A girl in a billowy white costume runs by means of a shiny inexperienced and yellow discipline, her lengthy hair streaming behind her as she reunites with the person she loves in “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge,” one of the vital profitable Indian motion pictures of all time.
“DDLJ” was produced by the late Yash Chopra, a person sometimes called Bollywood’s “Father of Romance.” It additionally marked his son Aditya Chopra’s directorial debut. Collectively, they’ve been liable for a few of Bollywood’s best-known romance movies, with chart-topping songs and placing visuals that redefined the tropes of up to date Indian cinema.
“The cinema that Yashji gave us is a cinema of aspiration, a cinema of hope,” says the Indian movie critic and director of the Mumbai Movie Competition, Anupama Chopra (no relation), in a single episode. “It is a cinema that simply form of makes you’re feeling like you’ll be able to dream.”
The docuseries’ Indian American director, Smriti Mundhra, stated she selected to concentrate on the Chopras as a result of their movies have been instrumental in crafting at the moment’s picture of Bollywood.
“I had, for a very long time, been eager to make one thing on the historical past and impression of Hindi cinema,” she instructed CNN in a telephone interview. “And after I considered what lens to have a look at that very large broad subject (by means of), the very first thing that got here to thoughts was Yash Chopra as a filmmaker and his profession and his impression and legacy.”
“The archetype for the picture of Bollywood or Hindi cinema that the world has actually got here from Yash Chopra,” she added, describing a number of of his movies as “far forward of their time.”
“DDLJ” cemented the stardom of Shah Rukh Khan, who performs the Raj to Kajol’s Simran. Credit score: Courstesy Yash Raj Movies
Take “DDLJ,” which tells the story of Simran and Raj — each of Indian origin however born in London — who meet whereas touring throughout Europe with their respective buddies. Usually, Bollywood romances targeted on Indians in India, however “DDLJ” broke the mould by telling the love story of two abroad Indians and by merging Western and Indian cultures.
The movie additionally shifted the values that historically drove Indian love tales. On the time, for example, if lead characters’ households did not approve of a romance, the couple would usually run away collectively. However in “DDLJ,” the male protagonist refuses to be with the girl he loves with out her household’s blessing (although some critics of the movie discovered this message to be regressive).
Within the film’s remaining scene, Simran is seen pleading along with her father to let her be with Raj, who has simply boarded a prepare. On the final second, Simran’s father relinquishes his maintain on her arm, telling her to go stay her life, and he or she runs to meet up with Raj who pulls her onto the transferring prepare. It is as dramatic as it’s iconic.
Filmmaker Karan Johar stated within the “The Romantics” that this narrative determination “opened the movie as much as not simply kids but additionally households,” including that it “started a brand new period.”
A ‘bridge’ into Indian cinema
The sequence additionally factors out situations the place the Chopras’ romances challenged business expectations. Girls, Mundhra argued, have been proven in a extra “progressive” gentle with extra nuanced characters and plot traces. For example, Bhumi Pednekar, who performed the lead in “Dum Laga Ke Haisha” stated within the docuseries that her casting as an “chubby heroine” was “remarkable in India.” She added that whereas her physique form wasn’t typical of the typical Bollywood feminine lead, her character was written to be “very assured” similar to “all the opposite YRF heroines.”
Whereas the Chopras constructed the inspiration of their film empire on romance, they’ve additionally produced a slew of motion blockbusters that proceed to dominate the Hindi movie business over a decade after Yash’s dying, from “Dhoom” to “Pathaan,” which is at present the highest-grossing Indian movie of 2023. However with “The Romantics” Mundhra goals not solely to showcase the breadth of the studio’s output however the depth of the Hindi movie business at massive.
“Dhoom,” which YRF launched in 2004, spawned a multi-film franchise. Credit score: Courtesy Yash Raj Movies
The director instructed CNN she hopes the sequence will resonate with Bollywood fans and newcomers alike. Audiences already acquainted with the titles featured in “The Romantics” could, she stated, “study one thing in regards to the making and the context of the movies that they grew up loving.” For these new to the style, the sequence goals to indicate that “they are not simply formulation movies with singing and dancing.”
“They are not simply derivatives of Hollywood movies,” she added. “There’s a strong cinematic language and a sturdy auteur tradition in Bollywood and Hindi movies. I hope that takeaway is obvious.”
Director Smriti Mundhra says the tales she tells in “The Romantics” are “deeply private and deeply acquainted.” Credit score: Netflix India
Mundhra, who additionally created Netflix’s hit actuality TV present “Indian Matchmaking” and has directed two episodes of Mindy Kaling’s “By no means Have I Ever,” isn’t any stranger to producing content material that concurrently appeals to Indians and the diaspora.
“I believe any non-Indian particular person ought to be capable to discover a foothold in Indian cinema,” she continued. “So long as I will help present that bridge, I do not see why one thing like (‘The Romantics’) could not work for each audiences. It would not must betray one so as to entice the opposite.”