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Top Bollywood director Yash Chopra "the king of romance" passes away at eighty
by Alex Farba-Deleon
Yash Chopra was not just another Bollywood director --he was one of the world's top craftsman of the seventh art although he always crafted his films to suit the taste of the Indian audience, which is the main reason he remains practically unknown in the West. In Asia where Bollywood films are far better known than here Chopra was honored at the Pusan (South Korea) film festival in 2008 as "Asian filmmaker of the year" and an Indian cinema night was held to commemorate the occasion.
Since his directorial debut in 1959 with a film called "Dhool ka Phool" (Blossoms in the dust) Chopra has directed a total of 22 features, (including his latest just finished) which may not seem all that impressive over a five decade career, however he was extremely meticulous and this filmography is laced with numerous landmark films, now regarded as classics of the Hindi cinema. Among them "Deewar", 1975, the film which launched actor Amitabh Bachchan's "Angry young man" career, "Darr" (Fear), 1993, a major film in the early career of Shahrukh Khan, which established him as the successor to Bachchan as "King of Bollywood", "Dil to pagal hai" (The heart is crazy) 1997, a landmark musical romance featuring legendary dancer Madhuri Dixit, and "Veer Zara", 2004, a politically tinged love story between a Pakistani girl and an Indian air force pilot (played by Muslim Shahrukh Khan!) which plays out on both sides of the border. This last film was particularly close to Chopra's heart as he was a Punjabi born in Lahore when it was still British India, but which has been on the Pakistan side of the line since the Partition of India in 1947. Besides being an inter-faith and cross border love story, Veer Zara was one of the few Indian films to show Pakistanis in a positive light (a female Islamic lawyer crusades to get the Indian flyer released from a long unfair jail sentence) and hence became a clarion call for better relations between the two bellicose nuclear armed neighbors.
Anushka Sharma in Yash chopra's swan song film "Jab Tak Hai Jaan".
(M21 Entertainment - filmfestivals.com)
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