A first on The Romantics: Aditya Chopra on camera

The Romantics, a four-part documentary produced by Yash Raj Films and directed by Oscar-nominated and now Emmy-nominated Smriti Mundhra, is an ode to the life of Yash Chopra and Yash Raj Films. The Netflix series documents the highs and lows of Yash Chopra, his family, the divergent careers of his sons, and his lasting impact on the Hindi film industry. Daughter of director-producer  Jag Mundhra, Smriti Mundhra pulls one out of the hat, interviewing on camera the media-reclusive scion of the Yash Raj family, director-producer  Aditya Chopra

A Story of survival, success, and great promise

The Boy from Jalandhar

The first episode chronicles the early years of Yash Chopra. Through a series of interviews and snippets, we see how he worked as an assistant director for his older brother B.R. Chopra and later made his directorial debut with Dhool ka Phool (1959). He rose to prominence with the success of  Waqt (1965). The episode also details how the socio-political environment impacted him and his films. We get to see what led to the birth of the “angry young man” with Deewaar (1975). The episode ends with the making of Chandni (1989), starring the iconic late Sridevi

Prodigal Son

In the second episode, we are introduced to the famously reclusive Aditya Chopra who gives his first extensive interview for the series. Aditya Chopra began his career as the assistant director in blockbusters like Chandni, Lamhe (1991), and Darr (1993).  

His childhood friends, Abhishek Bachchan, Hrithik Roshan, Karan Johar,  and brother Uday Chopra reveal Aditya Chopra’s penchant for detailed note-taking and scripts. From here on, this episode primarily focuses on the making and the incredible success of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge or DDLJ(1995). 

The New Guard

In this episode, Aditya Chopra and Uday Chopra address the issues of nepotism, the changing landscape of Indian cinema, and the audience’s expectations. We see young Aditya Chopra taking over the reins of Yash Raj Films.


As Hollywood comes knocking, Aditya Chopra solidifies and builds YRF studios. While Yash Chopra’s death sends shockwaves through the industry, we see YRF stepping out of the tight-knit family and supporting new directors.

Star-studded gets a new definition

This image is a poster for the Netflix series, "The Romantics". It shows the partial side profile of a woman in a yellow saree walking out of the poster with her saree veil flying in front of a collage of Hindi film posters. (Image Courtesy: IMDB)
“The Romantics” poster (Image Courtesy: IMDB)

Mundhra, with YRF on board,  has redefined what it means to be star-studded. Amitabh Bachchan, late Rishi Kapoor, Neetu Kapoor, Shah Rukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit, Hrithik Roshan, Ayushmann Khurrana – the cast includes YRF  stars over generations. Each of them reminisces about how a certain movie (or movies) was made and what it was like to have worked for YRF. 

A brief history of Hindi cinema

Movies and cricket are the lifeblood of Indian entertainment. This documentary gives a crash course on how Hindi cinema evolved. Mundhra also asks questions about some popular annoyances like the use of the term “Bollywood” for the Hindi film industry and about the more serious debate raging around nepotism in the industry. 

Though most stars unequivocally said they hated the term Bollywood – a portmanteau of Mumbai’s former name, Bombay, and Hollywood –  a few seemed unaffected by it.

On nepotism, Aditya Chopra speaks about his brother, Uday Chopra, who had everything going for him – son and brother of hugely successful filmmakers, with many connections in the industry. Yet, he didn’t see much success as an actor. 

Food for thought

At this point, I did pause to think. The nepotism debate has been raging for the past few years. But I feel that the issue isn’t all black and white. Shah Rukh Khan, for example, one of India’s biggest stars ever,  had no Bollywood- pedigree, and yet reached the pinnacle of stardom. But for every Shah Rukh Khan, there are countless other talents lost in anonymity. On the flip side, for every failed Uday Chopra, there is a successful star kid like Hrithik Roshan. 

So what makes someone a star? Is it talent or lineage? Is it the number of doors that happened to open up for a person? Or is it fate? Aditya Chopra says it is all up to the audience.  

To me, if a documentary makes you think, it has achieved what it set out to do. In that sense, The Romantics succeeds. 

Where’s the music?

Songs are an inseparable part of the Hindi movie industry. They have been instrumental in taking movies out of the cinema halls and into the streets, parties, and weddings. Sometimes a film’s music could make or break its chances at the box office. Yash Raj Films have given us some timeless music albums like Kabhi Kabhie, Silsila, Chandni, Lamhe, and DDLJ. Any Hindi movie lover will know at least one epic song from the production house. 

This documentary, though, doesn’t explore the musical journey of Yash Raj Films. We only get a small portion in an episode that pretty much says that song and dance is an integral part of Hindi movies. I wish we could get a peek into the history of YRF’s musical journey. 

The Romantics is a well-edited documentary that regales the Hindi film lover with first-ever interviews, and hard-to-find archival and behind-the-scenes footage. It was far more enjoyable than I had expected it to be. 

Aindrila Roy is a stay-at-home mom with her fingers in many pies. She writes, reads, makes jewelry, sings, dances and is a huge Paleontology nerd. Her book, I See You, was self-published on Amazon. She...