No, I don’t really know Aditya Chopra, the scion of Yashraj Films personally. I only know him from what his father and some of his close friends have told me about him. And yes, I’ve had the rare distinction of actually meeting Mr Chopra once.
It happened by accident. I had gone to the Yashraj office to meet a dear friend who worked there. Suddenly, the door to my friend’s cabin opened and Aditya poked his head in, saw me sitting there, nodded his head in a quick hello and bolted.
This makes me the second journalist on this planet to be acknowledged by India’s most reclusive filmmaker. The distinction of being the only journalist to have interviewed Aditya Chopra goes to my friend Khalid Mohamed. I don’t know how Khalid convinced him to speak.
But speak, he did, and extensively after the release of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge.That apart, I only know Aditya Chopra from what I’ve heard from his wife Rani Mukerjee. Apparently he is a caring husband and a fun father for daughter Adira. Ok then.
He is also a first-day-first-show movie buff. Adi doesn’t believe in watching new films at private screenings. He goes to the nearest movie theatre to see new releases to see first-hand how the audience reacts to the drama and the comedy.
Anupam Kher once told me, “Adi has a terrific feel for the box-office. He knows what works and what doesn’t work. Though he is a recluse by choice he keeps tabs on box-office figures of all the films that are released. He is an encyclopaedia of trade figures.”
I once brought up the subject of his elder son with Yash Chopra. His face lit up. “Adi? Adi lives and breathes movies. Sotey-jaagte woh sirf cinema sochta hai. He has no other life.”
This was before Rani Mukerjee. Now I hear Adiji likes to spend all his spare time (of which he has plenty these days) with his wife and daughter.
After the unparalleled success of Aditya Chopra’s Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, his proud father couldn’t stop preening.
Yashji confided in me, “I had never seen so much money before! Log pagal nahin hain jo roz DDLJ dekhne jaate hain. Adi ne dil se banayee yeh picture. When it completed 200 weeks, I thought we had had our innings. But DDLJ kept growing. Now after 500 weeks the general-manager of Maratha Mandir tells me it can easily go on for six more months. It still goes housefull during weekends! Aditya was only 23 when he made DDLJ. I still remember the first time when he narrated the story to me. I had tears in my eyes for two reasons. Firstly, it was because my son had written it. And secondly because it was such a heartwarming story. I knew it was going to be a hit film. But to this extent?! Never. It touched a chord in Indians all over the world. It prompted them to go back to their country, traditions and roots. DDLJ was the first romance where the boy takes the girl away only with the parents' consent. The whole process of winning over the girl's family was unique.
Proud father Yash Chopra was happy to hand over the mantle to Adi. He told me, “Adi handles the creative side of our productions. I handle the financial aspect. When Aditya or I make a film then we discuss everything in detail. But a film like Dhoom is orchestrated entirely by him. Being a romantic film Hum Tum wasn't so costly. But Dhoom being an action film was very expensive.”
Today Aditya Chopra is in an enviable position. He sits on a film empire known to give the entertainment industry startling new talent and super-successful films. I don’t know what Adi will direct next. Lekin ek bio-pic on Yashji toh banta hai, boss. Preferably starring SRK as Yash Chopra and Ranbir Kapoor as Adi Chopra. Alia can play Rani.
Image source: SpotboyE archive