I didn’t want to be Aditya Chopra’s clone-Uday Chopra
Admitting he’d never make it big in Bollywood, Uday Chopra goes to Hollywood, but not as actor
Chandrima Pal (MUMBAI MIRROR; August 5, 2012)
In a summer green shirt and faded denims, Uday Chopra is comfortable in his sprawling office that looks out to a carefully tended terrace garden. You sense it is a season of change — the gardeners are pruning the rambunctious monsoon plants while the scion of one of Bollywood’s most influential families is chipping away at his new role as CEO of Yash Raj Entertainment (YRE).
He’s heading the banner’s international film producing and financing subsidiary that’s working with Olivia Wilde, Nicole Kidman and Olivier Dahan of La Vie En Rose fame. He has just launched a comic book label called Yomics (“pronounce it y-yomics; there is a nice lilt to it”) that draws from characters of famous Yash Raj films, while he continues to be occasional actor in films like the Dhoom franchise.
“Of the three, acting will remain my first love. But it has taken a back seat,” says Chopra, who hasn’t been a favourite with the box office. “There came a point when I had to be realistic. I knew I would never really hit stardom or make a successful career out of acting. I had to change tracks,” he says.
It was five years ago, during a casual chat with older brother Aditya Chopra, that the idea of creating a presence in the “world’s most competitive film industry” was born. “We knew we wanted to do something in Hollywood, but didn’t know how. It was impossible for Aditya to shut shop and move to LA. I could have done it, but I wasn’t ready then.”
Significant flops (Neal ‘n’ Nikki, Pyaar Impossible), and a heartbreak later (he dated actress Tanisha Mukherjee for two years), Chopra was left with two options. “I could go behind the scenes, and turn filmmaker. Or do something radical.” The first option was ruled out, considering father Yash Chopra and Aditya’s towering legacy.
“I didn’t want to be Aditya Chopra’s clone. At best, I would have been another Aditya Chopra. That may be great for a
lot of people, but not for me,” he says with startling honesty.
Chopra’s decision to start from scratch in 2010 — he began by signing up for a film course at the University of California, Los Angeles, before launching YRE — was met with resistance. “My father thought I was mad,” he smirks. “In LA, no one knows YRF. They might agree to grant you one meeting. But the brand does not open doors the way it does here.”
Clinching his first deal for The Longest Week was tough for someone who had no idea how to make a perfect pitch. But that seems to have changed. Hear him speak about how he managed to secure the script for Kidman-starrer Grace of Monaco in the face of furious bidding, and you know he has come of age.
The candour wanes when we speak of Nargis Fakhri, though. “She is a friend. And no, she is not doing a film with us. I keep my professional and personal circles apart,” he says of the actress he’s been spotted with repeatedly.
“I am happy,” says the 39-year-old as we prepare to wrap up. “Equations have changed, even within this office. People treat with me with a lot more respect.”
- Aamir Khan, Salman Khan in a cameo in Phata Poster Nikhla Hero?
- I can’t handle screaming and shouting-Sonam Kapoor
- Nargis Fakhri to lecture at her New York college
- Sushant Singh’s dreams of working in YRF venture shattered
- There is something for every cinephile at 66th Cannes Film Festival
- How come me & Sasheh were not linked?-Arjun Kapoor
- I still get angry even today-Sunny Deol
- Aurangzeb’s story irks Delhi based construction company
- Shraddha’s decision to drop Aurangzeb for Aashiqui 2 turns the scales for her
- 80-films-old Prithviraj made to audition for the first time for Aurangzeb