Veteran Hindi film-maker Yash Chopra has been chosen for the highest national award for a filmmaker - the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for 2001.

"His films are about love, romance and drama and the stars of his films become icons for film buffs. Chopra has been instrumental in tapping the potential of Indian films in the international market," Anjali Chib Duggal, joint secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting told The Phalke award carries a cash prize of $4,000

Born in 1932 in Jalandhar in Punjab, Chopra started his career as an assistant to his brother and went on to produce and direct films under his own production company Yash Raj Films (founded in September 1971) and other companies. The 70-year-old director has produced over 20 successful Hindi films including Dhool ka Phool, Waqt, Ittefaq, Deewar, Kabhi Kabhi, Trishul, Silsila, Chandni, Lamhe and Dil To Paagal Hai.

His films have won five national awards. Chopra's company has also distributed several recent blockbusters like DilWale Dhulaniyan Lejaynge, Mohabatein and Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham. "Films have been my only passion in life," Chopra told Screendaily, "I have always been proud of making films and will continue taking pride in all my films. I have never made a movie I have not believed in."

Yash Chopra's mentor and elder brother B R Chopra received the same honour in 1999. Meanwhile Yash Raj Productions is setting up a $12m modern film studio in Mumbai. The 200,000 sq feet studio will begin commercial production in 2004.