By Hindustan Times
More than being a legend and the best filmmaker India has ever produced, I am privileged and honoured to say that Yash uncle is like a father figure to me. I love him tremendously. It feels great to have grown up around him. He always told me, ‘Never say you don’t have a father because you always have me.’ It makes me feel extremely comfortable when I hear that from him. I don’t think there is any filmmaker in the world active in his 50th year of film direction. Yash uncle is a living example of why people should never let go of their spirit and commitment towards cinema.
For me, he is not just the king of romance; he is the king of versatility. How else would you explain a thriller like Ittefaq (1969), an intense drama like Deewar (1975), besides Lamhe (1991), which grappled with social issues, and Veer- Zaara (2004), which was a cross-border love story? Both Shah Rukh and I are in complete awe of Yash Chopra. He (Shah Rukh) doesn’t need to listen to the script to get on board Yash uncle’s film. Getting a call from ‘the’ Yash Chopra is more than enough for anyone to say yes.
Recently, I celebrated my 40th birthday. I really hope that I remain just as active at 80 — though it seems very difficult (laughs) — as Yash uncle. I don’t believe Jab Tak Hai Jaan could be his last directorial film. His legacy will continue in the coming years and decades. On his 80th birthday, like always, I will seek Yash uncle’s blessings. Being around him makes me feel secure and comfortable. I don’t know when, how, and if at all, we would ever find another Yash Chopra.
Leading ladies speak
“I think Yashji is the youngest person I know. He is just so energetic on the set. Despite being so successful over such a long career, his passion for the craft is still like that of a child, and very infectious for everyone around him. He inspires everyone around him to give their best.”
“Yashji has always been an inspiration to everyone who has had the honour of interacting with him. Having worked with him throughout the last year, I am genuinely amazed by him. His demeanor and thought processes completely belie his age, so much so that if people didn’t talk about how ‘senior’ Yashji is, it is very easy to imagine him to be at least 30 years younger.”
“Yash uncle is a legend. I have grown up watching his films and he is best loved for his romantic films. There are very few directors who have conquered different genres of films with equal aplomb. In fact, some of his films have been way ahead of their time. It was my good fortune that I had the opportunity to work with him in Veer-Zaara”
“When you talk of romance in Indian cinema, you think of Yash Chopra. I’m extremely fortunate to have worked with him and to know him. He is the warmest, sharpest, nicest and the most fun director I’ve worked with. Here’s wishing him a happy birthday and lots of love always.”