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This article was first published 11 years ago

The Yash Chopra Interview: Walking down memory lane

Last updated on: October 21, 2012 19:31 IST

Image: Shah Rukh Khan and Yash Chopra
Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar Sonil Dedhia in Mumbai

Bollywood's king of romance Yash Chopra passed into the ages on Sunday evening. From capturing the picturesque locales of Switzerland to starting the trend of multi-starrers and dealing with bold, unconventional subjects, Chopra's directorial journey was nothing short of legendary. 

We reproduce here, an interview with the legend, published on his 80th birthday, September 28, 2012. Read on:

On September 27 this year, a special event was hosted by Yash Raj Films at the Yash Raj studios in suburban Mumbai to mark the veteran's 80th birthday.

Shah Rukh Khan, the leading man of Chopra's upcoming film Jab Tak Hai Jaan, kickstarted the proceedings by reciting verses from Chopra 1976 hit Kabhi Kabhie and Jab Tak Hai Jaan. SRK even sang the birthday song as he welcomed the octogenarian on stage.

Chopra, who made his debut as a director in 1959 with Dhool Ka Phool, has directed memorable films like Waqt, Deewar, Kabhi Kabhie, Silsila, Trishul and Chandni, to name a few.

The director walked down the memory lane as he spoke about his journey from being an aspirant engineer to becoming a filmmaker.

Talking about his career that has spanned more than five decades, the director also shared some interesting anecdotes from his life and his films.

He also announced his retirement from films as he said, "I wont direct anymore after Jab Tak Hai Jaan."

Jab Tak Hai Jaan stars Shah Rukh Khan, Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma and is set to release this Diwali.

Read on to know what the retiring filmmaker talked about.

'Jab Tak Hai Jaan is Aditya (Chopra)'s gift to me'

Image: Shah Rukh Khan and Yash Chopra

I won't direct a film after Jab Tak Hai Jaan. After Veer Zaara, I wanted to make a different and a touching film. That is when I told my son Aditya that I want to direct a film. Jab Tak Hai Jaan is his gift to me. He told me to make the film and assured me that he would provide with all the help that I required.

I have never made any calculations in my life. I always went with the flow. I have always listened to my heart and now I believe it's time to retire. In all these years, I have got so much love from my people, my fans, the actors, the technicians and from everyone. I think it is time to pay it back. I want to do a lot of things. I want to help a lot of youngsters who want to become actors, directors and technicians.

I have also been hearing a lot of complains from my wife so I would like to spend some time with her at this young age. (Laughs)

On Shah Rukh Khan: He never asks me for a script

Image: Shah Rukh Khan and Yash Chopra
Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar

It has always been great working with Shah Rukh Khan.

He is one actor who has never asked me about the script or how much money he will charge. He does not meet me before we start shooting to read the script or discuss anything. In fact, after we finish shooting and I send him the cheque he always tells me that I have paid him more.

He always tells me, 'You are directing the film and Aditya (Chopra) has written the script, I don't want to know anything else. Just let me know when do I have to come on the set and start shooting.' It is all because we both have faith in each other.

On Silsila: Jaya, Rekha promised there wouldn't be any problem on the sets

Image: Yash Chopra talks about his film Silsila

The original cast of Silsila (1981) was Amitabh Bachchan, Smita Patil and Parveen Babi.

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.

I remember before I started the film, dono ko maine alag alag bulaya (I called Jaya and Rekha separately), for obvious reasons, and requested them, "please koi gadbad mat karma (Please don't create any problems)."

They assured me nothing would happen.

On Waqt: Bimal Roy thought Shashi, Shammi and Raj Kapoor were wrong choices for the film

Image: Yash Chopra talks about his film Waqt

 Waqt (1965) was one of the first multi-starrer films and the first colour film from the B R Chopra banner and the first film about the story of lost-and-reunited siblings.

The story, written by Akhtar Mirza, was very close to my heart. It was about three brothers who are separated and ultimately come together. At the time the only casting that came to mind was the Kapoor family: Shashi, Shammi and Raj Kapoor. 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.