Amitabh Bachchan asked Yash Chopra for a job after bankruptcy: the man who helped make Big B an icon twice


In 2021 you pronounce Yash Chopra’s name and most people around you will associate him with the title of ‘King of Romance’ and although that is part of his legacy, you can never forget that it was the man who played a huge role in making Amitabh Bachchan the icon he eventually became, perhaps twice. The “Angry Young Man” was born from Salim-Javed’s words but he came to life at his best with Yash Chopra. It’s not that. The director who turned Salim-Javed’s words into a vision in Deewar also brought to life Silsila’s nuance Amit who was torn between love and duty. Once Amitabh looked to jumpstart his career after bankruptcy, he was the man he called. On the occasion of Yash Chopra’s 89th birthday, a look back at his collaborations with Amitabh Bachchan which led them to explore their creativity and tell nuanced stories.

The Perfect Movie – Deewar

Yash Chopra and Amitabh Bachchan first collaborated on Deewar from 1975. Bachchan was a star after the 1973 film Zanjeer and the “Angry Young Man” was born. He was the new star of the neighborhood at the time, but looking back, it was the 1975 film Deewar that propelled him to superstar rank. Chopra, in a conversation with Shah Rukh Khan on his 80th birthday, revealed that when he first read Deewar, it was the best script he had read. “There was no flaw (the script),” he said. Written by Salim-Javed, Deewar is still considered one of the best films in Hindi cinema. But, it was not always intended for Amitabh.

Deewar cemented the angry young man character of Amitabh Bachchan.

In an interview with Jyothi Venkatesh of Dreamstar magazine in 1976, Chopra revealed that producer Gulshan Rai signed Rajesh Khanna but after reading Deewar they knew that no one other than Amitabh was made for the role. “Gulshan Rai had signed Rajesh Khanna for his next film. But when we got the Deewar script, we unanimously felt that only Amitabh could do the character full justice. The film, which Rajesh was supposed to make, was put aside later, ”he explained at the time. On several occasions, Bachchan has shared that Deewar continues to be his favorite among all his films.

Intergenerational history – Kabhi Kabhie

With Deewar, Amitabh’s image as an “angry young man” was sealed, but while Yash was making this intense anti-hero flick, he was also having fun with a mature romance in Kabhi Kabhie. YRF’s Kabhi Kabhie was released just a year after Deewar, but these two films were shot simultaneously. Kabhi Kabhie was an ensemble film that boasted names like Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor, Rakhee, Neetu Singh, Waheeda Rehman and Rishi Kapoor but the part of each character was pretty well thought out by Chopra, and his wife Pamela Chopra (credited as the writer of the film).

yash chopra Yash Chopra shot Deewar and Kabhi Kabhie at the same time. (Photo: Express Archives)

In the same interview with SRK, Chopra had revealed that he had shot Deewar and Kabhi Kabhie at the same time and that he wanted to cast Amitabh and Shashi in both because he knew he could fully rely on them, with their punctuality and commitment.

Shortly before Kabhi Kabhie was released, Chopra told Venkatesh: “Amitabh Bachchan is a very good artist. But unfortunately, he was classified today as an “angry young man”. Of course, I’m not denying that I was also partly to blame, as I had presented him as an angry young outlaw in Deewar, which gave his career a boost after Zanjeer who l has resurrected in the industry. At Kabhi Kabhie, Amit innovates. He minimizes his role. You will be able to see the romantic side as well as the serious side of the Amitabh side. I know it is risky to cast Amitabh in a different mold after he has acquired a star image, but I believe it is a pleasure to risk and be successful.

amitabh bachchan In Kabhi Kabhie, Amitabh Bachchan Amit breaks away from poetry after his beloved married someone else.

Years later, Amitabh wrote about his work with Yash on his blog and said the experience was like a picnic. “Working with Yashji has always been a picnic. Informal, relaxed and laid down with humor and eating delicious food. He encouraged the families of the artists to accompany them to the shooting location. Whether in Pune, Kashmir, Amsterdam or Delhi, it was always the same, ”he wrote.

Continued Success – Trishul, Kaala Patthar

With these two diversified hits, the collaboration of Yash Chopra and Amitabh Bachchan got off to a good start. And soon again, they worked at Trishul and Kaala Patthar. Like Deewar, Trishul was also produced by Gulshan Rai and was written by Salim-Javed. At the time this movie was released, Amitabh was a bona fide star who had Sholay, Muqaddar ka Sikandar, Amar Akbar Anthony, Parvarish, Don, and many other hits up the sleeve. Vijay d’Amitabh was the anti-hero who wanted to avenge his mother.

amitabh bachchan Yash Chopra, Shatrughan Sinha and Amitabh Bachchan on the sets of Kaala Patthar. (Photo: Express Archives)

YRF’s Kaala Patthar was made on a larger scale and was based on the story of a mining disaster. Amitabh was his usual fabulous self in this one, but here it was Shatrughan Sinha’s Mangal who walked away with all the applause.

Biggest Casting Blow – Silsila

Around this time, their last collaboration took the form of the 1981 film Silsila. Yash pulled off a casting stunt with this one, but how he pulled it off is a legendary story he shared in the same. SRK interview. Yash had revealed that he had chosen Parveen Babi and Smita Patil in the movie with Amitabh but was not really convinced by the cast. While discussing the film with Amitabh in Srinagar, the actor asked him if he was happy with everything and that’s when Yash shared that his dream cast would be Rekha and Jaya Bachchan.

silsila Having Rekha, Amitabh Bachchan, and Jaya Bachchan play in the same film was the biggest casting stunt of the era.

Amitabh suggested that they return to Mumbai and the director speaks with the two actors. The ladies immediately agreed and filming began in the next few days. Yash mentioned that he spoke to the three of them separately and told them he didn’t want any antics on his set and they promised the shoot would be hassle-free, and that’s it. Offscreen gossip regarding Amitabh and Rekha was at its peak at the time, but the cast did what was best for the movie, which Yash appreciated.

Although Silsila was not fully accepted at the time, the film found an audience in the years that followed.

The return of organic farming with Mohabbatein

For many years after Silsila, the duo did not work together. The ’80s were a slow period for YRF but they rebounded with Chandni, and by the’ 90s Amitabh had moved into another realm with ABCL. His business was in financial difficulty and was eventually declared bankrupt. Amitabh met Yash and it all fell into place.

During the India Today Unforgettables stage in 2016, Amitabh said, “I had a huge financial failure in the company I started. He went bankrupt and he ruined me. He said that’s when he weighed his options: “You sit down and think ‘What can I do? And I said, ‘You are an actor. Go back to acting, that’s what I did. I went to Yash ji and said I didn’t have a job. I need it. ”And that’s how Mohabbatein came about. The film was produced by Yash Chopra and directed by Aditya Chopra who was directing her second feature film after the highly successful Dilwale Dulhania The Jayenge. Mohabbatein, starring the Kaun Banega Crorepati TV show, changed Amitabh Bachchan’s fate at a time when he really needed it.

amitabh bachchan Yash Chopra produced Mohabbatein and the Kaun Banega Crorepati TV show changed Amitabh Bachchan’s fate. (Photo: Express Archives)

The famous director-actor duo last worked together in Yash’s Veer Zaara. Although Amitabh had a small role in the film, it was still memorable.

While Yash Chopra and Amitabh Bachchan both had hit movies without each other, their collaborations in the 1970s pushed them down the path to success that ultimately made them the icons they are. today.

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