‘The Romantics’ Evokes Nostalgia, But Lacks Nuance

The documentary celebrating 50 years of Bollywood studio Yash Raj Films has touching moments, but avoids deeper conversations.

Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol in DDLJ (Yash Raj Films)

Snigdha Sur


February 15, 2023


9 min

The year was 1973. After directing two black-and-white films with strong social messages, cementing the concept of the ensemble cast, and delivering two (!) movies in 1969, the 41-year-old director born in Lahore in pre-partition India was ready to get out from under the wings of his elder brother. So Yash Chopra launched his own production company, and released Daag (1973), a superhit. Yash Raj Films was off to the races.

Over the next 50 years, the production house would give us some of the most iconic songs, dialogues, and premises — from a stalker who stutters his love’s name (K-k-k-k-kiran), to brothers who debate the importance of material things (“Mere paas maa hain!”), to British Indians falling in love on a trip to Europe. Yash Raj is responsible for saris blowing in the wind in the Swiss Alps, Shah Rukh Khan as a romantic hero, and lead actresses looking flawless. We wanted to be the characters in Yash Raj films, or were sometimes disappointed to learn that we might share their flaws.

During four roughly hour-long episodes, The Romantics navigates the half a century of Yash Raj Films history by interviewing everyone from Chopra’s son and successor Aditya to superstars Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan, and Rani Mukerji. But audiences might be left with a gnawing feeling: who exactly is this documentary for? For Bollywood fans, there is little new information. For those unfamiliar with the Hindi film industry, many questions go unanswered. What you’re left with is a pleasant, meandering walk through memory lane, but nothing deeper — unlike Yash Raj movies, which leave you humming their tunes and thinking about what you’ve seen long after you’ve left the theater.

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