil baba bazar gayil ma song. This should set an excellent precedent. Nihalani would be then putting his money where his mouth is.
Until he does that, it is worth remembering a dialogue written by Akhtar-Ul-Iman and spoken by Raj Kumar in the 1965 superhit
Waqt, which goes like this: “Chinoi Seth…jinke apne ghar sheeshe ke hon, wo dusron par pathar nahi feka karte(Chinoi Seth…those who live in glass houses don’t throw stones at others).” Nihalani, being a film producer, would have hopefully heard of this.

(Vivek Kaul is the author of the Easy Money trilogy. He can be reached at [email protected])
The column originally appeared in the Daily News and Analysis(DNA) on Feb 17, 2015 

From Junglee to Ye Jawaani Hai Deewani: The revenge of Himachal on Kashmir

Vivek Kaul  
The Kashmir valley was an integral part of Hindi films through the sixties, seventies and most the eighties. Kashmir and the escapist stuff that the industry specialised in went well together.
The hero and the heroine romancing in the beautiful Mughal Gardens, Nishat or Shalimar, on the outskirts of Srinagar. Or walking through knee deep snow in Gulmarg. Or the heroine filling her 
matki (an earthen pot) with water from the Lidder river in Pahalgam. Or the most common shot of the film’s lead couple enjoying a ride in a shikara on the Dal lake. All this looked fantastic on the big screen. And thus shooting in the valley became an integral part of Hindi films.
There were three major factors that brought the Hindi film industry to Kashmir. More and more Hindi films started to be shot in colour in the early 1960s. This coincided with more Hindi films being shot outside the claustrophobic film studious of what then used to be Bombay (now Mumbai). This meant that producers and directors went looking for locations that would look good on the big screen. And Kashmir fit in perfectly.
The final push came in the form of Shammi Kapoor and his first colour film 
Junglee. Shot majorly in the Kashmir valley, this was the movie that ‘really brought’ Hindi film producers and directors to the valley. Many of Kapoor’s successful films were shot in the valley. This included Kashmir ki Kali, Andaaz, Janwar etc. The story goes that at his peak Kapoor in the mid 60s, Kapoor used to spend seven months of the year shooting in the valley.
After Kapoor, director Yash Chopra continued the trend of shooting in Kashmir with 
Kabhie Kabhie and Silsila. In fact, Kabhie Kabhie was essentially Chopra’s tribute to Kashmir. And the valley has not been captured so beautifully by anyone else till date.
The love affair between the Hindi film industry and the Kashmir valley continued through much of the 1970s and the early 1980s. Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Bemisal which released in 1982, 
starring Amitabh Bachchan, Vinod Mehra and Raakhee, even had a song on the Kashmir valley : “Kitni khoobsurat ye tasveer hai…ye kashmir hai.
The eighties dulled the love affair, as first the Hindi film industry discovered Switzerland and then terrorism made gradual inroads into the valley. Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s 
Khamosh which released in 1985, was one of the last films to be shot in the valley. The movie was a murder mystery set in and around the hill station of Pahalgam, and ironically enough did not have any songs, showcasing the beauty of the valley.
Through much of the 1990s and 2000s, Kashmir remained inaccessible to the Hindi film industry as terrorism took over the valley. But terrorism in Kashmir was too juicy a plot point to ignore, and thus became a part of the storyline of several Hindi films. The only trouble was that shooting in the valley was impossible. This trend was started by Mani Ratnam’s 
Roja which was made in Tamil and later dubbed into Hindi.
So various places, depending on the budget of the producer were passed off as Kashmir. If the budget was good enough, Switzerland could be passed off as Kashmir, if it wasn’t even Lonavala (a hill station close to Mumbai) would do. The only big budget movie which was shot in the valley during the years when terrorism was at its peak was Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s 
Mission Kashmir which released in 2000. The Aamir Khan starrer Fanaa, which released in 2006, had a storyline set around a Kashmiri terrorist, but almost all of what was passed off as Kashmir was shot in the Tatra Mountains in Southern Poland.
