Yash Chopra (1932-2012) spent 60 years in the Indian film industry with 54 years spent producing and directing films. Dubbed "The King of Romance", Chopra directed his first film Dhool Ka Phool (1959) -- about a Muslim raising an illegitimate Hindu child -- when he was just 27.
In 1992, Chopra began work on the film Darr, starring newcomer Shah Rukh Khan (SRK). The actor calls this period beginning in the 1990s as "the modern era of Mr. Yash Chopra because he made the type of movies which even the youngest filmmakers would not have attempted at that time and probably even now."
But another thing that makes this era of Yash Chopra films stand out is that they starred Shah Rukh Khan. Together this duo had a creative chemistry which made for award-winning films.
If you are new to Bollywood, here are the five Yash Chopra films from his "modern era" that you should watch.
Description: It is the story of Rahul Mehra (Shah Rukh Khan) who is obsessed with former college classmate Kiran Awasthi (Juhi Chawla) who is happily engaged to Sunil Malhotra (Sunny Deol). This psychological thriller demonstrates what Rahul is capable of doing to possess Kiran.
Stand Out Songs:
- "Jaadu Teri Nazar" introduces Rahul's mantra -"You are my Kiran"
- "Tu Mere Saamne" portrays a love between Rahul and Kiran that exists in his imagination.
Why I Love This Film: Rahul seems more like the trustworthy boy-next-door rather than an obsessive sociopath. As he befriends his targets he is secretly the source of their terror. And Rahul's "K-K-K-Kiran" stutter is memorable.
Recognition: Declared a "Super Hit" at the Box Office; National Film Award for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment; Filmfare Award for Best Comedian (Anupam Kher); Filmfare Award for Best Cinematographer (Manmohan Singh).
Description: London-based Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) Raj Malhotra (Shah Rukh Khan) and Simran Singh (Kajol) fall in love on a European vacation. However, she must go to India to marry the son of a friend of her father (Amrish Puri). Raj travels to India to try to win over the girl's parents so that she can marry him rather than the boy that her father has chosen.
Stand Out Songs:
- The love song "Tujhe Dekha To" has so famous it is often referred to in other films.
- The enjoyable "Mehndi Laga Ke Rakhna" is sometimes sung at engagement and wedding celebrations in India.
- Both "Ruk Ja O Dil Deewane" and "Zara Sa Jhoom Loon Main" highlight the youthful abandon of Raj and Simran at different points on their European trip.
- "Ho Gaya Hai Tujhko To Pyar Sajna" musically describes how difficult it is for Raj and Simran to be apart.
Why I Love This Film: Everyone loves this film. It has been running non-stop since its release in 1995 and while this was produced by Yash Chopra, it was the first film both written and directed by Yashji's son, Aditya Chopra. Because the obstacles are people we care about, this story keeps you on the edge of your seat waiting to find out whether Raj and Simran will ever be together. (It doesn't look good.) While this film is a love story, it is also a story of relationships and how not to ruin them to get what you want.
- You're the top! "Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge" voted most popular
- Reflections on Raj Malhotra's Speech (Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge)
- 5 Reasons You MUST Watch "Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge" If You Are New To Bollywood
Recognition: Filmfare Awards for: Best Movie (Yash Chopra); Best Director (Aditya Chopra); Best Actor (Shah Rukh Khan); Best Actress (Kajol); Best Supporting Actress (Farida Jalal); Best Comedian (Anupam Kher); Best Lyricist (Anand Bakshi, "Tujhe Dekha To"); Best Screenplay (Aditya Chopra); Best Dialogue (Aditya Chopra, Javed Siddiqi); Best Male Playback (Udit Narayan, "Mehndi Laga Ke Rakhna"). National Film Award for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment. Star Screen Awards for: Best Film (Yash Chopra); Best Director (Aditya Chopra); Best Actor (Shah Rukh Khan).
Stand Out Songs:
- After Rahul and Pooja each share their thoughts on love, "Ek Duje Ke Vaaste" opens the film. This song is heard throughout the film, mostly at times where our characters experience a yearning of the heart. Yash Chopra and his wife Pamela have a cameo at the end of this song.
- "Are Re Are" takes you from a rehearsal at the dance studio to an imaginary world of lovers.
- "Pyaar Kar", sung at a Valentine's Day party, reflects the longing of the heart.
- The fun "Koi Ladki Hai" is performed with children and in the rain - two elements that make any item number particularly memorable.
- The dance troupe performs "Le Gayi" at the beginning of the film, setting the stage for what is to come - a very different Bollywood film.
