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  Director Yash Chopra talks about Bollywood
Updated 22 January 2003, 10.33
Yash Chopra
Yash Chopra is one of Bollywood's most famous directors.

Here he talks to Becky Jago about his career and how he makes his movies.

I've been in this industry for a long time - 51 years - and made a lot of films, mostly romantic ones about human relations.

I've made 21 films, and produced about 10. They have been strong films with strong heroes and with women as central figures.

The biggest hit of my career was made by my son, Dil War. It's still running strong and no film has done so well! It also became a cult overseas.

The characters in the film are based in London. They go to Europe and fall in love, but the girl is engaged to someone in India.

For the first time people in other countries identified with it because it was their lives.

I admire all the great actors, like the Kapoors, Kumars and Bhachans. An actor must be the best to become a star though!

But now we want more global crossover. People have made big blockbusters and the future is bright and we have good film-makers, good actors.

The only problem is the scripts and we need to concentrate more on this. Films are becoming more commercial and they repeat the same formula, copying Hollywood.

But our audiences are more exposed to world cinema now so we have more competition. If someone sees Indian movies they can now make a better judgement about what is good and what's bad.

What's the formula?
In Indian films music is very important. I definitely feel that the stories are the most important. But you can embellish it with good music, dancing and great locations. Great artists alone won't make a good picture, only a good story. Having big stars are no guarantee either.

Do you choose the actors?
I finalise the story, then I choose who's suitable for the role. Today I'm lucky that whoever I want usually co-operates and is happy to work with me. I have introduced lots of new actors and new film-makers into the industry.

Lots of young people go to see films because they like the lead actors.
At least you're guaranteed success at the box office when you use them. But the story is the real thing that will take it to the top. It's the same all over the world.

Bollywood has had a bad year in India but in the UK it's become huge.
We've made films that haven't done well here, but they've been hits in the UK. Very few films are liked everywhere. In India some films are big hits in the cities, but they don't do well in the smaller places. And sometimes it's the other way round.

Technologies are also changing and there are so many ways to watch a film now, like on TV, DVD and cinemas. If you make money out of the many ways people watch a film you'd never make a loss, but piracy is killing the business.

In the UK, the fashion and food is big too.
I feel that India is really happening. Anything that's good will be successful. We have fashion shows all over the world and our music is making hits all over the world.

India is making its presence felt all over the world and it's opening new doors.

I got inspired to work in this industry years ago by my brother who was a director and by the famous actor Raj Kapoor. They made beautiful films.

I'm very happy and lucky. I believe my hard work is what has got me here as well as God's blessing. I have a company of my own and my children have good lives in the industry.

I have offices overseas too. We make two to three films a year and we are popular. My dream is to have my own studio and that's happening too.

KKKG - tell me about it.
These stars hadn't worked together before. We got them into the same film and gave it lots of gloss and glamour.

We spent a lot of money on it, but it was an emotional family drama which was very traditional and that's why it appealed. No film has come as close.

It cost 7 million to make but there were big profits from it - especially overseas.

How does Bollywood compare with Hollywood?
We have lots of talent but we don't have the know-how for special effects or ideas for scripts. Special effects will come and it's already starting to, but the new ideas are what we need to concentrate on.

Some have ripped Hollywood off.
That's taking the easy way out - it's a very bad and sad thing to do. They don't think of something new themselves but copy instead.

Why are Bollywood films popular among young people in the UK?
Young people love fashion, TV, films. They like the films, the music, and the language. People are also making things more overseas-friendly.

Young people are the deciding factor for any entertainment. We used to say if the ladies like it the movies will do well.

But now we say if young people like it then the film will be a hit!

Where do you see the industry going?
It will go far and will do wonders. People are starting to think globally and we are now subtitling films into English to get more audiences. I see a bright future for Bollywood!



 

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