At an inspiring and solemn graduation ceremony befitting the University of London, Mr. Yash Chopra was awarded an honorary higher doctoral degree, a DLit, a Doctor of Letters honoris causa, for having made an outstanding contribution to the field of cinema in his six decades of work in the Hindi film industry, by the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). The function held on Friday, 23rd July 2010, opened with an impressive procession, which included Heads of Departments, Senior Management and the Presidents of the Students’ Union, entering the Hall to a musical accompaniment. The Director and Principal of SOAS, Professor Paul Webley and The President of SOAS, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, welcomed the graduates and their guests. One of the highlight of the ceremony was the Presentation of an honorary doctorate to Mr. Yash Chopra. Professor Rachel Dwyer, the public orator, read a citation in tribute to Mr. Chopra and the President, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, presented the degree. Mr. Yash Chopra’s career and his work was compared with the greats of the Indian film industry. Professor Dwyer said that his films use a melodramatic form to show emotions at their deepest and rawest and that the dialogues and the song lyrics of Yash Chopra’s films are remembered and recited almost as mantras, as they describe things that are hard to say, using language, imagery and music in a perfect balance. She pointed out that Yash Chopra continues to innovate with every film he makes and remains young at heart, always interested in how people think, feel and behave.
Mr. Yash Chopra’s love of London and his connections with SOAS, one of the first universities to offer a course in mainstream Indian cinema, began in 1992. Professor Dwyer further said the graduates should be inspired by Mr. Yash Chopra’s success, learn his dedication, hard work, focus and his ways of rising above failure, saying that his films have brightened the lives of people from the poorest to the richest, from heads of states to humble people. He has been honoured by royalty, presidents and prime ministers and this DLit was a mark of the esteem in which the academic community of professors and students holds him. Mr. Chopra in his response said, "I am humbled by this honour and would like to thank SOAS for this recognition. My filmmaking has always been from the heart and I would like to pass on this same message to students all over the world". Mr. Yash Chopra has previously been conferred with an Honorary Doctorate by The Leeds Metropolitan University, UK in 2007, The Punjab University, Chandigarh, India, in 2008 and The Guru Nanak University, Amritsar, India, in 2004, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to Indian cinema.