Yash Raj Chopra may represent the old guard of Indian cinema, but he is not just Bollywood’s spiritual leader — he also remains on the front line of both directing and producing.
Having been in the vanguard for more than four decades, he receives ecstatic receptions in public and is treated like a savior by many members of the Bollywood establishment.
His company YRF was established in 1971 when Chopra was seen to be at the height of his powers as a director, and he struck up a long-term creative partnership that propelled the career of superstar Amitabh Bachchan, notably on “Deewaar” and “Kabhi kabhie.”
While his name is synonymous with the glamour of the romantic film and Bollywood excess — he was once given an award by Switzerland for idealizing that country in so many of his movies — Chopra has, in fact, regularly spearheaded genre innovations. He also plays an active part in scoring his movies.
YRF’s recent “Kabul Express” was politically charged enough to get it banned in Afghanistan, while “Chak de! India,” an unusual field hockey comedy-drama starring Shah Rukh Khan, whose career he helped launch, was one of the biggest hits of this year.
There’s innovation, too, on the production front. Company’s studios, headed by son and fellow multihyphenate Aditya, are among the most modern anywhere in Asia. YRF recently signed a co-production deal with Disney that is intended to expand both companies into Indian animation. First into production is “Roadside Romeo.”