Why I Love This Film: The dance performances are fun and innovative, the relationships of the characters complex, and the romance magical. The film features the "Aur Paas" scene where Rahul asks Pooja to "come closer" -- firmly establishing Shah Rukh Khan as a heart throb in many a girl's heart. Shah Rukh Khan talked about the importance of this film: "...[Yashji] made a film whose subject was dancing. The way songs are picturized in the Hindi film industry was given a total turnaround. He used a choreographer who had not worked in Bollywood - Shiamak Davar. And everybody, I remember, before that film, used to say, 'yaar Yashji, a film on dance? We're more modern now.' It was more modern than any existing film on those subjects at that time - Dil to Pagal Hai."
Recognition: National Film Awards for: Best Popular Film Providing wholesome Entertainment; Best Choreographer (Shiamak Davar); Best Supporting Actress (Karisma Kapoor). Filmfare Awards for: Best Film; Best Actor (Shahrukh Khan); Best Actress (Madhuri Dixit); Best Supporting Actress (Karisma Kapoor); Filmfare Best Art Direction Award (Sharmishta Roy); Best Dialogue (Aditya Chopra); Best Music Director (Uttam Singh). Zee Cine Awards for: Best Film (Yash Chopra); Best Actor (Shah Rukh Khan); Best Actress (Madhuri Dixit); Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Karisma Kapoor); Best Dialogue (Aditya Chopra); Best Art Direction (Sharmishta Roy); Best Music Director (Uttam Singh); Best Female Singer (Lata Mangeshkar); Best Cinematography (Manmohan Singh); Best Choreography (Shiamak Davar).
4. Veer-Zaara (2008)
Description: Set against the backdrop of conflict between India and Pakistan, this star-crossed romance follows the unfortunate love story of Indian Air Force pilot Squadron Leader Veer Pratap Singh (Shah Rukh Khan), and Zaara Haayat Khan (Preity Zinta), a Pakistani woman hailing from a rich political family of Lahore. They cannot be together because Zaara must marry Raza Sharazi (Manoj Bajpai) in order to save her father from financial and political ruin. Twenty-two years later Pakistani human rights lawyer Saamiya Siddiqui (Rani Mukerji) finds Veer in prison. After listening to his story, she takes his case to court to try to get him freed.
Stand Out Songs: The music is based on old and untouched compositions by the late Madan Mohan, as revised by his son Sanjeev Kohli. The music is so beautiful, additional compositions were recorded to create a four disc collectors edition of the soundtrack.
- Music from the beautiful love song "Tere Liye" is heard throughout the film.
- As our lovers part, the song "Do Pal" is their theme of painful separation.
- The haunting "Main Yahaan Hoon" has Veer reminding Zaara that though there is physical distance between the two lovers, he is close by in her heart.
- "Aisa Des Hai Mera" is song of love for one's country as well as a reminder of the similarities between Veer and Zaara, despite their cultural and political differences.
- The powerful "Aaya Tere Dar Par" appears in two scenes which are intense and seem to seal their fates.
Why I Love This Film: After watching the opening item number, you know you are in for a different kind of film. The music is amazing, the story compelling, the characters lovable, and the resolution satisfying. Described as a "love legend", this is perhaps Yash Chopra's most romantic film.
Recognition: The film was a big success in India and Pakistan. The film won too many awards to list here including Filmfare Awards for best dialogue, story, movie and lyrics.
5. Jab Tak Hai Jaan (2012)
Description: Akira Rai (Anushka Sharma), a curious Discovery Channel intern, finds the diary of Indian Army bomb-disposal expert, Samar Anand (Shah Rukh Khan), which recounts his days as a struggling immigrant in London and his romance with Meera Thapar (Katrina Kaif).
Stand Out Songs:
- Filmed on the streets of London, "Challa" is the theme song of Samar, the street musician.
- "Heer" is the Punjabi song Samar teaches Meera to sing at father's 50th birthday celebration.
- "Ishq Dance" followed by "Ishq Shava" ignite the spark between Samar and Meera and "Saans" shows us their passionate love story.
- The title song "Jab Tak Hai Jaan" is featured in the end credits with a video homage to Yash Chopra who died before the film was released.
Why I Love This Film: As Yash Chopra's last film, this is an outstanding reflection of the best of Bollywood. The film deals with love, faith, hope, friendship, courage, and many other complex themes in a respectful and honest way.
- Yash Chopra: "Don't Ever Forget Me, Always Remember Me, Jab Tak Hai Jaan"
- With a Passion that Can Drive You Mad ("Challa", Jab Tak Hai Jaan)
- Dancing with Shah Rukh Khan (Ishq Dance and Ishq Shava - Jab Tak Hai Jaan)
Recognition: The film won four Filmfare Awards, five Zee Cine Awards and two Colors Screen Awards. The music, composed by A. R. Rahman with lyrics by Gulzar, received numerous awards. In a recent poll conducted by Indiatimes, the song "Saans" won the title of "Most Romantic Song of the year 2012".
Don't know which film to watch first? The following playlist features trailers for each of these films.
If you liked this post, check out our other Friday Five posts.