Dil To Pagal Hai: An Ode To The Cinematic Genius Of Yash Chopra

'Dil To Pagal Hai' (Photo courtesy: Yash Raj Films)
'Dil To Pagal Hai' (Photo courtesy: Yash Raj Films)
'Dil To Pagal Hai' (Photo courtesy: Yash Raj Films)
‘Dil To Pagal Hai’ (Photo courtesy: Yash Raj Films)

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.

Shah Rukh Khan and Shiamak Davar, these were two people whose careers soared post the release of this film. Shah Rukh was reintroduced as the quintessential lover, whose smoldering, intense gaze and dimpled, boyish charm could make any woman weak in the knees. Shiamak Davar, the choreographer of the film, was given the thumbs up by critics and audiences alike, for his cool, contemporary dance moves, perfectly executed on screen by the stars.

So much so, that Davar soon opened dance studios across the county, and now is a name that is recognized all over the world.

Simple, yet elegant; that summed up Chopra’s method of storytelling. Visually, the film was like an exquisite painting, much like Chopra’s yesteryear romantic hits Silsila and Lamhe.

Picture-perfect locales, modern styling, attention to detail were Yash Chopra trademarks, and DTPH did not disappoint in this department. Rumour was that perfectionist Chopra went through 54 different looks before finalizing on the simple churidar-kurta look for his heroine Madhuri Dixit.

The music of the film remains with us even today. We are still in love with the foot-tapping numbers like “Are Re Are”, “Chak Dhoom Dhoom” and “Dholna”. These songs evoke a sense of nostalgia in most of us.

We cannot forget Rahul and Pooja’s seminal romantic scene, “Aur paas… aur paas”, where Rahul draws Pooja to himself most passionately, and she gives in most lovingly. The scene culminates in a passionate embrace, followed by the catchy, hummable song “Dholna”. The pre-climax of the film has drama, where we are left questioning whether our hero and heroine will be blessed with their happy-ever-after, or will we leave the theatre teary-eyed because their love story remained incomplete. The film of course, culminated in a perfect happy ending, thereby uplifting the mood of the audience and giving us a reason to believe in, and celebrate, true love.

Never has there been a director, who has touched so many hearts all over the world with his films, as Yash Chopra. Never again will we see such exquisite, poetic, beautiful romantic moments displayed on celluloid. Never again will our hearts collectively soar, as Rahul and Pooja’s, and Nisha’s did, caught in the throes of love. Never again will we be taught how to love, by the Emperor of Love himself, Yash Chopra.

But these films, these cinematic gifts Chopra has given us, will remain with us forever. We shall forever cherish those joyous, love-soaked hours bestowed on us through his cinema. Yash Chopra will be firmly anchored in our hearts, and will be remembered each time we watch his classic films, each time we hear his romance-infused songs, each time we see heroes and heroines reminiscent of the “Yash Chopra Era”. In this way, Chopra is immortal, for he will live on in our hearts, for generations to come.

Jab Tak Hai Jaan, Chopra will live on, protected within the minds and hearts of his adoring fans.