Monday, October 22, 2012

The Yash Raj

मेरी टेढ़ी मेढ़ी कहानियाँ, मेरे हसतें रोते ख्वाब
(Meri Tedhi Medhi Kahaaniyan, Mere Haste Rote Khwab)

कुछ सुरीले बेसुरे गीत मेरे, कुछ अछे बुरे किरदार
(Kuchh Sureele Besure Geet Mere, Kuchh Ache Bure Kirdaar)

वोह सब मेरे हैं, उन सब में मैं हूँ
(Woh Sab Mere Hai, Un Sab Mein Main Hoon)

बस भूल ना जाना, रखना याद मुझे
(Bas Bhool Na Jaana, Rakhna Yaad Mujhe)

जब तक है जान, जब तक है जान 
(Jab Tak Hai Jaan, Jab Tak Hai Jaan)

Those were the very last words we heard out of Yash Chopra, barely 3 weeks ago in his conversation with Shahrukh Khan at his birthday. I am too inconspicuous to even pay a fitting tribute to his stature. Thus, allow me here to just grieve a personal loss.

Gutted, confused and cinematically orphaned, I am still not ready to accept this insurmountable deprivation. This just cannot happen. I sit here, sulking alone in my room, expecting Yashji to jump out of this temporary oblivion to fill my screen with awesomeness, to inspire generations and to incite those little dreams of millions across the globe. Is there another director who can direct two dimensionaly opposite films, like Deewar and Kabhi Kabhie simultaneously, shuttling between schedules, sets and actors and still weave magic with both of them, emblazoning them in the pages of history as exceptional cinema?

Padma Bhushan. 2 National Awards. Dadasaheb Phalke Award. 11 Filmfare Awards. Legion of Honor. Waqt. Ittefaq. Daag. Deewar. Kabhi Kabhie. Silsila. Chandni. Lamhe. Darr. Dil Toh Pagal Hai. Veer Zaara. Scores of other awards and recognition. Many other films directed and produced. It is awe-inspiringly futile to list the feats and accolades of this man. But whats harder is to encapsulate his innate talent and transcendental contribution to Indian cinema in just one post. 80 years young, Yashji was not just the King of Romance. A career spanning 53 years and 22 films is not just a formidable oeuvre, but also a journey that yahoos about pioneering a fore-fatherhood of the industry and steering its discourse with the changing times. That famous dialogue in Deewar, that scene in Mashaal, that emotional upheaval in Silsila, that unconventional love of father-daughter in Lamhe, that cynical lover in Darr or that immortal love in Veer Zaara, Yashji's movies have time and again broken the barriers of filmmaking and soared into the extraordinary. While its hard to bracket Yashji as a filmmaker of a genre, it is harder to find anyone else who achieved such phenomenal success both with Box Office and critics all through his career. A whole new world will blossom in heaven today while we stand here, lobotomized and stupefied. 

For me, I can only swallow it hard. When I was 6 years old, I watched Waqt on television and was instantly sucked into the fears of a family separating by an earthquake. When I sneaked out  to watch Daag, a film meant otherwise for adults, I wondered if there could be a better depiction of timeless love. When I saw Kabhi Kabhie, I was swept away with the ease Yashji could tell a complicated story. When I saw Darr, I had no idea that the villain could also be the lead character. I saw Deewar much later only to realize that it was not only Yashji's best work, but also the best movie made in Indian cinema history. He may have touched one too many lives across the world unified by a love for cinema, but for me, he was the seed of inspiration and of a spirited thought that I would like my first film to be a love story, always. At his 80th birthday a few weeks back, the man of few mumbled words, the grand cine-star, light-heartedly shared his entire journey and a world listened. An abhorrent void is all that exists in me having lost him so soon right after, a deep wistful longing that if I ever make a movie, I cannot even hope to show it to him. Is this fair?

I feel paralyzed, but I also feel an inexorable desire to nosedive into the industry that he worked in, to walk the same lanes as he did, to be surrounded by the air he was, to strive for an ounce of his cinematic craft, to be able to break new grounds with as much vigor and moxie as he did and above all, to be able to follow my heart as much as he could. The era has not ended, the legend is not over. Not until we stop living in his movies, and we never will. 

The Yash Raj is here, now and forever, Jab Tak Hai Jaan!

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