In the last ten years, a few Hindi films have been shot in the valley. There has been odd movie like 
Yahaan, a story of an army officer falling in love with the sister of a terrorist, which was shot almost end to end in the Kashmir. There was also Santosh Sivan’s beautifully shot low budget movie Tahaan which released in 2008. Sikander and Lamha were other low budget movies that were shot in the valley. And so was a small portion of Vishal Bhardwaj’s 7 Khoon Maaf. 
Last week’s release 
Ye Jawaani Hai Deewani has been among the few big budget movies to have been shot in the Kashmir valley in years (The other movie that comes immediately to my mind is Yash Chopra’s swansong Jab Tak Hai Jaan.Imitiaz Ali’s Higway is also being shot in the valley, as was a part of his previous release Rockstar). And the first half of the film has some of the most breathtaking scenery that you will ever see in a Hindi film. The irony though is that the storyline of the movie passes off what is Gulmarg in Kashmir as Manali in Himachal Pradesh. While the hill stations of Himachal Pradesh are very beautiful, nothing comes close to Gulmarg after it has snowed. Its breathtakingly beautiful and totally out of this world.
This so called ‘artistic license’ has not gone down well with Omar Abdullah, the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir. As he tweeted “It’s irritating when we roll out the red carpet & facilitate the shoot only to have people believe its Manali.”
I saw the movie in a Delhi multiplex on Friday afternoon (May 31, 2013). As the young women and aunties around me went ‘
Awww‘ and ‘How Cute‘, everytime Ranbir Kapoor appeared on screen, the question I asked myself was why would anyone want to pass of Kashmir valley as Himachal Pradesh?
This keeping the background in mind that for the last two decades the Hindi film industry has had no access to the Kashmir valley. During this period it has passed off different parts of the world as Kashmir. And now that it can shoot in the valley, it has passed it off as Himachal. Also, Himachal Pradesh has never been able to replace Kashmir in Hindi films.
So why do that? The movie provides the answer as well. At the end of the trekking trip, the two lead pairs of the movie (Ranbir Kapoor-Deepika Padukone, Aditya Roy Kapoor -Kalki Koechlin) have a lot of 
bhaang on the occasion of the Holi festival, and dance non-stop to the song balam pichkari jo tune hai maari.
Now Hindi films aren’t meant to be logical. But having the hero-heroine of the movie sing a Holi song after downing bhaang, on the foothills of Gulmarg in Kashmir, a terrorism infested state, would have been totally illogical. And that to me seems be the only reason why Kashmir has been passed off as Himachal Pradesh. This despite the fact that Jai Jai Shiv Shankaranother famous Holi song from the 1974 movie Aap ki Kasam was shot in Gulmarg. But then those were the days when Kashmir was peaceful.
So its but natural that Omar Abdullah is peeved. But he can take solace in the fact from another artistic license that was taken more than 50 years back in 1961. Shammi Kapoor’s most famous song 
Yahoo-Chahe Koi Mujhe Junglee Kahe was shot in Kufree, in Himachal Pradesh. Though the rest of the storyline of the movie (Junglee) was set in Kashmir. The song was originally supposed to be shot in Gulmarg, but the hill station did not have enough snow that year, forcing the makers of the movie to look for snow somewhere else. For years people have thought that the song has been shot in Kashmir.
So in a way 
Ye Jawaani Hai Deewani passing off Kashmir as Himachal, is Himachal’s revenge on Kashmir, though more than fifty years late. Interestingly, Junglee had Shammi Kapoor in the lead role and was directed by Subodh Mukherjee. Shammi Kapoor was the granduncle(i.e. Paternal grandfather’s brother) of Ranbir Kapoor, who stars in Ye Jawaani Hai Deewani. And Subodh Mukherjee was the granduncle of Ayan Mukherjee who has directed Ye Jawaani Hai Deewani.

The article originally appeared on on June 11, 2013.
