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French honour for Yash Chopra

Filmmaker Yash Chopra (right) toasts the crowd after being conferred the Officier de la Legion d’Honneur during a function at the French Embassy in New Delhi on Saturday. Looking on is French Ambassador to India Jerome Bonnafont.

Filmmaker Yash Chopra (right) toasts the crowd after being conferred the Officier de la Legion d’Honneur during a function at the French Embassy in New Delhi on Saturday. Looking on is French Ambassador to India Jerome Bonnafont.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: AFP

Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI: It was an honour befitting the “King of romance.” Bollywood filmmaker Yash Chopra was decorated with the prestigious Officier de la Legion d’Honneur (Officer of the Legion of Honour) by the French Ambassador Jerome Bonnafont at a special function here on Saturday.

Instituted in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte, the highest French distinction was conferredon Mr. Chopra in recognition of his contribution to Indian cinema.

After receiving the award, Mr. Chopra said: “It is a long, long journey that began more than 56 years ago. I used to walk barefoot on the streets of Jalandhar wondering whether I would ever be able to fulfil my dream. Then I landed in Mumbai and assisted my brother [B.R. Chopra.] He has been my friend and guardian as he taught me everything. I am missing him today because he cannot travel because of ill-health.”

Pointing out that every industry faces ups and downs, Mr. Chopra said that dark clouds keep appearing on the film firmament of Bollywood. “There is so much shock here that one needs company of friends and well wishers. I am thankful to my wife Pamela and sons Aditya and Uday who have stood by me through thick and thin.”

Stating that France had a rich cultural heritage of parallel cinema, the filmmaker said: “Besides producing revolutionary scripts, French directors have been acknowledged across the globe for their kind of cinema. It is indeed overwhelming to receive the award from the French government. I am honoured to be in the company of seasoned American filmmaker Steven Spielberg, French actor Gerard Depardieu and Indian film personalities like the legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray, actor Amitabh Bachchan and playback singer Lata Mangeshkar.”

‘Creative world’

Sharing his experience in Paris during the premiere of his cross-border love story “Veer Zaara” in 2006, Mr. Chopra said there was unprecedented security and a big commotion outside the theatre. “We were advised by the police not to come on time. Looking at the huge crowd bubbling with excitement I realised that Indian films have finally arrived in world cinema. I want to request the French government to screen their films with sub-titles and allow Hindi films to be screened in their country. I know that the Indian government is trying to sign a treaty with your country but that would only promote business. Cinema is a creative world and you must allow our films to reach out to French people.” Describing Mr. Chopra as a man of artistic sensibilities, Mr. Bonnafont said he had brought joy to the lives of millions of Indians through films that magnify love. “Besides tapping the talent of Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan you have also invested in the youth.”

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