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Bollywood director Yash Chopra to be honored at Pusan festvial

As an indication of the ever increasing outreach of Bollywood, one of the most famous practitioners and directors of this special Indian brand of film, Yash Chopra, 76, will be honored at the upcoming 14th annual Pusan IFF in South Korea, where he will  be named "Asian filmaker of the year". 

An Asian (Indian) cinema night will be held in Chopra's honor. Since his directorial debut in 1959 with a film called "Dhool ka Phool" (Blossoms in the dust) Chopra has directed a total of 21 features, which may not seem all that impressive over a five decade career, however this filmography is laced with numerous landmark films, now regarded as classics of the Hindi cinema. Among them "Waqt", "Deewar" (the film which launched actor Amitabh Bachchan's "Angry young man" career, "Silsila" (The Affair"), "Darr", ('93) a major film in the early career of definitive Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan, "Dil to pagal hai" (The heart is crazy), 1997, a landmark musical romance extravaganza, and "Veer Zara", 2004, a politically tinged love story between a Pakistani girl and a Indian air force pilot (played my Muslim Shahrukh Khan!) which plays out on both sides of the border. This last film was particularly close to Chopra's heart as he was born in Lahore (British India, in 1932), on the Pakistan side of the line since the Partition of India in 1947.
Equally if not more important than his directorial career is his career as a producer, which covers some forty films right up to the present.  The Yash-Raj production company, (Yah Raj Films) founded by him in 1973, is now considered as the prestige "Banner" in Bombay, the one every aspiring actor hopes to score a casting with. This is run by Yash and his son Adita Chopra, who is also a director of some note. Recent films produced by Yash Raj Productions include "New York", 2009, which was shot completely in The Big Apple, and deals with post 9/11 repercussions in the South Asian communities of New York, and "Dil Bole Hadippa", a brand new cricket comedy, which will be premiered at the Toronto film festival on September 18. There is a full length study of the career of Yash Chopra  in English authored by Rachel Dwyer, professor of Indian studies at the School of Oriental and asia Studies (SOAS) in London and published by the British Film Institute in their "World Directors" series.
Yash Chopra was one of the first Indian directors to shoot parts of his films outside of India, (these days a common practice) --notably extravagant dance scenes set in the Swiss Alps, which have been a big hit with Indian audiences enamoured by the "exotic" locales to be seen in these movies. In fact, a lake in Switzerland has been unofficially named ‘Chopra Lake' because of the way he has used it in his pictures. Chopra has been honoured by The Swiss Government for "rediscovering Switzerland" and was presented a special Award by Actress Ursula Andress on behalf of the appreciative Swiss people. (free advertising!)
With his vast years of experience in the entertainment business, Yash Chopra is the indisputable leader of the Indian Film industry. In India itself he has received just about  every award conceivable, but it is an item of interest to see him garnering recognition in far-off Pusan.  Previous recipients of the Asian filmmaker of the year award have been Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Taiwan's Hou Hsia-Hsien, Hong Kong's Andy Lau, and Kazakhstan's Gulnara Aarsenova. The Pusan festival is scheduled to run from 8 to 16 October.  

by Alex Deleon 


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