(Vivek Kaul is a writer. He tweets @kaul_vivek)

Dear Kamal Haasan: Here’s how to make a 100% ban-proof film

mashallah-song-ek-tha-tigerAs imagined by Vivek Kaul
I am a closet film script writer.
The one thing I really want to do is a write masala film script which is different. Recently I ran into a film maker friend of mine and since he was in the mood to listen, I told him my story.
Acha hai,” he said, down two drinks of whisky.
“I am glad you liked it so much,” I replied, hoping that he would take it on and choose to direct it.
Par thoda change karna padega!”
I asked.
“We will have to change the religion of the villain.”
“Yes. We will have to make him a Parsi.”
“Oh why?” I asked, not having heard of a bawa villain in Hindi cinema for a very long time.
“Well. One they are too small in number and most of them barely watch Hindi cinema.”
“So?” I asked.
“So, some of there so called leaders won’t bother to protest that we have a shown a Parsi character in negative light.”
“I don’t get it.”
“And even if they do, their protests will fall on deaf ears because there are only around 70,000 of them. So they are not a vote bank.”
“Oh. But when was the last time you heard of a Parsi terrorist?” I asked rather humbly trying to drive home what I thought was an important point.
Arre yaar Vivek! It doesn’t matter. This is Hindi cinema. The absurd will just become absurder,” he said. “Chal, let me order a drink. Tu tamatar soup theek se pee!
Whatever you think is right,”I replied.
“Also, that side character of a cobbler. We will have to change that a little as well.”
“Hmmm!” I replied, wondering if my series of compromises had just started?
“We can’t call him a Raju mochi as you do in the script,” he explained patiently.
“But why?” I asked. “What do you call a mochi if not a mochi?”
Using the word mochi is insulting. You cannot call a cobbler a mochi. He needs to be called a charmakar. Accordingly you should call your character Raju Charmakar.”
But why? He is not a cobbler. He is just a spy pretending to be a cobbler,” I persisted.
Arre, you don’t remember. A few years back a movie called Aaja Nachle had a line in a song which went like this “Bazaar Mein Machi Hai Mara Maar, Bole Mochi Bhi Khud Ko Sunar.””
“So there were protests and they had to remove that word. And I don’t want my film to be stopped because of one word!”
The words “my film” were music to my ears. “As you say boss!” I agreed.
“Also, the side hero seems to be wearing saffron colour throughout the movie.”
“Yes. That’s how his character is na. It is a political thriller after all. I had to build in characters from across the spectrum.”
Wo to theek hai. But I don’t like too much saffron on the screen. You know my movies have a red theme. So lets make him wear red. We will also give him a song with a lot of red in it. I have a nice set in mind. Karjat main set banayenge.
Arre, that will change the entire meaning. How can red replace saffron?” I asked him, totally perplexed.
“Well if Vishal Bhardwaj’s bhains can be a pink gulabo instead of a red laali, I am sure the side hero can wear red instead of saffron. Samjha karo. It can have a big impact in the biggest territory.”
“As you wish,” I replied totally giving in to his demands.
And lets put in a song by Yo Yo Honey Singh,” he further suggested.
And I sunk into my chair.
Thoda daaru shaaru, weed-sheed, kudiyon shudiyon ke baare main gayega. And that will ensure that the movie will go housefull in the Delhi, Western UP and Punjab territory,” he continued.
“But what if it gets banned because of his song? Also the women have been rallying against him,” I asked.
Na na. The protesting women were the few dainted painted types.We will ensure that he doesn’t go to the same extent like he often does. Kuch hulka phulka, you know what I mean.”
“Hmmm,” I just nodded.
Aur yaar. Your heroine is too dry.”
“Yes. She is from a small town. But she is a total deshbhakt. That is why she helps the hero in his mission against the terrorists.”
Wo to theek hai. But lets spice her up!”
“As in?”
Arre thoda item number-wumber daalo!
“But she is a humble small town girl? It doesn’t sound right!” I pleaded.
“Let’s put in a dream sequence yaar.”
Dream sequence?”
