Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge Turns 500

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge turns 500 this week. For 500 golden weeks it has been running at Maratha Mandir and in an age of short attention spans, rapidly evolving ideas of entertainment and a whole lot of choices, such longevity is to be applauded. And analyzed.

A caveat: I am partial to DDLJ. There is no way I can objectively analyze its strengths and weaknesses. There are two reasons for that.

Reason Number 1 is that when I saw the movie for the first time in 1995 I was in first year of my college . Romance was in the air. Not the level-minded, studied compatibility tests of the mature years. Crazy, impulsive love with no thought of consequences. Pure, innocent white-hot passion. A pang in the heart, butterflies in the stomach, a whiff of perfume, a shy smile, a stolen glance—–yes those were the days. For someone in the “mood for love” DDLJ was a godsend— A contemporary love story between two real people ( real by Hindi movie standards), intensely romantic, original and yet within the framework of the typical Hindi familiar (innovative so that it separates itself from the crowd and yet familiar so that it does not make us uncomfortable in any way), garnished with humor, excitement and breath-taking music. In short, I always evaluate DDLJ with my heart rather than my head. Because everytime I see DDLJ, I see myself as I used to be 10 years ago.

Reason Number 2 is Kajol. She looks amazing in this movie, acts like a million bucks—-and when she burst onto the screen in a towel and then danced in the rain in micro-minis—-there were small explosions going in my head in 1995. In 2005 they still do.

Now here is my mature analysis of DDLJ. The mid 90s were a period of dramatic changes in India’s entertainment landscape. Liberalization had brought in cable TV—-with the stranglehold of Doordarshan relaxed, people were faced with the onslaught of American culture through MTV/Channel V. And it changed India’s tastes forever. The hoi-polloi were no longer satisfied with the technically poor movies that were the norm in 80s with their garish costumes, loud music and hackneyed plots. They wanted something different—-a movie that was western in appearance and yet Indian in spirit, that embraced MTV culture without forgetting our traditions. DDLJ fit the bill perfectly.

It was far removed from the low-brow vulgarity of the David Dhawan-Govinda school of filmmaking that had driven away the family audience from the theatres. Yet it was prurient enough to keep the college audiences happy, but not so raunchy that parents squirm in their seats. It was not violent, it was not uber-realistic—-in short dead center in the comfort zone of Indian audiences. In an India bewildered by the rapid incursion of a new lifestyle, DDLJ offered a message of acceptance and assimilation of two ways of life.

Because of that, DDLJ is more than just a hit movie—–it is an important milestone in Indian pop culture history.

Subsequent movies have tried to follow DDLJ’s formula with various degrees of success—but gentlemen, this is the original.

500 weeks have gone and DDLJ still seduces us with its message of “Come fall in love”. Yes we are still in love. With DDLJ.

15 thoughts on “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge Turns 500

  1. Very poignant. I know exactly what you mean and that is why I still like DDLJ though “rationally” pushing 30 myself,I really should be past such teeniebopper movies. I loved the line “I see myself as I used to be 10 years ago”. Came to this blog from sepiamutiny and wow, you are REALLY good. Don’t agree always with your politics but it’s still very well-presented and argued. Your strength however is fiction and humor. Keep it up.

  2. Very good posting,Arnab..
    I definitely agree with you..DDLJ is really a spectacular movie..

  3. Unrelated, but couldn’t find your mail ID so just to let you know: saw Sith at a preview and IT ROCKED! Easily the best of all the SW films after Empire, and Lucas’s treatment of the Anakin story surpassed my wildest expectations. There are still problems with the romantic story being stilted and cheesy, but that was a minor problem. Overall the film managed to be tragic and brooding and kick-ass exciting all at once. Go watch.

  4. Damn right!! I was thinking of writing a post on this…but you said everything that was on my mind. DDLJ is one of my favourites as well…and like you i cant bear to analyse it.

    Everything about it right from Kajols mini skirt to Shahrukhs ‘Agar yeh tujhse pyar karti hai Raj, toh yeh tujhe palat ke zaroor dekhegi’ was etched in memory forever. I cant dissect this one for those were the times of crushes and love-was-in-the-air. I remember their euro-rail trip inspired me and my friends to plan one of our own! 😀

    And who can forget the awesome music.

    Good post!

  5. Jabberwock: Just can’t wait to see it—the Force is overpowering me !

    Gangadhar and Aparna: Thanks.

  6. YOURFAN writes:
    @GB:All your movie analysis (at least the ones that I have managed to read so far) are either humorous or critical. The one on DDLJ is straight from heart as you wrote: “I always evaluate DDLJ with my heart rather than my head.” I can really understand the depth of what you said by the simple fact that you listed this post as a post on memories. That says it all.
    Thanks for reviving my memories too. Sometimes I sincerely don’t want to be objectively mature – watching DDLJ is one such occasion.
    There are a lot of posts that you wrote a long time ago which are fantastic – this is one of them.

  7. @Yourfan: Thank you. Yes this is one movie I am totally emotional about (just like some are about RDB).

  8. Couldn’t agree more with the post. Well I am in the same boat as you. I saw the movie in Class XI and romance was in the air. And obviously the Kajol factor. DDLJ is still the best.

  9. How did you forget to mention this gem….

    “After Raj met Simran….Love was never the same”

  10. I know this is quite late, since the time you posted it, but I can’t help but write since my views are so very similar to yours on this iconic movie.
    DDLJ was THE defining movie for a generation, as far as romance goes. I think Shahrukh owes his entire career to this movie…and so does Bollywood, in many ways. This movie proved that India is not just within the geographic confines of it’s physical boundaries, thus paving the way for the “NRI” mindset movies (I hope this rough moniker suffices for what I’m trying to say), with bigger budgets, cleaner movies and different plotlines/subjects.

  11. Aha, DDLJ turns 750 now. Just when to maratha mandir and got myself a lookie

  12. Ahhhhh!!!!…As Some one who was born in the 80s…with my drunken state….finally….I likr it very muchho!!!!!

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