Yash Chopra was a man with extraordinary vision. Not only did he become famous for the exaggerated stories of courtship in his Bollywood movies, he also magically transported the Indian actors to the Swiss Alps for fantastic scenes of song and dance. As a result he gave the world the classic Bollywood film style that we recognize today, and significantly multiplied the number of Indian tourists that now visit the Alps.
Chopra passed away on October 21 at the age of 80, but leaves behind a unique mark in film history. As reported by NPR:
Starlets in chiffon saris, completely inappropriate for Alpine climates, would flutter in the wind against breathtaking backdrops; heroes would emerge from behind pine trees to sing of a love that would last lifetimes. Switzerland’s landscapes featured so prominently in Chopra’s films that it has become one of India’s top tourism destinations. The Swiss even unofficially named a lake after the filmmaker for his contribution to the country’s unexpected fame in South Asia.
But Chopra’s films rose above a kitschy musical pastiche to become enduring works because they also dealt with very real and complex relationships. He tackled regional conflicts, infidelity and betrayal — and the resolutions of those universal human struggles. And all those multigenerational family sagas were beautifully projected onto the big screen. They featured song lyrics written by poets, and superstar ensembles whose performances won countless awards.