Born in Lahore, Chopra followed his brother E. R. Chopra into the world of cinema and in time assisted him and other directors such as I. S. Johar. He made his own directorial debut with Dhool Ka Phool (1959) and found sufficient success to develop his craft through a succession of popular dramas during the decade that followed, with films including the drama Waqt (1965).
His star rose higher still with a series of blockbuster movies, a cycle that began with Daag: A Poem of Love (1973) and continued through further hits such as Deewar (1975), Kabhi Kabhie (1976) and Trishnul (1978). Although his golden touch seemed to desert him during the 1980s, he bounced back with the cult favourite Chandni (1989) and with that film helped bring about a return to the musical traditions of Hindi cinema.
By now he was producing as well as directing movies through his company Yash Raj Films which would grow to be the biggest production company in Indian cinema. Over the course of his long career he was responsible for helping establish the careers of popular Bollywood stars including Amitabh Bachchan and later Shah Rukh Khan.
Later work includes films that continued to delight large domestic audiences while appealing to markets overseas for the first time, titles like Lamhe (1991, Darr (1993), Dil To Pagal Hai (1997), Veer-Zaara (2004) and his final film Jab Tak Hai Jan (2012).
Chopra’s movies were known for their big musical set pieces and exotic foreign locations, and this outward looking approach certainly helped broaden their international appeal. More recently Yash Raj Films has been involved in international co-productions that include the Grace Kelly biopic, Grace of Monaco (2014) among others.
In recognition of a career spanning five decades Chopra was recognised in 2006 with Honorary BAFTA Membership, the first such honour bestowed upon an Indian filmmaker.