The Romantics, a series on the history of Yash Raj Films (YRF) and which looks at the memorable films made by Yash Chopra and Aditya Chopra, was released today on Netflix. The first episode throws light on the tough times faced by YRF before the release of Chandni (1989) and brings forth some not-so-known and fascinating trivia.
The Romantics: Yash Chopra talks about the STRUGGLES he faced while releasing Chandni: “One distributor refused to release the film. A lot of messages were passed that ‘Another flop is coming. Don’t give them theatres”
The 80s was a time when action films were in vogue. Yash Chopra’s Silsila (1981) had underperformed and so did Faasle (1985). To fit in, Yash Chopra made a multi-starrer film, Vijay (1988). Anil Kapoor, who was in the film, can be heard saying in the series, "It was like a rehash of all his old films. He said 'Let me make a very hardcore commercial film, with song, dance, a little bit of sex thrown here and there, bikini shots and conflict scenes." He added, "During the making of the film, I could feel that he was creatively enjoying the process. Even I didn't enjoy it. I think none of us were enjoying the process."
An old interview of Yash Chopra with Karan Johar is played at this point in The Romantics wherein he stated, "I made a very calculated commercial decision. I can't say this film was from my heart". He also said that when he was making Vijay, he asked himself, "What am I doing? Where has the softness inside me gone?"
As luck would have it, Vijay also bombed. Yash Chopra then said, "Our industry had reached a saturation point of violence. I said, 'Okay, I'll do the biggest gamble of my life. Whatever happens, I won't make a film with a formula. I'll make a film which touches my heart." Thus was born Chandni.
Rishi Kapoor revealed that he was approached to do the film when he was working on Vijay. The master filmmaker admitted that though he had not seen Sridevi’s work, he decided to cast her after Amitabh Bachchan showed him her Tamil film, Moondram Pirai (1982).
At this point, Anil Kapoor opened up that since Yash Chopra was feeling quite low due to back-to-back flops, he asked Boney Kapoor to help him cast Sridevi. Boney flew to Chennai and got the work done. Anil remarked, "It didn't matter to (Sridevi’s mother) who is Yash Chopra, who has made such great films. It was just the money, you know!"
Yash Chopra’s lovely Pamela Chopra then said that Sridevi was not happy wearing white in most of the scenes as she felt it looked “dull”. Sridevi’s mother complained that “White is not considered festive in our community”! Meanwhile, a critic pointed out to Yash Chopra how come there’s Vinod Khanna in the film and yet, there’s no action. He also complained that there are no highlights in the film. Yash Chopra replied, "If you think a fight is a highlight, I feel a song is a highlight. It's a bigger highlight because a song remains with you after you go out of the theatre."
However, the bigger challenge was that YRF had no money and had taken bank overdraft. Rishi revealed that had Chandni not worked, Yash Chopra might have shut down YRF. On top of it, the industry’s reaction after the film’s premiere was “tepid and lukewarm”, as revealed by Karan Johar in The Romantics. People complained that it was “too long, too many songs” and that it is “not a commercial film”. Yash Chopra also informed viewers that a distributor refused to release the picture after these reports came out. "A lot of messages were passed that 'Another flop is coming. Don't give them theatres'," said Yash Chopra.
However, the audience whole-heartedly Chandni. It became a smashing hit and brought back the era of romance in Bollywood. Karan Johar smilingly quipped, "It had gone against what the entire trade had predicted."
More Pages: Chandni Box Office Collection
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