“Yes. You know what I have a brilliant idea. We will also shoot the heroine under a waterfall. The same one where Raj ji shot Mandakini in Ram Teri Ganga Maili.”
Yeah. Your script says she is a village girl na.”
Small town girl,” I clarified.
Arre ek hi baat hai. And while she is bathing under the waterfall, the hero will see her for the first time. Wo scene poore single screen theatres ko loot lega!”
But who will do the heroine’s role? Katrina?”
She will be too expensive. Utne main to hero aa jayega. Arre we will take a new girl. She won’t have any inhibitions about shedding clothes if the scene demands so.”
“You think very differently,” I replied.
“Right now it is important to ensure that the film does not get banned. And no film ever gets banned because of its heroine! So heroine koi bhi ho sakti hai!” 
What about the lead role?” I asked. “Let’s take Shah Rukh.”
Na na. Bolta bahut hai wo! Ab to likhne bhi laga hai.
He might say something reasonably intelligent before the film’s release and there will be a huge controversy aur film dabbe main pad jayegi.”
But wouldn’t that be good publicity for the movie? I mean, My Name is Khan got a lot of publicity that way.”
Yes it did. But I don’t want to take that risk.”
So? Lets take Aamir then?”
Na na he is too much of an activist and intellectual type. And if you remember Gujarat had banned his movie Fanaa. Gujarat territory main Aamir risky hai.”
Let’s take Salman,” he replied confidently.
He barely speaks and when he does it sounds like Italian,” he replied. “So Rs 150 crore guaranteed.”
I had nothing to say. Money talks loudest.
The article originally appeared on on January 31, 2013

(Vivek Kaul is a writer. He can be reached at
[email protected]

A Himesh Reshamiya fan comes out of the closet

Vivek Kaul 
It’s one am in the morning. And I have had the same song playing on loop on my laptop for the last three hours. It’s been written, composed and sung by Himesh Reshamiya.
The song is Tera Pyar Pyar Pyar Hookah Bar from the Akshay Kumar starrer Khiladi 786. There is something very infectious about the song. I can’t really figure out why I am hooked onto it. I guess in this day and age of complex multilayered songs this is a simple tune which one can hum.
With the music of Khiladi 786 Reshamiya is well and truly back. The album has the music director who for a brief period became more famous for his hair weaving, crooning songs in his famous (or should we say infamous) nasal twang.
If you thought Aashiq Banaya Aapne was too much then try listening to Lonely Lonely Tere Bin and you might find yourself shouting O Banwariya by the end of it. The song has Yo Yo Honey Singh rapping along with Reshamiya.
For those who are the old fashioned kind and prefer people singing through their mouth and not through their nose will appreciate Saari Saari Raat Soye Na Hum. Okay, I have to admit that there is a slight nasal twang in Himesh’s voice even in this song. But then the nasal twang is to Himesh what yoddling was to Kishore Kumar.
Himesh Reshamiya burst onto the scene as a singer with the big hit Aashiq Banaya Aapne. The nasal twang in his voice reminded me of the Pakistani singer Hasan Jehangir who sang the hit song Hawa Hawain the late 1980s (The video of the song that I have uploaded is from this movie called Don 2 and try spotting the rather dilapidated Shah Rukh Khan’s Mannat in the background).
Hawa Hawa achieved cult status and rose to as high as the second position on the Cibaca Sangeet Mala (or was it Cibaca Geet Mala, I really don’t remember). Back then it was the only countdown show and used to be on air every Monday at eight o’ clock on Vividh Bharti (It had moved from Radio Ceylon by then). Years later I was devastated to know that the song was not an original had been copied from the song Havar Havarsung by the Iranian singer Kourosh Yaghmaei.
Okay, Okay, I am deviating, but that’s the trouble with writing on movies and music. So we were talking about Reshamiya and I thought his voice had a nasal twang which was similar to that of Hasan Jehangir but the twang was much more pronounced in this case
And I also thought that like Jehangir before him he would be a one song wonder. But I, like a lot of others, was hopelessly wrong on this one. He belted out one hit after another as a singer as well as a music director.  The irony of course was that even though everyone was listening to his songs no one would admit to the same. I realised this on a random day in Ranchi while visiting my parents in 2007 and humming a song called Jummeratfrom Phir Hera Pheri all day long.
