50 years of Yash Raj Films: Five underrated films

Remembering YRF’s flop but critically acclaimed movies

Cinema

September 25, 2020

/ By / New Delhi

50 years of Yash Raj Films: Five underrated films

Titli was morbidly fascinating and is arguably the most raw, most hard-hitting film of the production house till date

Best known for the evergreen Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaenge, Yash Raj Films (YRF) has churned out over a dozen blockbusters since 1970. But few may know that YRF also produced a bunch of offbeat films that failed at the box office, but won critics’ approval.

From its first romantic drama, Daag: A Poem of Love, released in 1973 to their latest action thriller, Mardaani 2, featuring Rani Mukherjee as Shivani Roy, released in December 2019, Yash Raj Films has been producing gems for Indian cinema for over 50 years now.

Founded by late filmmaker Yash Chopra, YRF is best remembered for its spate of blockbusters like Kabhi Kabhie, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaenge, Dil Toh Pagal Hai, Mohabbatein, Hum Tum, the Dhoom franchise, Veer-Zara, Bunty Aur Babli, Chak De! India, Band Baaja  Baaraat, Sultan, War and most recently, Mardani series.

The production house, popularly known for its romantic dramas, has experimented with its offerings over the years, particularly when Aditya Chopra, son of Yash Chopra, took over. From women-centric dramas to stories set in small-town India, YRF has brought many a flavour to the big screen. However, in contrast to YRF’s mainstream movies like DDLJ, the offbeat films released under the banner didn’t find commercial success and remain underrated. Here are some of the offbeat movies produced by Yash Raj Films.

Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! (2015)

Late actor Sushant Singh Rajput starrer film, Detective Byomkesh Bakshy is an action thriller

Directed by Dibakar Banerjee, late actor Sushant Singh Rajput starrer film, Detective Byomkesh Bakshy is an action thriller.

The film unfurls a Calcutta of jostling shadows and splendid squalor, trams like filigree running across the city, costume balls, dentists’ halls where murders are committed with a violent slash. “Dibakar Banerjee adds cheeky global touches too, tracking shots evoking Fellini’s moving camera, action punching between Guy Ritchie and Quentin Tarantino,” says Anupama Chopra, a popular film critic.

Titli (2014)

Dibakar Banerjee, who was credited as the producer of debut director Kanu Behl’s Titli, was known for his eccentric slate, from his debut film Khosla Ka Ghosla to Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!, and from Love, Sex Aur Dhokha to Detective Byomkesh Bakshi, another YRF film. Naturally, the fact he was involved in a film would imply it is a conventional YRF release.

Titli was morbidly fascinating and is arguably the most raw, most hard-hitting film of the production house till date. It was a peek into the vicious cycle of patriarchy and how a woman has little space in a family dominated by men. Ranvir Shorey’s energy bounced off well along with the impressive newcomers Shivani Raghuvanshi and Shashank Arora.

Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year (2009)

Rocket Singh stars Ranbir Kapoor, D. Santosh and Naveen Kaushik in lead roles

Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year is a 2009 Indian comedy-drama film directed by Shimit Amin and produced by Aditya Chopra under the Yash Raj Films banner. It stars Ranbir Kapoor, D. Santosh and Naveen Kaushik in lead roles.

Film critic, Rachel Saltz of New York Times, a leading daily, called it a smart and focused Bollywood movie and commended Ranbir Kapoor for turning in a skilfully understated performance.

Many of the young entrepreneurs called it ‘Learning Bollywood Movie for upcoming Entrepreneurs’. The film was featured in Avijit Ghosh’s book, 40 Retakes: Bollywood Classics You May Have Missed. “Much has been made about the maturing of audience taste in multiplexed Bollywood in the last few years. This is one film where the audience fails the test,” writes Ghosh.

Black (2005)             

Black is the only winner of 11 Filmfare awards

The only winner of 11 Filmfare awards, Black, was directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali under Yash Raj Films. Based on the life of Helen Keller, a blind academic, it is heavily inspired from 1962 movie, The Miracle Worker. Black is the story of a blind and deaf girl, played by Rani Mukherjee and her teacher, Amitabh Bachchan, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, resulting in a total memory loss.

Becoming the second most successful Indian film overseas after Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaenge(1995), another Yash Raj Film, Black also featured in Time Magazine’s top 10 films in 2005. However, not many of Indian audiences went to theatres for watching Black.

Doosra Aadmi (1977)

Doosra Aadmi featured actress Raakhee as an advertising agency employee

Between the two landmark Yash Chopra romantic drams, Kabhi Kabhie and Silsila, came a film that escaped the limelight. Ramesh Talwar’s Doosra Aadmi featured actress Raakhee as an advertising agency employee (a rare working woman from that time) who falls for Rishi Kapoor’s character, who looks eerily similar to her late lover.

The casting of Rishi Kapoor and Shashi Kapoor was a masterstroke on part of YRF. But the film stood out the most for it was the first of YRF’s signature twist-of-fate films and was shouldered by actress Raakhee, playing a strong female character and did an amazing job in walking the tightrope between vulnerability and assertion.

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