Rani Mukerji: In Yash Chopra’s films, women had an equal part or even slightly better part than men
A documentary on Yash Chopra and his production house Yash Raj Films, The Romantics, is now streaming on Netflix
Actor Rani Mukerji said that she is fortunate to not only find Yash Chopra as a filmmaker and a mentor who shaped her as an artist but also as a father-in-law.
Rani said: "From my childhood, my memory of my favourite films was directed by the one and only Yash Chopra. His name was synonymous with romance. Women wearing white, chiffon sarees, snow-covered mountains, stunning locales, beautifully framed shots, breathtakingly beautiful close-ups of actresses, insanely romantic scenes, and outstanding music and dances."
"These were all parts of Yash Chopra movies that were engraved in my mind since childhood, Chandni and Lamhe being my all-time favourites."
The actor added, "When I came into this profession, and I got to know him personally, I discovered that he is so much more than just a filmmaker. He was an absolutely amazing person."
"Him being a versatile and genius filmmaker was given, but what actually moved me was when I met the person behind the larger-than-life personality. So down to earth, humble, jovial, and so respectful. He had a great sense of humour. He was always the favourite person at any gathering. He had this magnetic energy that always drew all of us towards him; he was full of life and always fun to be around."
"He never brought his towering personality of being 'The Yash Chopra' with him at any instance."
Rani went on: "Over the years, I developed a personal relationship with him. When I watched The Romantics for the first time, I had a whole perspective of what made Yash uncle so special."
"I truly believe that it was the influence that Pam aunty had in his life that made him so remarkable in understanding relationships and capturing that aspect on screen. Her presence brought so much love and warmth into his style of romance, which he was so revered for."
Rani looked up to Yash Chopra for presenting actresses with dignity and showcased them as towering faces of courage and self-belief.
Rani said: "He literally made every Indian aspire to be like the characters that he presented on screen. His actresses were beautiful inside out. Not only were they presented like goddesses - ethereal beauties - but were at the same time very real as people, it was never about external beauty. When you scratched the surface, these were people supported by amazing characteristics that made them inspiring and believable at the same time."
"I have always been in awe of how he presented his heroines on screen, and secretly always wished to be the quintessential 'Yash Chopra heroine' In Yash uncle's films, the women always had an equal part or even slightly better part than men."
"It speaks volumes about him as a filmmaker that he always listened to his heart rather than conforming to the norms. His immense respect for women always showed in the way he presented his heroines."
While Yash Chopra is celebrated unanimously for his mastery over the romance genre, Rani considers him to be a filmmaker who could stamp his presence across all genres.
Yash Chopra's Darr, a violent love story, or Deewar, an anti-establishment family drama, saw him delivering path-breaking films with varied genres.
Rani said: "I don't think there is any other filmmaker who has dabbled in so many different genres in their lifetime. Yash uncle truly knew how to epitomise relationships in films, it was just not a love story it was about true human relationships and that is what he depicted. He was very close to the grassroots of understanding people and relationships which he depicted in his films so brilliantly.
She added: "He was also ahead of his curve like Lamhe was one of those films that the trade and the audience didn't accept. Especially for the unbelievable ending. But Yash uncle never shied away from telling a story that he believed in, and as of today, it is one of the most lauded films of his career."
"What comes across through the documentary and his interviews is that films were ingrained in his blood."
The Romantics has been directed by Oscar & Emmy-nominated filmmaker Smriti Mundhra.