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They Said It... - A book on the making of Veer Zaara

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Courtesy: IndiaFM
Friday, September 21, 2007

Yash Chopra has been playing on-screen cupid for many. An eternal lover, he is rightly called as the 'King of Romance'. And his feather-light romantic Veer-Zaara stands as a testimony for the same!

One can relieve the making of this classic in the form of an exclusive collector's edition called 'They said it.." based on the making of the film Veer-Zaara. The book contains testimonials from almost every member of the film"s cast and crew.

Following are excerpts of some of his experiences from the making of Veer-Zaara that Yash Chopra shares in the book 'They said it.."

One day, Adi narrated 3 scenes to me. Entirely new and different. These had me gripped at once and I had immediately decided that this was my next film.. And Adi started work on this new story.. The scenes were the opening scenes of Veer – Zaara.

There was never any alternative for either Shahrukh or Rani.

The casting of “Zaara" needed some thinking.. I needed an actress who had an image completely different from Zaara"s character. She had to surprise the audiences. Instinctively, I wanted to try the unexpected.

Preity had earlier played modern, largely western looking characters, and had a youthful image. I decided to mould her into the character. We worked on tests with makeup costumes, jewellery.. the Zaara look that I had in mind. And after 3 tests, I knew I had my “Zaara".

The story and screenplay had a wide span of 22 years and creation of distinct ambiences. One – the Punjab in Indian, and the other – the Punjab now in Pakistan. It was a very intense and emotional romance, but beyond borders and boundaries.. rooted in traditions.

For me, it was a tribute to Punjab, my homeland. The cross border romance, while set in the two different countries had to have cinematic contrasts but at the same time, the underlying sentiment was that we are the same. We speak the same language; we imbibed the same culture, values and emotions. A fact exemplified in the song “Aisa des hai mera".

One of the biggest challenges in making Veer – Zaara was the creation of its music.

I heard a lot of leading composers of today, and, though, all are so talented, I found something missing, something did not click. I needed music with old world charm, tunes that traversed a 22 year time span, across two distinct ambiences of India and Pakistan, but most of all a very soulful and yet Indian feel to it.

One day, Sanjeev Kohli, the CEO of Yash Raj Films, was traveling with me in my car and I was expressing to him my dilemma of not getting the right composer for my film. He then mentioned to me that he had various tapes of unutilized tunes left behind by his father, the late composer, Madan Mohan. Sanjeev had worked with me for many years but he had never mentioned this to me before. He worked for a month or two and played us 30 tunes. We immediately reacted to 8 of these tunes and Adi and I knew we were on the right track.

The film remained untitled till the very end. This became a cause for speculation by all. Various titles were thought of. Including “Yeh Kahaan Aa Gaye Hum". We even did a song adapted to this, “Yeh Hum Aa Gaye Hain Kahaan", based on Madanji"s tune [this song was finally dropped from the film as it was retarding the pace of the court room scenes. A very difficult decision as it was one of our favourite tunes!!]

We decided that we title the film when we saw it in its entirety. And when we did, we all felt that we had created a new love legend, and thus in the tradition of “Heer Ranjha", “Laila Majnu", “Sohni Mahiwal", there could be no better title than “Veer – Zaara". The two legendary lovers.

I received a lot of appreciation for Veer – Zaara a lot of awards, including the National Award. But I knew I had touched chords in film lovers all over the globe when I saw tears in German eyes at the Berlin film festival, sobbing Dutch people at a festival in Amsterdam, and mod frenzy when the French version was premiered in France. Veer – Zaara did well all over the globe, but even more so in foreign territories.

I will always be grateful to my fans who have been so lavish in their praise and to the entire team who joined me in this effort.

In my heart, I know I gave this film my best, a tribute to Punjab and most of all to humanity.. Love transcends all borders, and for me love and romance will always prevail.

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