Yash Raj Films is arguably the biggest production company in the Hindi Film Industry. Started in 1970 by Yash Chopra, the company has had continued success throughout the years, producing a number of hit films. These films featured many different directors and have had some of the biggest stars as hero and heroine. YRF has also ventured into many different areas of film production, including distributing films, acquiring rights for classic movies, and producing their own DVDs, videos, and VCDs under the YRF Home Entertainment label. They also launched their own music label, Yash Raj Music. With the release of Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi right around the corner, we thought we would take a look at the history of this famed production house and their association with King Khan.
Yash Raj Films’ earliest ventures weren’t very successful. Even with big stars like Amitabh Bachchan, Rajesh Khanna, Shashi Kapoor, and Waheeda Rehman, their films didn’t cash in at the box office. They had a few successes, including Kabhi Kabhie, Noorie, and Chandni, but overall, they were struggling.
Their first major success was Darr, starring Sunny Deol, Juhi Chawla, and Shah Rukh Khan. Aamir Khan was originally considered for Shah Rukh’s role, but because it was a negative character, Aamir refused. Shah Rukh was a relative unknown, and he agreed to play the part. The movie went on to become a big success, mainly due to Shah Rukh’s portrayal of an unstable, obsessive stalker. He won rave reviews for his performance, and YRF was back on the right track.
In 1995, Yash Chora’s son, Aditya Chopra, directed his first film, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. He chose to cast Shah Rukh Khan, and a star daughter, Kajol Mukherjee, in the lead roles in his film. The success of the film was beyond anything even YRF could imagine. It became a major blockbuster, made Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol household names, and in fact it is still playing today, approximately 680 weeks after its initial release.
Soon enough, Shah Rukh Khan became a regular in Yash Raj Films’ stable. They went on to make a super successful Dil To Pagal Hai in 1997, with Yash Chopra as director, had another major hit in Mohabbatein, Aditya’s second directorial venture, and in 2004 there was Veer Zaara, a blockbuster directed by Yash Chopra. Yash Raj Films had other successful films during that time, including Saathiya, Hum Tum, Dhoom, Bunty Aur Babli, and Salaam Namaste, but it was their films with Shah Rukh Khan that seemed to bring in the most money.
Around 2005, Aditya Chopra generally took over YRF from his father, making the decisions on the films YRF would produce and who they would use in each film. It seemed initially that this was a great move, as Aditya would have the ideas that would attract the younger crowd of moviegoers. In 2005, YRF released Neal n Nikki, a very different film that one would expect from Yash Raj. It failed miserably. YRF followed up with Fanaa, Kajol’s comeback film after 4 long years, and Dhoom 2, a movie based more on style than on substance. Both films ruled the box office, and YRF regained top status.
In 2006/2007, YRF released six films. Five of the six films flopped. Kabul Express, Tara Rum Pum, Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, Laaga Chunari Mein Daag, and Aaja Nachle all failed at the box office. The only film that was successful was Chak De India, a film about field hockey that starred Shah Rukh Khan in the lead role, with 16 relatively unknown girls as the hockey team. It went on to become a blockbuster, and also the rage of the nation. Once again, a Shah Rukh Khan film ‘saved’ YRF.
YRF tried their luck again in 2008, with Tashan, Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic, Bachna Ae Haseeno, and Roadside Romeo. Three out of the four had no chance, failing in their first week of release. Bachna Ae Haseeno turned out to be a semi-hit, which could be considered a success for YRF.
December 12th, 2008 sees the release of Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, starring Shah Rukh Khan and newcomer Anushka Sharma. Aditya Chopra, who is directing a film again after 8 long years, is at the helm of this highly anticipated movie. Judging from the promos, it looks like it will at least be an interesting movie. And if it’s a big hit, can we conclude that YRF + SRK = guaranteed success?