So I binge-watched The Romantics on Netflix. The girl who barely stays awake after 11 PM was up till 2 at night to watch a documentary!
The reasons are many. But primarily because it took the girl back to the heyday of Bollywood (or should I say the Hindi Film industry) which she grew up on, feeding on the hopeless romance, and the mellifluous songs that are still very much a part of her playlist.
Aditya Chopra -The star of the show
The document series supposedly a tribute to Yash Chopra has many high points but the one person who outshined everyone and everything else was the famously elusive director Mr. Aditya Chopra. He is undoubtedly the main star of the show. The ever-evasive man was a revelation with his well-articulate and engaging appearance. His thoughts, ambition, and business senses are not to be missed. One thought from him that particularly stayed with me was his acceptance that he came with many privileges and if he does not take it to new heights there is no meaning to his work.
Fun fact: In the younger days Adi was the best dancer who defeated Hrithik Roshan in all competitions!
SRK – The enigma
Then there was one only SRK taking us down the memory lanes of Darr and DDLJ.
The sweet anecdotes of how he signed DDLJ, or how the famous kkk..kiran was conceived were endearing. Also, I do not think any other actor would dare to confess on camera that his character in Darr was problematic Or he should have been jailed in the current time for propagating such violent love. (Is Kabir Singh listening?)
Someone had rightly said if Yash Chopra was the heart of YRF, Aditya Chopra the brain, then SRK was their backbone. The latest blockbuster Pathan is an apt example. No doubt a well-earned center stage was given to SRK who added much warmth, comfort, and intimacy that the show needed.
The nepotism Row
While the show had an ensemble cast from Mr. Bachchan, the three khans to Ranveer Singh, SRK’s screen time was followed by that of Karan Johar. Abhishek Bachchan and Hrithik Roshan added nice personal touches. However, it was KJo’s strong creative bond with the present YRF head that added a wholesome flavor to the narrative.
And while we are discussing KJo how can the big, N-word be ignored? Nepotism. Aditya takes on the bull of this controversy by horns. He was very candid as he took the example of none other than his brother Uday Chopra. He said, “My brother is an actor and he’s not a very successful actor. Now, here is the son of one of the biggest filmmakers, he’s the brother of a very big filmmaker. Imagine a company like YRF, which has probably launched the most newcomers, and we could not make him a star.”
Talking about Uday Chopra I think he speaks better than he acts (what was that accent thing by the way!)
It was a brave attempt to justify how things work in the industry. However, what followed this was when I felt the show faltered a little.
The first episode showed the ascent of Mr. Yash Chopra and runs us through important milestone films like Dhool ka phool or Dharmaputra which are so relevant even today and much different from what we know YRF for. It spans over the next few years till another milestone movie Chandni (I think Sridevi if alive would have been a wonderful addition to this series). The second episode was my favorite which introduces the much reluctant, camera-shy Aditya Chopra and gave us a nostalgic tour through making DDLJ. I liked the way he dissected one of my favorite movies, Lamhe, and why the cult movie was rejected by the audience at that time and I was so agreeing.
From the next episode onwards, however, the agenda was clearer. It upholds the values of YRF as the stepping stone for newcomers, especially from non-film backgrounds both as actors and director-producer. While I am not denying any facts presented but it seemed a little forced jarring the smooth narration. Till that point, we were celebrating cinema and the process of filmmaking but the journey onward was a sort of clarification to the #BoycottBollywood gang.
Music of YRF
Another criticism that I may present was where were the musicians, and the singers. The music of YRF films was their heart and soul. This for me is the biggest letdown. They referred to the song and dance, and some songs and musical bits were covered as montages, but no music director, lyricist, or singer community was interviewed. A small appearance of Vishal Dadlani did nothing to showcase the grand library of music they had treasured through decades.
Another grouse, one of the best parts of YRF was the aesthetic sense in which Chopra presented women in the film. I do not know why those heroines were given so little space in the whole series. I wanted to hear more from Madhuri, and Kajol. And Preity Zinta was completely forgotten. Also the better half of Aditya Chopra the effervescent Rani Mukherjee was quite dull in her speech. Anushka Sharma and Bhumi Pednekar did a much better contribution in comparison
But all said and done Smriti Mundhra did a great job. And there was much to absorb from the nostalgic and impassioned tribute to Hindi cinema, a celebration of the industry. Indeed Ye Lamhe, Ye Pal Hum, barso Yaad Karenge.