By Hindustan Times
MUMBAI, Oct. 23 -- Very early in my career, after Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988), I got the chance to work with Yashji in Chandni (1989). The cameo was the first time I worked with Yashji and I was very new, young and in awe of him. Later, I worked with his production house in Aaina (1993).
Yashji rarely came on the sets, yet he was aware of what was going on and was a guiding force for all of us. He used to keep an eye on us from a distance. It was my first full-fledged film with him, and I got to know him and his wife Pamji better.
When I signed Darr (1993), it was the biggest thing that happened to me. I had never dreamt that I would be a Yash Raj Films' heroine, being directed by Yashji himself. I never dared to dream so, which is why that moment was a huge high for me personally and professionally.
The film took me to my career's peak, as it was a big deal then, as it is even today, to be a Yash Chopra heroine. He was the only one who presented his heroines well and gave them an equal platform alongside the heroes. The other makers did give prominence to heroines in their films, but Yashji took it to another level. His actresses got noticed, as his movies were about romance and the heroines always turned out exceptionally well and at their prettiest.
Working with him in Darr was an overwhelming experience. I couldn't believe I was actually doing the film. Before the first day of shoot, I thought someone would call me and say this was a joke. And back then, there were no bound scripts, but for Aaina I got a script and Yashji himself narrated the whole story of Darr. It was wonderful to work with him, but I was always in awe of him and I looked up to him.
Yashji was always warm and friendly. He put me at my ease, but still I found it hard to express myself before him. His focus was on his work and he was quick about it. I never heard him shout at anyone. At his home, it was always about having fun and loads of good food. It was exactly like the Punjabi families he depicted on screen. We would go to his house on Holi and Diwali, stay late and play cards. Recently, I met him at Amitji's party and he was joking with me. Whenever we met he was always affectionate towards me.