The creator is dead, long live his dream  

Yash Chopra’s last directorial, Jab Tak Hai Jaan, also opened on November 13, 2012, exactly a month after his death on October 12. At his chautha, Shah Rukh Khan recalled the suddenly emotional filmmaker telling him after the climax shoot in Ladakh that this was his last shot.
Last Updated 02 March 2024, 00:13 IST

A year ago, on March 9, Satish Kaushik succumbed to a heart attack in Gurugram. But he left behind a part of himself, a passion project he had completed and even edited before his untimely death. Eight days before his first death anniversary, driven by his wife Shashi, nephew Nishant and producers, Ganesh and Ratan Jain, Kaagaz 2 released in the theatres like Satish had wished. It had upset him that Kaagaz, which he directed, had to come on OTT because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, the actor, who was also the film’s creative director and producer, wasn’t around to see Kaagaz 2 play on the big screen. Nor was actor Joy Mukherjee, whose Love in Bombay, which he produced and directed in 1971, finally released on August 2, 2013.

Joy had even censored the romcom but couldn’t raise the money to release it in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. His son Monjoy Mukherjee had urged him to sell it to a satellite channel and recover his investment, but he hung on to the negatives which Monjoy discovered in cold storage, after his father’s demise on March 9, 2012. He had them cleaned, colour corrected and upgraded the sound. Finally Love in Bombay, starring Joy, his uncles, Ashok Kumar and Kishore Kumar, Waheeda Rehman and Rehman, was unveiled after 42 years, completing a trilogy after ‘Love in Shimla’ and ‘Love in Tokyo’.

Yash Chopra’s last directorial, Jab Tak Hai Jaan, also opened on November 13, 2012, exactly a month after his death on October 12. At his chautha, Shah Rukh Khan recalled the suddenly emotional filmmaker telling him after the climax shoot in Ladakh that this was his last shot. The actor reminded him they still had to complete the title song in Switzerland, but the veteran reiterated, “Last shot hai. Picture khatam.” The film was released without shooting the last one-and-a-half minutes of the ‘Jab tak hai jaan’ song. It was a blockbuster and few realised it was incomplete or the implications of the title.

However, it was evident to all that K Asif’s dream had died with him when a disjointed, cut-paste version of ‘Love and God’ arrived on May 27, 1983. It was a pale shadow of the Laila-Majnu adaptation that the ‘Mughal-e-Azam’ director had conceived almost a quarter of a century ago, without even the grandiose vision of heaven in the climax where the star-crossed lovers unite which had been its USP.

In retrospect, one could say that the film was jinxed from the start, rolling in 1963 with Guru Dutt, then was on the path of self-destruction, convinced he wouldn’t make a convincing Majnu. He died, presumably by suicide, the following year, on October 10, and shooting halted for five years. Nimmi’s Laila found a new Majnu, Sanjeev Kumar. But barely a year later, on March 8, 1971, K Asif bid the world adieu.

Another 14 years passed before shooting resumed with Sanjeev Kumar looking fighting fit and 20 years younger after a bypass surgery in the US. According to an age-old superstition, death comes in three, and a second heart attack took the actor away on November 6, 1985. Determined to release the film, Asif’s wife, Akhtar, who had stepped in as producer, along with KC Bokadia who presented it, got Sudesh Bhosle to dub Sanjeev Kumar’s portions and his duplicate stand in for him in the remaining scenes and even a song. She even incorporated some of Guru Dutt’s shots to stitch together a love story which is remembered today more for these tragedies than its cinematic splendour.

The only consolation is the film saw the light of the day. Jaana Na Dil Se Door remains the only Dev Anand starrer which while complete was never sold. After the demise of Chetan Anand on July 6, 1997, the actor approached his younger brother who’d directed him in Bullet 20 years ago, and helmed Main Tere Liye for his banner Navketan in 1988, to join hands with him for a film dedicated to their Bhaiji. Vijay Anand immediately agreed to write, direct and produce the film, if Dev surrendered to him completely. Jaana Na Dil Se Door was launched in 1998 with Indrani Mukherjee in a double role of mother and lookalike daughter, who suddenly arrives in her father’s — Dev playing his age — life after 20 years. Vijay Anand passed away on February 23, 2004, leaving behind a lifetime of memories and an unreleased film.

It was a happier conclusion for Don. Amitabh Bachchan, Zeenat Aman, Pran and director Chandra Barot had collaborated on the film to help out choreographer-turned producer Nariman Irani who’d incurred huge debts on his last film, Zindagi Zindagi. However, before it was complete, Irani died in an accident on the set. Don released quietly on May 12, 1978 and was written off as a flop. But after the addition of a song, Khaike paan Banaraswala, collections picked up and  it became a blockbuster, helping Irani’s widow clear off all debts. That’s showbiz where no matter what, the show always goes on… 

(Published 02 March 2024, 00:13 IST)

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