But I wasn’t supposed to like Himesh Bhai. Okay, I told myself, this is a temporary phenomenon, I will soon get over it. But the fact of the matter was I liked what I heard.
It was fashionable to listen to non hummable songs of A R Rahman but Himesh’s music was for the auto-rickshaw drivers. As a columnist in the Daily News and Analysis asked in July 2007 “Only autowallahs and taxi-drivers listen to his kind of music,” I was told. “We who sit in the passenger seat don’t.” Oh! This raised more fundamental questions in my mind. So, apparently, when Himess(Himesh Reshamiya i.e.) became the first Indian to perform at the Wembley, all of India’s auto, taxi and truck drivers must have flown to London to attend his concert? Or perhaps it was attended only by London’s taxi-drivers?”
“And what about the savvy lot who run our FM channels? They all know that their target audience is the young, cool, hip, urban, intelligent, upwardly mobile (or Ipod/Iphone),” the column went onto ask.
In between all this Reshamiya decided to become a hero. And at the same time decided to give music only in those movies in which he starred.
His first film as a hero was Aap Ka Suroor. The nasal twang of Reshamiya reached monstrous proportions with the song O Huzoor – Tera Tera Tera Suroor. Other than having ten songs sung by Reshamiya it also had the for the very first time in the history of Hindi cinema the hero wearing a baseball cap throughout the movie.
The next one was Karzzz. But even all the extra zzz’s and Reshamiya without the baseball cap could not save the movie at the box office. Ironically this was a remake of the earlier Karz made by Subhash Ghai. Ghai had ripped off the movie from  The Reincarnation of Peter Proud and still got paid Rs 3 crore for the remake rights. Talk about having your cake and eating it too.
Himesh Reshamiya’s next film as a hero was Radio. The film had some fantastic music and I personally feel its Reshamiya’s best album till date. It includes a personal favourite Daamad Ji Angna Main Padharewhich Reshamiya has sung along with Kailash Kher. His next film Kajraare directed by the former actress Pooja Bhatt saw a fairly limited release.
And Himesh’s acting career was more or less over after this. But Reshamiya was only trying to do what a lot of other famous singers have done in the past i.e. become a hero. Mukesh stopped singing for a while in the early 50s when he wanted to become a hero and decided to sing only for himself. The dashing Talat Mehmood went through the same phase of wanting to become a hero and soon other singers were singing for superstar Dilip Kumar.
In the early 70s Shailendra Singh was Rishi Kapoor’s voice in Bobby. But he had acting aspirations as well and became neither a famous singer nor a famous actor. In the recent years Sonu Nigam has fallen into the same trap and is no longer the top male playback singer.
There are very few singers making it big as actors. One of course is the great Kishore Kumar. But his best songs came after he had more or less quit acting. The only true singing superstar that Hindi cinema has ever had is Kundan Lal Saigal who drunk himself to death at a young age of 43 because he had this thing in his head that he sang better when he was drunk. By the time he realised this mistake it was too late (Dr Rajkumar, the kannada superstar, sang a lot of his own songs. He also sang bhajans).
The moral of the story for Himesh bhai is that he should stick to what he knows best and i.e. giving music and belting out superhit songs with a nasal twang.
In the meanwhile I am waiting for his next nasal song and am also ready for the hate mail. Bring it on, women!
The article originally appeared on on November 20,2012.
Vivek Kaul is a writer. He can be reached at [email protected]

Yash Chopra was much more than just the king of romance

Vivek Kaul
Yash Chopra launched his banner Yash Raj films in 1973. The second film produced under the banner was Kabhie Kabhie. It released in 1976 and had Amitabh Bachchan playing the role of a sensitive poet named Amit Malhotra. All the fantastic poetry that Amit recites in the movie was written by the poet Sahir Ludhianvi.
