I was in Standard Fourth when Aditya Chopra’s ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaenge’ had released. Most of my cousins and friends in the school had seen it and they couldn’t stop raving about it. I remember coaxing and nagging my father (who isn’t a movie enthusiast) for the tickets and he obliged after a couple of weeks. Those days we didn’t have any vehicle, so mounting on a cycle-rickshaw with me sitting on my mother’s lap in the chilling winters of Jaipur we went to ‘Rajmandir’ for the night show. I saw the film again in Bombay with my cousins in the 1996 summer vacations. I saw it yet again in 2006 in Noida when the multiplexes re-released it for some reason. And I see it again every time it is aired on the television. Such was the euphoria of the film that more than our school lessons we grew up by hearting the famous dialogues from the film and even today we have this silly competition of ‘Who remembers the exact dialogues before the actors in the film speak’ every time it is played on the cable.
Most love stories made in those times often saw the hero & heroine defying their parents and running away, either to get married or to get killed by the parents. DDLJ came with a breath of fresh air where neither the lovers fought against the entire world nor did they succumb to the bullets in slow motion; here the lovers submitted to the older generations’ authority and made a strong moral case which they eventually won! DDLJ was also the ‘coolest’ ever film to be made and that too at a time when India was at the cusp of globalization and liberalization. From Shah Rukh’s leather jackets to Kajol’s halter neck gowns; from Tang to Strauh’s beer; from Yamaha bike to bullet trains – everything about the film was trendy and cool.
The brilliance of DDLJ lies in the fact that it blended tradition with modernity till one could hardly distinguish between the two. Here, we had a wife who fasts for her husband on Karwa Chauth (traditional) but she is also a mother who is strong (modern?) enough to go against her husband’s diktat and ask her daughter to elope. We had a Simran who is engaged but she dares and falls in love with someone on a trip (modern); however, the thought that she had sex with him freaks her out (traditional?). We also had the lover boy Raj who falls in love with Simran but is not game towards the idea of eloping without the blessings of his lover’s parents (traditional). The film depicts this battle between the past and the present, and between individual desire and societal customs. Hence, I respectfully disagree with folks who argue that the film was ‘regressive’.
One of the many reasons I love the film is because of the old world charm it has. Had it been made today, Raj & Simran would have had sex the moment Simran knocked off after sipping Cognac. But, here we had a couple who never even say the ‘3 magical words’ to each other but love each other unabashedly and passionately. In fact, Raj & Simran singing ‘Tujhe Dekha Toh’ in mustard field is greater than an bloody sex scene in movies. Aah! The magic of Shah Rukh and Kajol who became the eternally romantic onscreen couple after this and even today there is no one who can match their chemistry both on screen and off screen.
I wouldn’t be wrong if I say that it taught an entire generation to fall in love. Shah Rukh of course made it difficult for boys like us as every girl expected us to be ‘Raj’. However, it gave us hope. If a girl in college made an eye-contact with us then we all would turn to God and say ‘Palat’ because if she did then it somewhere meant that she liked us. We all wanted to impress the mothers just like Raj helped Simran’s mother because it clearly meant that half your battle is won. “What if you have fallen in love, with someone like me?” The hypothetical situation was many times enacted whenever we wanted to test our chances with someone. Oh! And how can I forget keeping ‘Karwa Chauth’ fast just like Raj did for Simran?
DDLJ is a film which has heart at the right place. Even after watching the film umpteenth number of times, I still can’t hold my tears when Farida Jalal talks about the sacrifices of women with her daughter and I can’t stop smilling when Simran finally hold Raj’s hand and boards the train.
DDLJ is the bible of onscreen romance in films. It is like an old wine whose taste has only become better with each passing year. 1000 weeks? Give me 1000 more!
My favorite moments from the film: