Dil To Pagal Hai: An Ode To The Cinematic Genius Of Yash Chopra
Reams have been written so far in tribute of the man who Bollywood loved and revered most unanimously. Over the past two days, we have been given detailed insight into the unfortunate circumstance of his demise, the funeral proceedings et al.
Here, however, we take you back in time, by paying tribute to the cinematic genius of Yash Chopra, the evergreen director, whose films were an ode to ‘Love’ itself.
Directed by Yash Chopra in 1997, ‘Dil To Pagal Hai’ is a cult classic, which defined the meaning of love to an entire generation. Arguably, the biggest musical made in Bollywood, the film is a tribute to the concept of love and finding one’s true soul mate.
Based on the premise that “Someone, somewhere, is made for you” (as the opening credits proudly proclaim), DTPH is a testament to the fact that romance was never the same once Yash Chopra put his signature stamp on it.
One of the top grossers of the year, DTPH was a dramatic love saga, directed by Yash Chopra and produced under the YashRaj Films (YRF) banner. The film starred Shah Rukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit and Karisma Kapoor in lead roles, with a guest appearance by Akshay Kumar.
It truly was a Bollywood musical in its most grand, glorious form, with 10 superhit, unforgettable songs composed by music director Uttam Singh.
The opening credits reaffirmed the idea that a soul mate exists for each and every person, wherein we were introduced to the most endearing couples; your everyday aam-aadmi, who were shown to be madly in love with each other. From the young, hip, urbane couple, to the grand old Parsi aunty-uncle Jodi, the idea was to get the viewer acclimatized to these “made-in-heaven” pairs. Yash and Pamela Chopra are also seen, in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it mini appearance in the opening credits.
The premise of the film was simple enough: Rahul, a young, talented music show director and stage performer was in love with the idea of the perfect woman, his elusive muse “Maya”, on whom he wanted to base his next play. Nisha, his lead dancer and best friend, believed that love is friendship, and she was in love with Rahul. Pooja was an extremely graceful, talented young dancer, who was cast as Maya, due to extenuating circumstances in the film.
Rahul fell in love with Pooja, who was already betrothed to another (Akshay Kumar, in his most charming guest appearance as Ajay, the good-guy who was on the fringe of things). Pooja soon developed feelings for Rahul, but was torn between her sense of duty to her fiancé Ajay and her insatiable love for Rahul.
A classic love triangle, but the beauty of the film lay in its execution. We were drawn irresistibly by Yashji into the lives of the protagonists; we felt the tug in our heartstrings too, when confronted with the conflict point in the film, we too laughed, cried, sang and danced with Rahul, Nisha and Pooja, we dreamed their dreams and breathed their tale for those few short cinematic hours.
We felt the cold rush of the Swiss Alpine air on our chiffon dupattas, we touched the smooth, green grass of the meadows in Switzerland and elsewhere in Europe, and we smelt the smells of sweat mingled with adrenaline and passion in the dance studio. In short, we lived the lives of the characters on screen, painstakingly made flesh and blood by Yashji; we etched them firmly onto our bosoms and made them a part of our own lives. Such was the power of the great storyteller, known to the world as Yash Chopra- the King of Romance.
The maverick director also introduced us to some very Western concepts, like Valentine’s Day, dance shows and plays and the concept of people in urban India dating before marriage (something that was quite uncommon in Hindi films). And yet, there were some deep-rooted Indian values in the film, like finding your soulmate and loving them for all eternity, and as Nisha proclaims, the ability to love and spend your entire life with one person until the end of time.