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Tourism ambassador


Swiss honour Indian filmmaker Yash Chopra with statue


By Anand Chandrasekhar, Interlaken


Yash Chopra's statue flanked by his wife Pamela Chopra and actress Rani Mukerji (Anand Chandrasekhar)

Yash Chopra's statue flanked by his wife Pamela Chopra and actress Rani Mukerji

(Anand Chandrasekhar)

A statue of a renowned Indian filmmaker, the late Yash Chopra, was unveiled in Interlaken on Wednesday. Many of Chopra’s films featured Switzerland as a backdrop, and he is credited with boosting the popularity of the Alpine nation among Indian tourists.

The 350 kg statue, which now stands in Kurssaal Garden in the central Swiss town of Interlaken, canton Bern, is a replica of the one in Chopra’s film studio in Mumbai and was unveiled by his widow, Pamela Chopra. Chopra's daughter-in-law, the Bollywood actress Rani Mukerji – who also featured in his films, such as the highly successful Veer-Zara – also attended the ceremony. The event was organised by Interlaken Tourism and Jungfrau Railways. 

"He did some of the best work of his life here in Interlaken, " said Mrs. Chopra.

"It feels amazing that I am here with my daughter today," said Mukerji. "I really miss him."

Yash Chopra statue location

This is not the first time the filmmaker, who died in October 2012, has been honoured in this way. The government of Interlaken awarded him the honorary title of “Ambassador of Interlaken” in 2011, and Jungfrau Railways named a train after him – an honour shared only with the railway’s founder, Adolf Guyer. In addition, the five-star Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa in Interlaken named a suite after Chopra, where visitors can spend a night for CHF2,250 ($2,347). 

"Mr. Chopra played a very important part for the success of Switzerland and the Jungfrau region in India," said Urs Kessler, CEO of Jungfrau Railways.

King of romance

Chopra is credited with bringing romance back into Indian films during a period when action movies were ruling the roost. He first visited Switzerland during his honeymoon in 1970. His 1985 film Faasle was his first production to feature Swiss meadows and mountains. But it was his 1989 blockbuster Chandni that put Switzerland on centre stage. Almost half the song and dance sequences in the film had a Swiss backdrop.

However, for many Indian tourists visiting the country today, it is Chopra’s 1995 production Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge that is their Swiss point of reference. It ended up becoming the highest grossing Bollywood film that year and remains one of the most successful Indian films.

Chopra was keen on including a Swiss scene in his latest film, Jab Tak Hai Jan, which was meant to be a celebration of his 50 years as a filmmaker. But this could not be realised because he died from dengue fever before the sequence could be shot.

Switzerland remained his favourite overseas destination for filming. He was not a fan of cities and preferred to capture the Swiss countryside.

“It’s so peaceful, so romantic and so beautiful,” he told Indian news channel NDTV.

 

 

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