Yash Chopra made you fall in love with the idea of love. He made romance romantic like only a true lover could do.
He depicted the vibes of the heart with unique brilliance which only someone who have loved and lost and loved again could do. He did not just make love stories, he painted many shades of love on the big canvas with delightful abandon.
The lead women in pristine white, the luxurious carpet of chinar leaves, the spread of daffodils, the sprawling mustard fields in full bloom and breathtakingly beautiful foreign locales fit easily into his grand vision of romance.
He thought grand and in his scheme of things the depiction of love could not be anything but grand and irresistibly sensuous. He simply loved the idea of ethereal love. The aesthetics and the scale fit in seamlessly. Later on, these traits defined him as a movie-maker.
However, aesthetics in his movies was only the packaging. The true character in his work lay in the portrayal of longing.
He experimented with the madness in love and the sense of loss in separation, and celebrated the many shades of both, some forbidden, some revolting and some acceptable, with the curiosity of a man beguiled by the extremes love led people to.
All his works from Kabhie Kabhie through Silsila, Chandni, Darr, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Dil To Pagal Hai and Veer-Zaara are attempts at exploring love and unraveling its many mysteries.
In Darr, he experimented with obsessive love, giving the lead character Rahul, played by Shah Rukh Khan, a maniacal edge. Rahul pathologically obsessed with winning over the girl he loves would go to any extent, even even if that meant murder.
In Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, the lead character was a conformist, who would rather win over the obstacles in love rather than rebel. In Veer-Zaara, he would languish in a Pakistani jail for years, pining for his lover in an act of sacrifice for love. Yash Chopra simply liked to discover love in its many forms.
Without him filmy love would not be the same. With him go the joyous odes to the oldest and most powerful of human emotions, and also the lilting, moving melody, steeped deeply in Urdu and Punjabi traditions.
He was brilliant at romance but the epithet, the King of Romance, does not do justice to the man who was equally adept at handling other genres too. Deewar, one of the classics of Hindi cinema, reinvented Amitabh Bachchan as the angry young man, the rebel with a grouse against the world.
He made violent classics such as Kaala Patthar and Trishul too. In the less acclaimed Dilip Kumar-Anil Kapoor starrer Mashaal, he took up a socially relevant subject. He was equally comfortable in other genres too but towards the end of his career he had decidedly moved beyond these to focus solely on romance.
So, how does one place Yash Chopra in the pantheon of greats in Hindi cinema? Well, he has to be up there at the very top. As the cliché goes, he was not a man but an institution.
He launched many careers and produced several superstars. He won several awards – eleven Filmfare awards and National awards to boot. But these don’t quite explain the range of Chopra as a creator.
He was much bigger than the awards and the accolades he received in his life. He was the industry patriarch and a legend even while alive.
He leaves a vacuum which nobody can fill. We will still have the chinar leaves, the mustard fields in yellow bloom, the snow-capped hills in distant countries and the divas in pristine white. But missing will be the romantic heart bringing all of them alive together into a joyous whole.
Yash Chopra you will be missed. Rest in peace.