Entertainment in our country of a billion and a half is quite limited. Movies. The most loved and most beautiful one. I crack at least five Bollywood jokes a day and go full Anubis on someone who doesn't get the references. I am disappointed on dates if they cannot relate to Bauji's thumbs-up after Jaa Simran Jaa. I choose a Besharam Rang for the morning workout over any other gym tracks. It is what it is.
It doesn't matter how many Akira Kurosawa or Stanley Kubrick films you spend your time watching, if there's Mehendi Lagake Rakhna playing outside the house as someone's baaraat goes by, you will still do a little jig. No Spielberg can take that away from us.
So, watching The Romantics on Netflix last night was a trip down memory lane. It brought Aditya Chopra out of a closet and showed him like nobody ever has. It showed Uday Chopra like nobody ever has seen him. It was a full-on PR exercise by YRF, yes, but it also was a joyride through and through.
For the nineties kids, Yash Chopra has never really been a phenomenon. The only movie he directed in our lifetime was Jab Tak Hai Jaan, which, despite the grand hit it became, was a pretty simplistic script at its core and perhaps a little out of touch with the 2010s. But its success also bore testimony to the all-pervasive power of the Big Bollywood film. You could have a script written by a 3-year-old but if told well, it will still do millions at the box office.
No one really remembers the gaping craters in the script of Jab Tak Hai Jaan anymore. You remember Saans, Ishq Shava, Heer, and Challa. You remember Shah Rukh saying, "Nahi bhooloonga mai, jab tak hai jaan, jab tak hai jaan." You remember Katrina in that white salwar-kameez against the gorgeous mountains of Kashmir. You remember it as Yash Chopra's last film. You remember it as the one you watched in a theatre with your family on Diwali and came out smiling crying unsure of what to do with your emotions. That's perhaps what Bollywood has always stood for. At the risk of sounding like someone from all the interviewees in The Romantics, Bollywood really is what we like to believe we are.
So, all the dating fatigue later, I know I would still turn around to look at someone if they were to say 'Palat' somewhere at the foot of the Swiss Alps.
A few months ago, I was visiting Switzerland with my parents. Mom and I took a day off from Dad and took the Eiger Express up till Lauterbrunnen, and then a cable car to Schilthorn. The Eiger Express leaves from a station called Interlaken Ost.
Interlaken is the little Swiss town that is known for the brilliant turquoise lakes, an Indian flag pasted on every shop-front, ads for chai-samosa scribbled in Hindi, and, well, a statue of Yash Chopra. Chopra after all single-handedly did for Switzerland Tourism what the entire country still hasn't been able to perhaps.
On our way back from Schilthorn, it was around 4 pm and I remember being quite tired. So, I wanted to get on the train back to Bern from Interlaken. But my mom knew that there was a statue of Yash Chopra somewhere around there.
Google was consulted to find The Statue of Yash Chopra. Yes, it is a point on the map. A bus was boarded. It had started raining by then but there was no other option. My mom just had to see Yash Chopra.
We got off the bus at the stop that Google suggested. Then missed the cut a few times, and finally found ourselves in front of the bronze statue that the Switzerland government installed for its Ambassador of Interlaken, Yash Chopra. There were three other people there, all Indians, looking equally lost, till they spotted the statue. We shared a glance and smiled at each other.
Later, we also realised that the day was Yash Chopra's tenth death anniversary.
So, the Children of Bollywood, the nineties kids and their parents who all grew up in middle-class India, had come to pay their tribute. From Silsila to Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. The world that still believes in hopelessly romantic love over cauterised conversation on dating apps. The glossy unspoilt world of The Romantics.
These Romantics from the Yash Chopra School of Filmmaking (yes, Shah Rukh Khan, especially you) are solely responsible for spoiling our idea of love. For all the dejection that we deal with on dates from Bumble to Hinge. They are behind all those unrealistic expectations that we struggle with every day. There are no Raj Malhotras no matter how many EuRail trips you take through Europe and how many lakhs you spend on Switzerland hoping to fall in love YRF style.
Love is still hard to find and at best you might run into F**kboi Ranbir from Bachna Ae Haseeno. But the Yash Raj love stories will survive. Skip Switzerland for a trip to Maratha Mandir. You will know why.