So I watched the new @Netflix documentary #TheRomantics. I am very eager to see cradle-to-grave documentaries on key filmmakers, it gives us a sense of their work and the times they worked in. But #TheRomantics is just a four part corporate video by YRF.
It began quite innocently; in fact E1 is titled The Boy From Jalandhar traces quite quickly the journey from Punjab to Mumbai. Yash Chopra’s first film was in 1959 and his last was in 2012- so yeah that’s a long career. Maybe they are going to go movie by movie, I thought.
Alas! Minutes later we were in Daag-Deewar territory, pauses only mention about Dharmaputra- apparently a film which was a takedown on Hindu fundamentalism (yikes), set during the partition. Brave Yash ji is Brave! That’s when I woke up. Really. Wake up call 1️⃣ ⏰
All well and good but the doc fails to mention that Dharmaputra was a flop and Yashji did not wade into overt political themes for the rest of his career. A sign of people being yawned by filmmakers trying to push head-in- the-clouds secularism? Maybe?
Bhai! Wait, let’s just pause to talk about how he made the films right? Atleast Amitji must have something to add about Deewar right? Hmm Amitji says Yashji was a romantic (roll credits) on D sets too as he found ways to shoot roses even in intense scenes 🤷
Doc also puts Yash ji as one of the main shapers of the angry young man persona along with Salim- Javed. This needs to explained more, but Salim Khan who is in the doc barely gets any time to talk.
Wake up call number 2️⃣
This documentary is not about the filmmakers and the films but more about establishing how YRF is Bollywood and how Bollywood is YRF. Yes, India is Indira and vice versa types.
Why else would they rush from Deewar (73) to Darr (93) within half an hour of the first episode in 4 part documentary? This phase would cover Kabhi Kabhie, Silsila, Chandni & Lamhe- if this was a serious doc then there would be special episodes for each of these ‘classics’.
But doc is not interested in all that and doc is only interested in showing us an empty chair and hyping about how Adi Chopra has not given an interview in his lifetime. Much like a mob boss? No I mean…
So yeah! In 20 mins you will not be able to cover the nuances of any film, KJo drops in to say how Chandni is among his top five and how he preferred Yash ji over Bimal Roy, Dutt etc But doc doesn’t go beyond that, if at all there is some talk about his films -its about beauty
“Beautiful” “Yash ji heroines were beautiful” “So beautiful” The sarees- just beautiful” Guess someone on the internet can do a supercut of the number of times beautiful is used. Abbey yaar, what is this beautiful?
Wake up call number 3️⃣ was a very sad one. So like even in a four part netflix documentary Bollywood will not take the effort to tell us why a filmmaker is important or in the least tease us about his films to make us watch it?
If this is a feeling that I get, as someone who is familiar with Bollywood how is this going to be make those outside India take Yash ji seriously. That brings me to song and dance.
#TheRomantics as documentary reemphasizes on how the world should view India- land of Bollywood- land of love, song and dance. This is akin to how the west saw India as elephant, cow and snake charmers.
In fact Rishi Kapoor ji brings back these stereotypes about India, as to how we were seen as land of snake charmers and now seen as Bollywood song charmers. Atleast do they go into the effort of making songs? Not even one music director was interviewed for #TheRomantics
I used to think that Bollywood is deliberately surface level in its themes as to cater to a large section of the audience, but now realized these are not deliberate decisions, but the makers themselves are surface level & critics a bunch of yes people
No critic had the question as to why YRFs ‘eternal love’ stories always had an extramarital angle to it? Or why was it about two girls falling for the one man fantasy? Why is it that India’s culture reduced to color, marriage, song and dance and nothing spiritual?
Of course such questions are not possible in in-house productions like #TheRomantics , the credits of which include Uday Chopra. Which was wake up call number 5️⃣ – corporate video indeed.
A big part of the documentary also veers into Uday Chopra territory about how he himself is a standing testimony to how nepotism does not work in Bolly and people have to accept you. Guess this was something Bolly wanted to address , koi baat nahi
From E2 onwards its the Adi Chopra show and a big part of it is about DDLJ and its making. Here they go a little deeper- how everybody had fun on set while Adi worked, clash of the father and son and how DDLJ became the cash cow for YRF
Post creation of YRF it is just feature- benefit type of video we made Dhoom we introduced Ranveer Singh yeh-woh to borrow a common north Indian expression #yehwoh
Shockingly there was angle about how YRF saved India from the onslaught of foreign corporate movie houses – but luckily as with most things they don’t go deep enough.
Maybe that’s all there is to say about YRF and Bollywood, I shouldnt have expected much of a critical or cinematic analysis. should have just been happy with all the actors should have just been happy with the song and dance should have just been happy with Sridevi in chifon
should have been base level satisfied with the ever reticent Adi Chopra talking about how became more desi by throwing away all his rock music cassettes in order to ‘understand India’ Bhai maybe I should just check my expectations
But Bhai please don’t such things like redefined cinema and all and don’t substantiate your claims please 🙏 Thank you for reading. All screenshots are from the trailer of #TheRomantics which is now streaming on Netflix.