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January 22, 2019

The Loss of romance in Bollywood

On Sunday October 21, I heard some news that broke my heart and made me cry. At that moment I could not understand why the death of veteran filmmaker Yash Chopra had such a big impact on my life.

I had never met the man, and I’ve only known him through his work, watched him in televised interviews and watch stand up comedians poke fun at him.

So, why the tears, you ask. Well, every time I have watched a Yash Chopra film, either directed or produced under his Yash Raj Films banner, I have been left with a wonderful feeling inside.

I’ve always walked away feeling that I too can have an eternal love story. I am a romantic at heart but unfortunately life dealt me a strange set of cards.

Despite that, I plod along, still believing deep down that some day a frog will become the prince I search for. Watching movies made by Yash Chopra made me believe in fairy tales.

So when I heard of his death I felt that perhaps with him being no more, my quest for the frog prince also died a death. Completely croaked it.

Yash gave Bollywood cinema romance and love stories that were always way ahead of their time. Sometimes, his films would not be ‘understood’ by the masses because he’d have tackled a subject that was probably would only make sense years later.

In Lamhe for example, he had a man fall in love with a woman who loved someone else and she died leaving behind her daughter. He becomes her ward and finds himself falling in love with her.

In the early 90s the audiences gasped and rejected this as unreal and ridiculous. However had he made this movie now, he’d have been told what a boring subject about the daily mediocre lives of people in relationships!

The other thing about Yash Chopra was his portrayal of Punjab. Being a Punjabi I get a bit miffed when Bollywood filmmakers seem to think that showing a Sardar in their film with bad punch lines and horrid comic timing is their idea of buffoonery.

With the Chopra touch, Punjab was always seen through a Punjabi’s eyes. The vast fields, the tractors, the colourful dancing, the traditions, the attire, everything he showed us about Punjab was utterly beautiful. He was tasteful in his approach with every movie he churned.

The last movie he directed Jab Tak Hai Jaan (‘Until there is life’) is still in production and slated for release during this year's Diwali. This movie might be his biggest hit ever. Rest in Peace Yash Chopra ji.


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