Monday, October 22, 2012

Yash Chopra- Intelligent Emotions

Yash Chopra was a curator of cinematic sensibilities, creating an eclectic mélange of memorable moments from available material. He was perceptive about the raging issues in his cultural milieu and more importantly, he was alive to the dramatic possibilities of these sensibilities and undercurrents. It may be discontent of the youth (Deewar and Trishul) or guilt-ridden desire that rage against the social structures (Silsila, Kabhi Kabhi) or self beating penance for existential shame ( Kala Pathar). In all such cases he realized these possibilities in strictly traditional medium and idiom. He was a synthesizer of cozy lyricism of the traditional and blinding rationality of the modern. He was not be mistaken for avant-garde or experimental auteur, which is not a bad thing with him. His packaging (both attire and thinking) of culture was state of the art. He knew what will resonate with his  audience in terms thoughts and behaviour. In depicting  thought and behaviour he was at the frontier of modernity (remember characters, cars, homes, opulence and the attitude in all his films like Chandni, Lamhe, Silsila or even Darr), however in projecting values he remained resolutely traditional. He was a storyteller who could narrate the modern with easy accessibility of the tradition.
He devised a formula of containing the rebellious undercurrents with all their volcanic cinematic possibilities in strictly traditional medium and idiom. He was pitch perfect in creating enjoyable moments, tender moments, intense moments or emotional scenarios. His introduction of conflict and tension was swift and believable (marriage of Rakhi in Kabhi-Kabhi, Death of Shashi Kapur in Silsila, awakening of desire in many tradition bound daughters). His alchemy kept these developments effective and created solid foundation for dénouement that was a traditional resolution, complete with happy ever after ending. 

He is particularly known for his portrayal of romance. Like a true romantic, he made the reactions to the situations of romance a touchstone for overall character. Romance will be based on solace for tortured self  (Amitabh-Rakhi in Kala Pathar) or happy go-lucky (Shashi-Hema Trishul) but ultimately it determined that what sort of person the protagonist was. Furthermore, he often used romance to frame the main theme of his film. Four romances of Trishul- Sanjeev-Waheeda, Amitabh-Rakhi, Shashi-Hema and Sachin- Poonam Dhillon provided a context to the central theme of illegitimacy and betrayal. 

He was an intelligent film-maker well conversant with the dominant themes of his times and was clued in to the zeitgeist. This intelligence was tempered by a heart full of vibrant emotions and a healthy respect for tradition and its ability to provide solace and entertainment. An accomplished film-maker, he will be missed for his enduring success which he made look so effortless.

-Dhiraj Singh

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