SOAS University of London

SOAS pays tribute to Honorary Graduate Yash Chopra

23 October 2012
Yash Chopra

SOAS, University of London, pays tribute to our Honorary Graduate, the multi-award winning filmmaker Yash Chopra, who died over the weekend aged 80.

Chopra was awarded with a DLitt (Doctor of Letters honoris causa) from SOAS in July 2010, in recognition for his long contribution to Indian cinema. He also met with SOAS students and staff at a special alumni event An Audience with Yash Chopra, hosted by Professor of Indian Cultures and Cinema, Rachel Dwyer, who wrote the biography Yash Chopra: Fifty years in Indian Cinema, published by the British Film Institute.

On receiving his honorary degree, Mr Chopra told SOAS World, the alumni magazine:
"An award from your own country is one thing, but from an institution like SOAS, which is very prestigious, is a reward in itself…The relation between the students and professors is very friendly and open, with an element of trust in each other."

Paying tribute to Yashji, as he was fondly called, Professor Rachel Dwyer said:

"Yashji was known to the world as India’s leading filmmaker.  His films were about social issues as well as romance and he defined the modern Indian.  His boisterous Punjabi nature blended with the romance of Urdu and Hindi poetry making his film songs some of the most romantic and loved of all time.  Yash Chopra’s songs feature in wedding celebrations and religious festivals as much as on the dancefloor.  

"Although his schedule kept him busy, he always found time for students of Hindi cinema whether at SOAS or in India.  When one of my PhD students fell sick in Bombay, he sent not only a doctor but also someone to cook and clean for her!"

SOAS has also received tributes from our students and alumni, many of whom met Mr Chopra during his visits to the School. Deputy Head of Development and Alumni Relations, Zeba Salman, said:

"It was an honour to work with Yashji and welcome him to the SOAS alumni network in 2010. He kept in touch with us in the Alumni office, inviting me to the London sets of his soon to be released Bollywood movie, Jab Tak Hai Jaan (Until There is Life). Yashji was a kind and humble man, and romance in Indian cinema won't be the same without him – he will truly be missed."