The Romantics(documentary, Netflix 4 episodes)
Everyone who gets to speak about the wonderful Yash Chopra in the hagiographic documentary on Yash Chopra—The Romantics on Netflix in four episodes—loves him to death. His death. Poor Yash Chopra, Yashji to one and all, shocked everyone by dying suddenly after catching a dengue fever.
The love and adoration for the man who chiselled out some of the most romantic films of our time,is incomparable. Everyone loves Yash Chopra,so do I. Whenever I met him he stuck me as genuinely humble and gracious.
“I know I am taking up too much of your time,” he interjected as he held forth passionately on his cinema when we met for the first time when I was a nobody.
His dedication to making films he believed in was incomparable, and his aesthetic sense was beyond anything we’ve seen in commercial Hindi cinema.
But was he one of the all-time great filmmakers, on a par with Mehboob Khan, Raj Kapoor, Guru Dutt or even Yash Chopra’s brother B R Chopra?
The documentary makes only passing references to the great Baldev Raj Chopra about whom Yashji had once told me, “Everything I know about cinema I learnt from him.” The Romantics would have us believe that Baldev Raj or no, Yash Raj was bound to happen.
With due respects, this is not the case. Many believe that Yash learnt filmmaking watching his elder brother direct classics such as Kanoon, Naya Daur, Sadhana and Gumrah.When Yash decided to break away from his brother’s fold an as independent filmmaker ,B R Chopra was heartbroken. With him, Yash took away a lot of BR’s creative energy.
Interestingly,in The Romantics Yashji , in a clipping from an old interview with the unabashed Yash Chopra fan Karan Johar, tells us that it was during his honeymoon that he decided it was time to break away from his brothers.
One doesn’t need great powers of calculation to know what must have happened.
The 4-part documentary has nothing new to offer except an on-camera interview with the super-reclusive Aditya Chopra who tells us why it is important to watch other filmmakers’ works and how, at an impressionable age, he threw away all his Western video tapes and cassettes, as he didn’t want to become “one of them.”
We get to see actors tripping over one another with panegyrics. But do we really get to know Yash Chopra in The Romantics?
The answer is a sad no.