Sunday, October 28, 2012

remembering Yash Chopra

A week ago I was asked to write a piece on Yash Chopra for Rediff, and it has just been posted! The title is a little misleading; while I do think he made some gorgeous films, thinking through his career to write this piece made me realize just how brilliant he is at the dark sides of the human experience: despair, longing, isolation, fear.

I also realized that my problems with Yash Chopra films are almost always the stories, not what he does with them. That's why I so intensely dislike Silsila, for example; even though it's perfectly pretty to look, its basic premise repels me so much that I cannot get on board. And it's also one reason Darr impresses me: the story is disturbing but they way he pulled it together...amazing.

I have written up ten of Yash Chopra's films on this site. A few of these were written quite early in my Bolly watching and may not reflect how I would feel if I rewatched the films.
Dharmputra 1961
Waqt 1961
Deewaar 1975
Kabhi Kabhie 19796
Trishul 1978
Kaala Patthar 1979 (and episode of the Masala Zindabad podcast here)
Silsila 1981
Darr 1993
Dil To Pagal Hai 1997
Veer-Zaara 2004
I've also seen Faasle, but...meh, though obviously the concept of Farooq Shaikh and Deepti Naval in a Yash Chopra film is funny. And in case you missed it the first time, here is exactly what I, by way of Sassy Gay Friend, think of Chandni and Lamhe. Barf. 

5 comments:

Deepak said...

Hi Beth

I just happenned to read the article on rediff and the single reason that I am writing this comment is your glowing albeit short piece on Kala Patthar.

To date its my favourite Amitabh Bachchan movie and its an underrated gem. The pain and anguish that is there in his character comes from a very deep understanding of human psyche-especially on how people deal with guilt. I like the little nuances in movie like- Amitabh never wears a clean shirt(except for a brief flashback as a ship captain)- its always smudged and in various shades of black- much like his tormented soul. The line where says "My pain is my destiny and I cant avoid it" is a masterclass. You literally can sense the storm in him. Its brilliant.

Thank you for bringing it up again.They say once in a blue moon you do stumble on a diamond in a coal mine (coming from same carbon family and all). Kala Pathar is a Kohinoor from Yash Chopra.

Regards
Deepak

Gaurav K said...

Hi Deepak

You beat me to it. Kaala Patthar remains my all time favorite movie of all time.

The Amitabh angst, the tension build up Shatrughan and Amitabh , the frustrated yet hand-tied Shashi Kapoor, the good songs - I think the movie was just Flawless!

Best,
Gaurav

Beth Watkins said...

Deepak and Guarav - Thank you so much for commenting. Couldn't agree more. :) I hope you will check out the podcast about Kaala Patthar I link to in this post - you'll enjoy our 30 minutes of exploring and praising the film. :)

karrvakarela said...

I completely agree with you about Yash Chopra's earlier work being far better than the more recent movies. I went back and saw "Mashaal" a few nights ago and was surprised by its moral pitch - there are scenes between Dilip Kumar and Anil Kapoor that feel like minor catechisms. I suspect part of this has to do with Dilip Kumar's skill as an actor but is also largely a function of the times. Morality (middle class or otherwise) was more starkly defined and filmmakers were not as ambiguous or reluctant to profess an argument. (This was of course the era of Gulzar and Hrishikesh Mukherjee who themselves were beneficiaries of the work of Bimal Roy and his contemporaries.)

I suspect a lot of the people who know Yash Chopra's work only through movies like "Chandni", "Lamhe" and "Veer-Zaara" will be in a for quite a nice surprise when they watch the earlier films.

Beth Watkins said...

Karrvakarela - Not sure where your comment went, but - it's always nice to talk to someone who appreciates Yash Chopra's earlier stuff too (not that I think most people don't - it just seems the chiffon-look romances overshadow them, for some reason). I'm with you - I hope lots of people will watch! Mashaal is on netflix instant right now, I think, so maybe I will catch it soon too.