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The iconic Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge turns 25, but how does it hold up today?

Written by Shaikh Ayaz
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Up to date: October 20, 2020 12:05:15 pm


Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol in 1995 movie Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. (The Press Reporter archive photograph)

Raj’s guitar-strumming come-ons and his palat-palat shtick, the dreamy-eyed Simran’s Euro fantasy, Bauji’s dedication to Indian values, the NRI tradition, Punjab’s pop yellow mustard fields and loads of pigeon-feeding and mehndi-inflected ballads (because of melody kings Jatin-Lalit) — these oft-parodied photos and characters belong to the fan-favourite Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. For adherents, it’s not simply any strange film. It’s a good friend. They like to name it merely DDLJ, which is both an acronym, nickname or a time period of endearment. The longest-running movie within the historical past of Hindi cinema turns 25 at present, however how nicely does the enduring blockbuster maintain up within the post-me too, post-feminist, post-liberal, post-introspection and god is aware of what number of ‘posts’ later? Has its cultural affect endured or dimmed?

Starring Shah Rukh Khan because the outrageous flirt Raj, Kajol as household woman Simran, the late Amrish Puri because the strict patriarch Baldev Singh, Farida Jalal as Simran’s supportive mom and Anupam Kher as Raj’s equally flamboyant single dad, DDLJ was a game-changer when it first opened to packed homes in 1995, in a newly liberalised India. Its launch coinciding with the heady days prompted by financial reforms. Quickly, this may drive the nation in direction of a brand new, extra consumerist and globalised social actuality. Multiplexes have been nonetheless some years away, however the costume circles, balconies and stalls of single screens (it nonetheless performs to a rapt viewers in Mumbai’s fabled Maratha Mandir) have been teeming with {couples} and households angling to get a dekko at this aspirational love story. For the middle-class viewers whose thought for a trip was Kullu Manali household bundle, DDLJ’s European landmarks served as a vicarious pleasure and want fulfilment. One other quiet cultural shift was brewing in right here: Karan Johar, who has a blink-and-miss cameo as SRK’s good friend within the film, learnt one finish of his filmmaking rope from DDLJ (the opposite got here from Yash Chopra’s earlier romances). So, DDLJ supplied the blueprint for a lot of the slick Dharma fluff you noticed by the late 1990s onwards.

Raj-Simran’s glad ending

shah rukh khan kajol The display pairing of Kajol and Shah Rukh Khan had beforehand struck gold in Baazigar (1993) and Karan Arjun (1995), however it’s their flip in DDLJ that made an outsized cultural imprint. (The Press Reporter archive photograph)

First issues first. The movie was an costly launchpad for Yash Chopra’s son and inheritor to his rising celluloid empire, Aditya Chopra, and was shot in unique locales of London, Switzerland and Punjab by YRF veteran Manmohan Singh — to not be confused with the daddy of financial liberalisation. Aditya, who’s married to Rani Mukerji, is a Bollywood enigma. Regardless of a landmark debut, writes Anupama Chopra, “Aditya Chopra turned a reputation, however not a face.” Sensationally well-liked, the display pairing of Kajol and Shah Rukh Khan had beforehand struck gold in Baazigar (1993) and Karan Arjun (1995), however it’s their flip in DDLJ that made an outsized cultural imprint. Their glamorous and whirlwind romance as Raj-Simran helped redefine the concept of affection and courtship for younger and West-worshipping audiences. However, the movie additionally “ruined” romance for a lot of. However we are going to come to that later. Baldev Singh (Amrish Puri), or Bauji as he’s known as, is a reasonably profitable NRI dwelling in London together with his household, together with daughter Simran (Kajol) and spouse Lajjo (Farida Jalal) however his coronary heart nonetheless pines for India. In walks Raj (Khan), a London wealthy child. Bauji is sensitive about India and his first impression of Raj is that this man’s most likely giving the trustworthy and hardworking NRI a foul title. Raj is brash and a shameless lover who will do something to woo an initially reluctant Simran. However as soon as the couple is head over heels in love, convincing Bauji for marriage is subsequent to not possible. As an alternative, Bauji has fastened her nuptials with a good friend’s son, which marks their return to India. From Euro Rail to Indian prepare, the motion shifts to the picturesque wintery Punjab, Bauji’s homeland.

