Yash Chopra directed 22 movies in his 50-year-long career, from Dhool Ka Phool in 1959 to Jab Tak Hai Jaan in 2012. Along the way, he gave Bollywood some of its best remembered screen characters. Almost none of the characters Yash Chopra created were typically Bollywood. In their own ways, they changed ideas about how a leading man or lady should behave.
Vijay Verma, Deewar, 1975: The film and the role that truly established Amitabh Bachchan as the Angry Young Man. Zanjeer, directed by Prakash Mehra, may have introduced him two years earlier but it was as the embittered brother turned smuggler that the Angry Young Man really came into his own. It was also one of many Vijays that Amitabh Bachchan was to play in his own long career. Vijay, who starts out as a boot polisher and ends up a powerful criminal, was among the early flawed, tragic heroes that Yash Chopra would make famous.
Anita, Deewar, 1975: Equally explosive was Parveen Babi's character Anita. Anita drinks, smokes, has pre-marital sex and falls pregnant outside wedlock. In doing so, she shatters existing Bollywood stereotype of the "heroine" by indulging in activities previously left to the vamps. Anita signaled the advent of the "modern woman" of Bollywood, and helped Parveen Babi make the cover of Time magazine the next year.
Amit Malhotra, Kabhi Kabhie, 1976: Romance lay closest to Yash Chopra's heart. He created Amit Malhotra, played by Amitabh Bachchan, as a young poet who turns to commerce and an arranged marriage after his college sweetheart marries someone else. Amitabh Bachchan's famous baritone was put to good use reciting Sahir Ludhianvi's poetry.
Vijay Kumar, Trishul, 1978: Another of the many Angry Young Vijays that Amitabh Bachchan played, the illegitimate son of a construction tycoon who grows up bent on revenge by destroying his father's business and isolating his family. This Angry Young Vijay does not use his fists, but his business acumen and ruthless instincts.
Amit Malhotra, Silsila, 1981: Amitabh Bachchan played a second Amit Malhotra in what was to be the defining film in Yash Chopra's career. This Amit, a writer, sacrifices his own romance when his brother is killed, leaving behind a pregnant fiancée. Amit marries his brother's fiancée but, some years later, is thrown together with his old girlfriend, now married herself. Amitabh Bachchan's real-life wife Jaya played his screen wife, and rumoured real-life girlfriend Rekha played the 'other woman.'
Chandni, Chandni, 1989: A white-sari clad Sridevi was established as the nation's sweetheart after playing the object of two men's affections. The movie reinforced Sridevi's position as the reigning actress in Bollywood. It was also one of the rare mainstream films which was centred around the heroine rather than the hero or, in this case, heroes.
Rahul, Darr, 1993: Shah Rukh Khan played the obsessed lover-turned-violent-stalker in one of the early hits in his career. His character is best remembered for a stutter when he says the name of his beloved.
Rahul, Dil Toh Pagal Hai, 1997: Shah Rukh Khan and the name Rahul became as closely associated as Amitabh Bachchan and Vijay. In Dil Toh Pagal Hai, Rahul is a manufacturer of romantic musicals who does not believe in love, but finds himself falling in love with his lead actress.