One of the couplets goes like this:
Kal koi mujhko yaad kare,
kyon koi mujhko yaad kare,
masroof zamana mere liye,
kyon waqt apna barbad kare. 

main pal do pal ka shayar hoon…
(yaad = remember. masroof = busy. pal = moment. shayar = poet).
The above lines were the thoughts of a poet who deeply felt that when he was gone, the world would forget him and move onto other things. And he was right. The world at large is too busy to bother about someone who is no longer there. Nobody remembers Sahir anymore. But there are always exceptions that prove the rule. Yash Raj Chopra is that exception.
His death has led to a tremendous outpouring of grief and sorrow from India at large and the Hindi film industry in particular. Very few film directors in the Hindi film industry have lasted as long as Yash Chopra did. His first film as a director Dhool Ka Phool was released in 1959. His latest film Jab Tak Hai Jaan is scheduled to release on November 13, later this year. During this period he worked with the biggest superstars of Hindi cinema from Dilip Kumar to Rajesh Khanna to Amitabh Bachchan to Shah Rukh Khan.
Chopra was often referred to as the King of Romance given his penchant for shooting in beautiful locations (particularly in Kashmir earlier and later Switzerland) with his heroines looking extraordinarily beautiful in their red and white chiffon sarees and singing and dancing to some brilliant lyrics set to fantastic music.
And this sobriquet of the King of Romance has stuck to Chopra even in his death. A random search on Google on his death throws up the following headlines:
Yash Chopra: King of Romance leaves void in Bollywood
King of Romance: Yash Chopra dies at 80
King of Romance: Yash Chopra no more
Yash Chopra, Bollywood’s King of Romance passes away
An important part of justifying the tag of being the King of Romance lay in making his heroines look beautiful on screen especially when they were singing songs. Raakhe has never looked as beautiful as she did when she was singing Kabhie Kabhi Mere Dil Main Khayal Aata Hai in the movie Kabhie Kabhie. Rekha was at her sexiest in the random shots that make the song Ye Kahan Aa Gaye Hum Yun Hi Saath Saath Chalte in Silsila. Sridevi outshone even Switzerland in Chandni. 
Juhi Chawla in the rain dance in Darr made millions of hearts go K K K K Kiran…. Both Madhuri Dixit and Karishma Kapoor danced their hearts out in Dil To Pagal Hai. And Preity Zinta and her dimples last saw success with Veer Zaara.
But just calling him a King of Romance would be doing a great injustice to the body of work that Yash Raj Chopra has left behind. In fact romance and candy floss cinema was something he discovered only in the latter part of his career.
His first film as a director was Dhool Ka Phool in 1959It was produced by his elder brother BR Chopra (who later went onto produce and direct the Hindi serial Mahabharat among other things). Dhool Ka Phool is a very sensitive story of an illegitimate child, whose parents happen to be Hindus, being brought up by a Muslim man. The film also had the brilliant song Tu Hindu Banega Na Musalman Banega Insan Ki Aulad Hai Insan Banega among other things.
Chopra followed it with Dharmaputra in 1961, one of the first movies to deal with the horrors of partition. Some of the riot scenes were too real for the audience to handle and caused problems at the cinemas the movie was playing in.
As film journalist Subhash K Jha wrote in a 2004 piece about the movie “The film about Hindu-Muslim relations, touched on the raw history pertaining to the happenings which were just 12 years old. The re-construction in Dharamputra of the carnage during the post-Partition riots opened up raw wounds in the audience, and sparked off riot-like situations at theatres screening the film. Yash Chopra vowed never to go into the thorny communal issue again.”
His next movie was the multi starrer Waqt. The movie is still remembered for the song Ae Meri Zohra Jabeen Tujhe Maloom Nahi picturised on Balraj Sahni. It was one of the earliest movies to be based on the lost and found formula (which the likes of Manmohan Desai later perfected to an art form).
Waqt is the story of Lala Kedarnath (played by Balraj Sahni) who has three sons whose birthdays are on the same day. There is an earthquake and the family is separated and loses contact with each other (what we call bichadna in Hindi movies).
