Renowned director and producer Yash Chopra has died due to complications associated with dengue fever. He was 80 years old.
Chopra, who has produced more than 50 films over 5 decades, was born in Lahore, Pakistan to a Punjabi family. He began his career in the realm of social dramas working with his brother B.R. Chopra. Chopra's directorial debut was Dhool Ka Phool in 1959, produced by his brother, followed by Dharmputra in 1961 with Sashi Kapoor in his first role. Both films examined interrelations between Muslims and Hindus and Chopra won his first National Film award (Best Feature Film) for Dharmputra. Over the course of his illustrious career he would go on to win 6 National Film awards and 11 Filmfare awards.
While Chopra moved between genres, he was famous for his trademark brand of romance, producing, directing and writing feel-good, multi-starrer films featuring song and dance numbers shot in international settings that excelled at entertaining the local and global Bollywood film audience. He was also known for his serial collaborations and for both launching and shaping two of Hindi cinemas brightest stars, Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan. Bachanan and Khan would go on to become the biggest stars of their respective generations, maintaining their dominance in the industry today.
In 1970 Chopra married Pamela Singh and together they had two sons, Aditya and Uday. During this time Chopra established what has become India's most successful and influential film production house, Yash Raj Films (YRF). Chopra, chairman and founder, directed and produced under the banner until his death alongside his son Aditya, who is vice-chairman and general manager of the company.
Under the Yash Raj banner, Chopra set about filming love through every possible prism. Chopra's first film as producer/director was Daag (1973), starring Sharmila Tagore and Rajesh Khanna, about a widowed mother who discovers her husband is alive and married to another woman. It went on to become a major hit. Refusing to work again with Khanna due to personality issues, Chopra then forged a highly successful partnership with Bachchan. He directed star vehicles that established the actor's cult status as the 'angry young man' of the industry with Deewar (1975) before transforming him into a romantic lead with Kabhi Kabhie (1976) and Trishul (1978).
Following a series of setbacks in the 1980s, Chopra debuted Shah Rukh Khan as an obsessed lover in Darr (1993). He went on to reframe Khan as a romantic lead when he produced the blockbuster Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (1995), directed by Aditya and starring Khan and Kajol. The film propelled Khan into the stratosphere of leading men and created a classic, enduring screen partnership between Khan and Kajol. While his focus predominantly shifted to producing for the remainder of his career, Chopra was to direct three more films, all starring Khan: Dil To Pagal Hai (1997), with Madhuri Dixit and Karisma Kapoor, Veer-Zaara (2004), co-starring Preity Zinta and Rani Mukerji, and Jab Tak Hai Jaan (2012), featuring Katrina Kaif, which is due for release in November. Chopra had previously announced that Jab Tak Hai Jaan was to be his last film as director.
Recognised as a giant of the industry in both India and overseas, Chopra has been honoured with numerous prestigious awards including a BAFTA Lifetime achievement award.
Chopra is survived by his wife, Pamela, and his sons Aditya and Uday.