As romantics around the world gear up to celebrate Valentine’s Day, the creator of “Indian Matchmaking” is preparing to release a love letter to Bollywood.
A new documentary series coming to Netflix on Feb. 14 will explore the history of Bollywood romance movies and their impact on Indian identity, with interviews from 35 Hindi film icons of the last 50 years. “The Romantics” picks the brains of Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Kajol, Madhuri Dixit and Ranbir Kapoor (among many, many others), who all sit down to discuss Hindi cinema and the roles they’ve played in shaping it.
Colorful settings, love songs and beautiful dance numbers have come to define Hindi cinema globally, the actors said, and they’ve molded how the world sees Indian culture.
“Films that come out of India are completely unique to our culture,” actor Abhishek Bachchan said in the series’ trailer. “They don’t try to be like anybody else.”
The opening question posed to the actors in the trailer — “What do you think about the term ‘Bollywood’?” — is already a deep cut. It’s a label fraught with conversations about exclusivity, colorism, nepotism and South Indian erasure in a Hindi-only medium.
“Our cinema is an inherent part of Indians,” Khan said.
The series is helmed by “Indian Matchmaking” creator Smriti Mundhra, who also directed a few episodes of Mindy Kaling’s “Never Have I Ever.” Mundhra’s new series will trace the career of Yash Chopra, the director many credit with pioneering the Hindi romance genre and launching some of the world’s most famous actors.
“The Romantics” also features interviews with Indian stars from the diaspora like Lilly Singh, who in the trailer described Bollywood’s impact on her own life.
“It was the first time I saw Western and Indian culture kind of merge together,” the comedian said.