The story goes that BR Chopra, the producer of the movie, wanted Prithviraj Kapoor and his three sons (Raj, Shammi and Shashi) to portray the role of the father and his three sons. But eventually only Shashi Kapoor acted in the movie.
“My brother B R Chopra thought it was a dream cast. One day, he was traveling with Bimal Roy when he narrated the script and also discussed the casting. Bimal immediately told him that the cast was a misfit. The movie was about separation and here I was casting three real brothers so anyone could recognise them. Ultimately the film was made with Shashi Kapoor, Sunil Dutt and Raj Kumar,” Chopra said in his recent interview to Shah Rukh Khan.
Waqt also had one of my all time favourite dialogues in Hindi cinema. “Chinoi seth jinke apne ghar sheeshe ke hon wo doosro par patthar nahi phekan karte,” Raj Kumar (who plays the eldest son) tells the villain Chinoi Seth (played by Rehman). Waqt turned out to be the biggest grosser of 1965.
Four years later in 1969 Yash Chopra made the suspense drama Ittefaq starring Rajesh Khanna, Nanda and Iftekhar. The movie was largely set in one room and did not have any songs, which was a big risk at the point of time it was made. It still remains one of the best suspense movies made in Hindi cinema, and is nail biting till the very end.
In 1973, Yash Raj Chopra launched his own banner Yash Raj films with Daag – A Poem of Love. The story was written by the ace Hindi novelist Gulshan Nanda and was apparently inspired by the English novel The Mayor of Casterbridge. This was Chopra’s sixth film as a director. His first five films were all serious movies. Daag was also high on emotion and melodrama but it had a lot of romance in it as well with superstar Rajesh Khanna romancing both Sharmila Tagore and Raakhe. The movie had some superhit songs like Ab Chahe Sir Phoote Ya Maatha and Mere Dil Main Aaj Kya Hai. Chopra won the Filmfare award for the best director for this movie.
Chopra had also taken to directing movies for film financer Gulshan Rai in the meanwhile. He directed the Dev Anand starrer Joshilla which was released in 1973. The movie did not do well at the box office and is now remembered only for the song kiska rasta dekhen ae dil ae saudai, set to tune by the great RD Burman.
Chopra next directed Deewaar for Rai. The movie was written by the angry young men Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar. Chopra in a recent interview to Shah Rukh Khan on his eightieth birthday said that Deewaar was Salim-Javed’s best script. It was perfect. The movie which released in 1975, the same year as Sholay, went onto become one of the biggest hits of Hindi cinema.
Said to be loosely based on Mazagon dock coolie turned underworld don Haji Mastanit  saw Amitabh Bachchan being firmly established as the angry young man who mouths lines like “main aaj bhi feke hue paise nahi uthatha” and wears billa no 786. The movie was originally not supposed to have any song but songs were added later under pressure from the producer.  
While shooting Gulshan Rai’s Deewaar Chopra was also shooting Kabhie Kabhie. This movie Chopra’s ninth film as a director, would turn out to be his first out and out romantic film. The movie had some brilliant songs written by Sahir Ludhianvi and set to tune by Khayyam. When it comes to describing the love for one’s beloved no better song has been written in the annals of Hindi cinema than
kabhie kabhie mere dil main khayal aata hai,
ke jaise tujhko banaya gaya hai mere liye.
tu ab se pehle sitaron main bas rahi thee kahin,
tujhe zameen par utara gaya hai mere liye. 

In the years to come Chopra would make Trishul for Gulshan Rai. He would also make Kaala Pathar under his own banner along with TrishulKaala Patthar released in 1979 was set around a coal mine and had Bachchan at his brooding best, even though it did fairly average business at the box office. Both Trishul and Kaala Patthar were multi-starrers which revolved around the angry young man played by Bachchan and had very little scope for romance, though they did have the mandatory romantic song.