Each Hindi front-bencher is aware of what is going to observe. Khan’s Raj goes all out to win over her household, which within the ’90s turned a really cool factor. The method being shortly emulated by all relentless suitors and creeps. Within the movie’s edge-of-the-seat climax (so well-known that Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan recreated it to generate some laughs in addition to make some extent about homophobia), an unbending Bauji lastly lets go of Simran’s hand with these oft-quoted closing traces, “Jaa, Simran, jaa, jeele apni zindagi (Go, Simran, dwell your life).” On the departing prepare is a badly bruised Raj, who stretches his hand to sneak her in. Glad ending?

Patriarchy points

DDLJ MOVIE When you look previous the patriarchy, DDLJ embodies ‘Bollywood dream’ at its best. (The Press Reporter archive photograph)

Not precisely, as a result of within the final decade, critics and DDLJ-bashers have torn into the film’s oppressive patriarchy, one thing that the ’90s audiences had ignored of their early pleasure or maybe folks woke as much as the sticky patches solely a lot later. Writing in Scroll.in, Shivam Vij declared, “DDLJ isn’t precisely a movie to be celebrated,” explaining that the movie’s “overwhelming message is inescapable: in case your mother and father don’t allow you to marry who you need, don’t run away.” In 2014, on the event of the film’s 20th anniversary, senior journalist Sidharth Bhatia had identified, “The inherent conformism of DDLJ and far else that got here after is troubling. It’s only when Amrish Puri provides ‘permission’ that Simran runs to her boyfriend.” Others nonetheless took situation with the movie’s feminine characters and gender roles. Like this polemic in Feminism in India, by which author Sanjula Gupta argued, “The submissive feminine protagonists are sometimes passive objects in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge and it’s the male characters who decide their destiny.”

25 years on, what exactly is DDLJ’s legacy? Positive sufficient, it’s one in all Hindi cinema’s best money-spinners and an enormous cultural touchstone. As normally befitting era-defining debuts, reclusive director Aditya Chopra has by no means been capable of match its success within the many years that adopted. Even Shah Rukh Khan, celluloid’s Romeo extraordinaire, has tried to replay Raj quite a few instances in his profession after DDLJ however has seldom discovered that midas contact — now, 50 plus, the lover boy days could also be far too behind for King Khan.

Maybe, the ‘stalker’ bit that labored early on in his profession (Darr, Anjaam, even DDLJ) could not really feel so welcome in modern instances. Worse, within the a lot wizened 2020, it can run him into bother. Kajol, one of many movie’s principals, remains to be prominently round. Though she makes rare appearances on the massive display, again within the ’90s, she was the stuff desires have been fabricated from. Evergreen Amrish Puri, arguably probably the most dependable ingredient in any Hindi movie, is unfortunately no extra to see the totally different reactions (each good and dangerous) to DDLJ, particularly his personal contribution to among the “conformism” that critics are discovering fault with.

Additionally Learn | DDLJ stars: The place are they now?| DDLJ at 25: Celebs and followers have fun milestone | Do you know these 10 issues about Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge?

DDLJ smashed the home box-office, nevertheless it has an equally massive viewership within the West, significantly amongst diaspora who foolishly view it as probably the most quintessentially Indian movie (or export) ever. Some even journey all the way in which to India on a bride-hunting expedition, hoping to search out the Simrans of their dream. Not less than R Madhavan opts for that route in Tanu Weds Manu. DDLJ’s recognition overseas may very well be as a result of it reminds them of dwelling and a extra harmless time they’ve left behind. Even Barack Obama’s thought of India, it appears, comes from DDLJ. Anybody recollects the previous US Prez mouthing SRK’s “Bade bade deshon mein aisi chhoti chhoti baatein hoti rehti hai, Senorita” at a public occasion, to raucous applause? In the meantime, in India, when you look previous the patriarchy, DDLJ embodies ‘Bollywood dream’ at its best. One ought to wait and watch to see if it can go the Gone With The Wind approach, as in consecutive generations will rediscover the movie and dig out extra issues and attempt to remake it in their very own picture. How about renewing this dialog on the movie’s 35th anniversary? Until then, let’s minimize Raj and Simran some slack and permit them their share of home bliss.

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