By Hindustan Times
MUMBAI, Oct. 25 -- My mother (Sharmila Tagore) was always fond of Yashji (Yash Chopra). I believe he was her escort during the premiere of Aradhana (1969) or some other film around the same time when she was pregnant with me.
When I met Yashji for the first time, I was already in a lot of trouble in the film industry. I had got myself thrown out of my first film. I was also married to Amrita Singh then, so no so one actually wanted to sign me up as they were concerned what my future in the film industry would be like.
It was Yashji, who, displaying the same maverick streak that made him a unique filmmaker, showed his kindheartedness by signing me as one of the leads in Parampara (1993). That's when we actually started interacting.
Yash Chopra with Saif
The first-ever screen test I gave in my film career was for Yashji and Adi (Aditya Chopra). In fact, I have spent more time in their offices and home than anywhere else in the industry. Yashji always had the time to talk to me and the kind of advice he would give was mind-blowing. If I have ever looked at someone as a father figure, it is Yashji.
He was one of filmmaking's old school leaders, who was loved by everyone in the unit - right from the spotboy and the cook to the big stars. The bond that the unit shared while working on Yashji's film doesn't exist in today's time. So when we say goodbye to him, we also bid adieu to that school of filmmaking. In the true sense, Yashji was one of the most loved people in the industry because of his sheer humility.
Not many know that Yashji and I also worked together in Yeh Dillagi (1994), of which he was the producer. Later on, Hum Tum (2004), a Yash Raj Films production, was my first film as the sole male lead which got me the National Award. Looking back, I can confidently state that my career has been formed and is completely owed to Yash Raj Films and to Yashji.