The year 1981 was a landmark year in the history of Hindi cinema. It saw the release of Silsila starring Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan and Rekha, which was a rather inspired casting. The story goes Smita Patil and Parveen Babi were supposed to star in the film originally opposite Amitabh Bachchan.  But as Yash Chopra explained in a recent interview to Shah Rukh Khan. “Smita was going to play the role that was ultimately played by Jaya Bachchan. I was not very convinced with the casting. I always wanted Rekha and Jaya Bachchan. Amitabh was shooting for his film Kaalia in Kashmir. I went to meet him. He likes to read the bound script. He read the script and asked me, ‘Are you sure you have made the right casting.’ I told Amitabh (Bachchan) that I wanted Jaya and Rekha in the film. He paused for a moment and then said, ‘Bombay jaake unko mil lete hai‘ (Lets go to Bombay and meet them). The very next day we took a flight and during the whole journey we didn’t even speak a word. I met Jaya and Rekha and both of them agreed to do the film.”
Another version of the story goes that Smita Patil pulled out at the lost moment and thus Jaya Bachchan had to step in.
The movie was beautifully shot in Kashmir and Netherlands. Dekha Ek Khwab to Ye Silsile Hue shot in the background of Dutch tulips remains one of the best shot songs in Hindi cinema. It looks fresh even 31 years later. But the movie’s theme of an extra marital affair between two married individuals did not go down too well with the Hindi film audience.
Nevertheless Silsila set the template for what would become the Yash Chopra romance. Good locales, beautifully shot songs, brilliant music and lyrics, and heroines dancing in the rain. The story and the script of the movie which were strong points of Yash Chopra movies till then took a backseat.
Between Silsila in 1981 and Chandni in 1989, Chopra made box office duds Faasle (which people feel is the worst of the 22 movies that he directed) and Vijay (highly inspired by Trishul). Vijay was more in the news for a 16 year old Bakhtawar Murad Khan (better known by her screen name Sonam) cavorting in a bikini with a much older Rishi Kapoor than for its storyline or entertainment value. Chopra also directed Mashaal with Dilip Kumar and Anil Kapoor during those years. The film had some excellent performances and brilliant songs composed by Hridaynath Mangeshkar.
Yash Chopra became the King of Romance with his 1989 hit Chandni. The film had a fairly common do hero-ek heroine waala love triangle story. But it had some excellent songs shot in Switzerland, and it had Sridevi at her peak looking fresh and beautiful as ever. With this film Chopra furthered the Silsila formula and it was a huge box office success despite its weak storyline.
Two years later in 1991 Chopra made Lamhe with Sridevi and a moustache less Anil Kapoor. The movie had all the ingredients of his Silsila formula but it also had a strong storyline of a younger woman falling for an older man who had once loved her mother. The movie has found its audience since its release.
With Darr in 1993, Chopra established Shah Rukh Khan as what came to be known as the anti hero (whatever that means) in Hindi cinema. Four years later in 1997 he made the candy floss Dil to Pagal Hai which had Shah Rukh playing Rahul and saying “Rahul naam to suna hoga” every ten minutes. With a very thin storyline Chopra managed to make Madhuri Dixit look gorgeous, and that along with some great music and Shah Rukh sold tickets at the box office.
In 2004, Chopra directed the Indo-Pak love story Veer Zaara. His last film Jab Tak Hai Jaan is scheduled for release on the day of Diwali next month (I have this nagging feeling that the story line is similar to Daag – A Poem of Love,  Chopra’s first independent production). 
Like he was in his life, in his death, Yash Chopra has been christened the King of Romance. But romance was something he discovered in the second part of his career. Rather ironically some his best movies from Dhool ka Phool to Waqt to Itefaaq to Deewaar to Trishul had very little romance in them, though his later romantic movies like Chandni, Darr, Dil to Pagal Hai and Veer Zaara, definitely made more money. And his latest movie Jab Tak Hai Jaan might very well be the next Rs 200 crore superhit.
The obituary originally appeared on on October 22, 2012.
(Vivek Kaul is a writer. He can be reached at [email protected]