The 20-year long romance with Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge
Author-writer William Somerset Maugham said, “The love that is longest is perhaps the love that is never returned,” but the Shahrukh Khan-Kajol starrer, made under the illustrious Yash Raj Films banner, has proved him wrong. The cool classic and contemporary prem kahani, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ), is still running strong in its 20th year.
They are everywhere, on social media, on WhatsApp groups, in the newspapers, et al, even though it was 20 long years ago when the world first met them. Yet, every time they reappear they evoke the same excitement and emotions in people’s hearts and minds. I am talking about Raj-Simran, the oh-so-much-in-love couple of Yash Raj Films’ Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge.
On October 19, 2014, 20 years hence, Shahrukh Khan and Kajol, who played Raj and Simran, paid a tribute (through a video that is currently viral) to the biggest blockbuster of their careers. It has gone viral and how! Last year, Maratha Mandir, the only cinema hall that still screens the epic love story celebrated a 1000-week run at the box-office. Fans didn’t miss the opportunity to be part of the momentous moment.
A friend, who first saw DDLJ at the age of ten, went to Maratha Mandir last year to re-experience the magic of Raj-Simran. But this time she went with her boyfriend in tow, who too equally enjoys DDLJ’s romance. And it turns out, young and old, snob and massy, people from Borivali to Breach Candy, many like them had rushed to watch DDLJ during the special screening week.
I am sure Romeo-Juliet, Shirin-Farhad, Heer-Ranjha and the likes, who died for love, ishq and mohabbat, are turning in their respective graves on watching the ceaseless love-affection showered on Raj-Simran. The tragic lovers must be like, ‘What the h*^%! Neither do we have a happily ever-after nor are we worthy of a great memory?”.
To me, it was a romantic film like any other of that time. Over the years though, every time I watched a song or a scene from the film, listened to the melodious songs, read how it inspired new-age filmmakers, watched every tribute, I realized that there was an inexplicable magic in the movie that I clearly missed to comprehend back when it released.
So, what makes DDLJ a love story bigger than Mughal-E-Azam, Devdas, Pyaasa, Maine Pyar Kiya, Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak and other great reel romances of Hindi cinema? What makes the names, Raj and Simran, an everlasting memory etched in the dils of dilwales across the globe?
First-time Shahrukh Khan played the quintessential romantic hero – he was fun, cool, charming and desi at heart. He traveled from London to Punjab to woo back his lady, not only charmed women but uncles, aunts, dads and moms to befriend the girlfriend’s family members. Earlier SRK had played the obsessive-psychotic lover who stalked his favorite woman – that too won him fans – but a girl would never wish for a guy like him.
Since her first film, Bekhudi, Kajol exhibited that she had the talent vital for a powerful actor, but her style sense sucked and how! Remember the unruly wavy hair and shapeless frocks she donned in her initial films? Friend and director Aditya Chopra persuaded the unconventional looking actress to dress-up. And, voila, her tresses were slightly tamed (the straightened hair), her silhouette got sexy (the figure-hugging halter-neck dresses), the dull duckling had turned into a stunning swan.
Back then SRK and Kajol were rising stars and shared a ‘we-are-so-comfortable-and-truly-in-love’ kinda unbeatable chemistry. Perhaps, the secret of great chemistry between some actors is ‘coz for screen they are really discovering each other romantically, and that makes their love real. Look at the tribute video that is out currently, you will know!
Boy and girl meet, fall in love, sing songs and dance, family disapproves so they either commit suicide or blood is shed to stop the lovers from uniting. But for its time DDLJ was a progressive take on the typical plot. Director Aditya Chopra’s Raj didn’t elope with the love of his life, Simran. Instead through his charm and wit attempted to get blessings of her stern and conservative father, played by Amrish Puri, who made Babuji as memorable as Mogambo.
Then, comes the other set of parents – Raj’s over-friendly Pop, played by the malleable Anupam Kher, and Simran’s supportive Mom, played by the cherubic Farida Jalal. During those times celluloid fathers and mothers were strict, traditionalist and formal in their conduct. And that was a phase when action romances were more popular at the box-office. But Pop and Mom were an interpretation of the young generation’s idea of parents, like the way we see them in new millennium movies.
DDLJ was the first NRI love story and one of the few films extensively shot in the gorgeous land called Europe. Before it prem kahanis were set in a gaon or shehar or India. But this film started in a foreign land, had the über coolness that desis aspire for, yet was Indian in essence, just like our NRIs. So, you have Raj, who played rugby, unabashedly flirted with pretty-young-things, broke into stores for beer and fun, wore biker jackets-rugged jeans and kurta-pyjamas and with equal zeal, but when it came to love, he wanted to do it the right way.
Even today you will hear ‘Mehendi Laga Ke Rakhana’ played at least once either by the DJ or the bandwalas during the baraat. And maybe, some enthusiastic cousin will perform on ‘Ho Gaya Hai Tujhko…’ or ‘Mere Khwabon Mein…” at a sangeet function. Jatin-Lalit’s music and Anand Bakshi’s lyrics has that timeless charm, it’s got the melodious vibe of modern beats and the soulfulness of yesteryear songs.
Last but quite important, the dialogues. Writer Javed Siddiqui and Aditya Chopra gave lines that you and I would use in routine life, but the words had the power to stay with the audience as they walked out of the cinema hall. From something as simple as ‘Palat….Palat’ to the evergreen ‘Bade Bade Deshon Mein Aisi Choti Choti Baatein Hoti Rehti Hai’ to Babuji at pre-climax or Babuji’s famous lines, ‘Ja Simran ja, jee le apni zindagi…”. Every fan will mouth the exact dialogues every time the film is being played on the screen.
So, as Anupam Kher said in the film: “Mohabbat ka naam aaj bhi mohabbat hai, bete! Ye na kabhi badli hai, aur na kabhi badlegi”. So times will change but DDLJ’s magic will remain….
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