Pamela Chopra, inspiration behind YRF, is no more

Yash Chopra and Pamela Chopra in the Dil To Pagal Hai credit title sequence. photo: Video Grab

Pamela Chopra, wife to the late Yash Chopra, passed away on April 20 in Mumbai. Mother to filmmaker and writer Aditya Chopra and filmmaker-actor Uday Chopra, and mother-in-law to Rani Mukerji, Pamela was 74 and had been in hospital for about 15 days for age-related issues.

A multifaceted woman, Pamela was Yash Chopra’s backbone and the inspiration behind his turning independent producer (after years of working udner his legendary brother, B.R. Chopra) and launching what is now Mumbai’s biggest production house, Yash Raj Films, in 1971. With Daag’s release date to touch 50 years on April 27, 2023, Pamela is affectionately remembered in YRF as well as by the industry.

Her first one-scene appearance on screen was with her husband in Dil To Pagal Hai (1997) during the credit titles and song, Ek duje ke vaaste, but she was recently seen extensively in the Netflix documentary on Yash Raj Films, The Romantics, in which she reiterated her well-known role in husband Yash branching out on his own from BR Films to form his own banner. In 2014, she had informed that a biopic and a book on her husband was in the offing.

Recently, she had expressed anxiety about how son Aditya would cope when she was not around. Happily, she passed away after seeing the huge comeback of her son as producer with Pathaan and also saw Mrs. Chatterjee Vs Norway, her daughter-in-law Rani’s film, doing well.

Originally a homemaker officially, Pamela was also the unofficial sounding-board for Yash Chopra’s thoughts all along, and vetted both his scripts and music as well. The late composer Laxmikant (-Pyarelal) once recalled how she would be an active part of the music sittings—the duo scored the music of Daag, were to do the still-born Gardish that Yash Chopra was to produce with Amitabh Bachchan and Parveen Babi as his second production, to be directed by his veteran editor Pran Mehra, and were the original choices for the music of Kabhi Kabhie.

Always fond of music and singing, Pamela made her singing debut under Rajesh Roshan in Doosara Aadmi (1977) with two songs, the popular Jaan meri rooth gayi (with Kishore Kumar) for Neetu Singh and the folk-based Angana aayenge saawariya (with Deven Verma) for actress Geeta Kak.

She later sang in Trishul, Noorie, Kaala Patthar, Nakhuda, Silsila, Faasle, Sawaal, Chandni, Lamhe, Aaina and Mujhse Dosti Karoge and Darr. From these, the songs, Main sasural nahin jaaoongi from Chandni, filmed on Sridevi, and Meri banno ki aayi baraat from Aaina were popular.

However, her last-rendered song, Ghar aaja pardesi (with co-singer Manpreet Akhtar) from Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge proved a big hit. Though essentially an untrained singer, Pamela thus had the distinction of singing for composers like Rajesh Roshan, Khayyam, Shiv-Hari, Dilip Sen-Sameer Sen and Jatin-Lalit. Khayyam also used her voice in two non-YRF films, Bazaar and Lorie.

In the 1990s, Pamela Chopra was also one of the judges in the YRF television reality show and music talent contest, Meri Awaaz Suno.

Her first official debut was as story writer for Kabhi Kabhie (1976), though she was also a part of the screenplay writers of Dil To Pagal Hai along with husband Yash and sons Aditya and Uday, and Tanuja Chandra.

Credited as a dress designer in Silsila and Sawaal, she also produced Aaina (1993), and was billed as co-producer or associate producer in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Dil To Pagal Hai, Mohabbatein, Mujhse Dosti Karoge, Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai and Veer-Zaara.

Yash Raj Films released an official statement as follows: “With heavy hearts, the Chopra family would like to inform that Pamela Chopra, 74, passed away this morning. Her cremation took place at 11 am today in Mumbai. We are grateful for your prayers and the family would like to request for privacy in this moment of deep sadness and reflection.”

As a mark of respect, the premiere of Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan, to be held at YRF Studios itself, was cancelled. Salman Khan is very close to the Chopras.



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