Cast: Yash Chopra’s Wide Spread Family!
Creator: Smriti Mundhra.
Director: Smriti Mundhra.
Streaming On: Netflix.
Language: English (with subtitles).
Runtime: 4 Episodes Around 60 Minutes Each.
The Romantics Review : What’s It About:
A four-part docu-series, The Romantics is a look back into the legacy created by the legendary Hindi filmmaker Yash Chopra. The beginning of his career, his rise, his failures, and the creation of the iconic Yash Raj Films.
The Romantics Review : What Works:
The first frame of the docu-series that celebrates the man who taught us how to cinematically love describes Romantic as Imaginative but impractical and that is the point you take off. Yash Chopra wasn’t just a filmmaker to happened to be making films for the Hindi diaspora but a legend who took the flag to give this industry a new direction in his hands and walked as swiftly as he could so the filmmakers of today could run.
Think of Yash Chopra and say the first few images that come to your mind. For the majority, it could be Sridevi dancing in the picturesque land in her yellow chiffon saree or Shah Rukh Khan romancing Juhi Chawla in that beautiful dream sequence of a song. No one could have ever thought cinema could teach people how to fall in love and grind for it, but Chopra made it his life motto to do so. But was he just limited to that? The Romantics that now streams on Netflix captures just that and what exactly the legendary filmmaker was.
Creator Smriti Mundhra who sets out to tell this story for over three years and interviews some 35 celebrities in the process, tries to capture the mind of the man more than what the audience has already consumed. Yes, Yash Chopra made escapist cinema where the elites were the top-tier ones and their flooring was often of velvet. But that didn’t mean the filmmaker was cut off from what was happening in real-time. The docu-series makes sure it captures the ideology of the filmmaker who was a complete liberal at heart and wanted the world to progress towards a modern approach.
The fact that his cinema was decorated with the lace of escapism and commercial elements was at the core of it his political ideology is the biggest learning The Romantics will give you. The fact that the most iconic cinema character ‘The Angry Young Man’ played by the legendary Amitabh Bachchan could be our hero who fights goons with his smirk and attitude that is arrogant but likable. But for Chopra, that character was the embodiment of the voices that were not being heard or suppressed in the time of emergency implied by the then PM late Indira Gandhi. Or even the fact that he managed to take a dig at Hindi fundamentalism and the partition with his early film Dharamputra is fascinating.
Once you catch this streak you can kind of connect all his directorial projects to the same thread. They were all about love, relationships, infidelity, and complex dynamics between them, or even the one that spoke about the partition, they all had his ideology of being a liberal man. The biggest observation one can make is the fact that the filmmaker was brave to be sitting in the center of the system and daring to say what he wants to. Another name in the period who could do so was the iconic Gulzar Sahab, but his brand was considered more of the Art House Cinema.
The documentary restrictedly but very smartly also captures his personal life. How his wife Pamela Chopra, fondly addressed as Pam by the industry folks was a pillar to him. The fact that her entry into Yash Chopra’s life changed the way he treated the women in his movie by a large margin shows how beautiful a relationship the two shared. Pamji wrote Kabhi Kabhie, the most complex film in her husband’s filmography.
Also, how can one not talk about Aditya Chopra coming out of his camera hibernation and probably giving his first full-length interview? He talks about the need for a studio and his entry into the world of cinema. It is fascinating to see how clever a mind he has been building since a very young age. He addressed nepotism and Smriti Mundhra with her direction does manage to also take a dig at the same (you will see). But the fact that everyone in the frame is accepting of the fact that it is a true phenomenon but also honest that it can only give you your debut at Max makes the whole experience better.
The Romantics Review : Star Performance:
It’s a documentary, folks!
But yes, you have to be attentive every time Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Kapoor grace the screen because the Chandni star has the best one-liners to drop. Hilarious. Also, King Khan manages to charm and scale his journey with Yash Chopra so beautifully.
The Romantics Review : What Doesn’t Work:
How can one create a docu-series about Yash Chopra, talk about his ideology and his gest to translate it on screen while also entertaining and not talking about Veer Zaara at length? That was a film that changed the grammar of cross-border stories for our generation. Yes, there was a Gadar but nothing as tender and moving as the SRK-Preity Zinta starrer.
The Romantics Review : Last Words:
The Romantics is an ode to the man who defined Hindi cinema for decades and even died with his director’s hat on. Yash Chopra is a legend and as he says at the end of this series, we will remember him Jab Tak Hai Jaan, Jab Tak Hai Jaan, Jab Tak Hai Jaan.
For more recommendations, read our Cinema Marte Dum Tak Review here.
Must Read: Jehanabad – Of Love & War Review: A Doomed Love Story That Walks A Path Filled With Loopholes
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