The series begins with actor Shah Rukh Khan explaining that he comes from humble beginnings, and so his family didn't have a TV. So kids from the neighborhood used to congregate in a nearby house that had a television every Sunday to watch a Bollywood film on a state-run channel called Doordarshan. Rani Mukherjee further elaborates that the TV channel used to run black-and-white films of old that mesmerized her. This was the small start of the meteoric popularity that Bollywood would eventually achieve in the country, and this docuseries tells that tale by centering everything around the maestro of Bollywood films, Yash Raj Chopra, and his legacy.
The first scene of this dazzling docuseries begins with a montage of throbbing and mesmerizing Bollywood dance and songs as various big-name Bollywood stars get ready for their interviews. It's a prelude to things that will come. A sort of explanation of what the entire series is all about. From mapping out what came before the Yash Chopra revolution to charting what makes Aditya Chopra different, this detailed series comprising just 4 episodes does it all.
The series explains the working-class background that Mr. Chopra came from and how he started his career making films for his brother before transitioning over to his own studio, Yash Raj Films. But it's not a tale of happiness and success all around. The series smartly shows us the struggles, stress, and uncertainty that the prolific director had to face in his career. It also juxtaposes and parallels his son's career as a director with his father. For example, both of them encountered a lukewarm response from producers or writers and actors for their first films before they went on to become megahits.
It’s admirable that the series also explains the socio-political background of the country in which the two directors are making their films. From the Partition to the current debate on nepotism, the series touches point with the major incidents that shaped the country. Moreover, the last episode does an immense job of highlighting the competition that Bollywood is facing from the west. It begins ominously with Amitabh Bachchan detailing an incident about meeting an executive of Warner Bros in America and being warned about the Americans coming to take away Bollywood’s throne.
The episode accurately dissects the current state of the film industry and how Yash Raj Films and Aditya Chopra are tackling that western threat. While the series is gripping and informative, it also comes across as too polished and artificial. The bevy of Bollywood stars, writers, and critics who sit down for the interview is often all praise for the Chopras with little to no criticism of them. As such, it often comes across as fake. However, that’s to be expected in a docuseries that’s all about celebrating the legacy of the major directorial family.
Overall, The Romantics is a series that will enthrall any admirer of Bollywood. It will let them know about the past, present, and future of one of the most beloved filmmaking industries in the country.
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