A Thousand Weeks of DDLJ

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge.mkv_010744749

Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge is a thousand weeks old.

That’s a long time.

To put it in perspective, a thousand weeks ago, Narendra Modi was a small-time politician in Gujarat, Kohli was eight years old, Vinod Kambli still had a future and I was in first year.

My how days fly.

And yet it seems to be just yesterday that we were introduced to the great patriot Baldev Singh (Amrish Puri), who tracks pigeons from Punjab so great is his desh-bhakti, but who, despite the deep rumblings for mitti ki khusboo, never visits his desh, perhaps because he is too busy looking at “goree teeetli” and drinking Black Dog, (Ok wrong film), his wife the beatific Lajjo, an anthropomorphism of ghee and aloo parathas, their well-fed daughter Simran with a proclivity for dancing in the rain in itsy-bitsy skirts,  Raj Malhotra, the character that would be played by the actor, Shahrukh Khan, for the next twenty years in more or less every film, and his father, played by Anupam Kher, who would beat Sonia Gandhi hands down as the parent of the century.

It seems to be just yesterday that DDLJ came into our lives.

As is the fashion today, it is deemed very cool to diss 80s and 90s Bollywood, not just for the technical shoddiness, but for being “politically incorrect” and “downmarket”.  DDLJ, I am told, is a particularly insidious narrative that sanitizes “Hindu patriarchy”, with much to be read into the “handing off” of Simran from  Baldev Singh to Raj Malhotra, and the fact that the character Raj Malhotra chooses to not “rebel” against the regressive status-quo but instead finds his place in it.

Now I want to say a lot of things in response, but I am not going to, for the simple reason that I cannot be objective about DDLJ.

So I brush these barbs off with a gallant “bade bade deshon mein aisi choti choti baatein hotee rahetee hai”.

So yeah. It’s not a cinematic classic. Kajol screeches, Shahrukh Khan hams,  and so do many other people in that hyper-animated bubbly style that was typical of the age and which still survives in New York Life insurance ads and the story is predictable and trite and it did inspire a zombie apocalypse of NRI Punjabi movies for more than the next decade.

I will give you that.

But that does not make it any the less great.

For it was the tapestry from which, those of us that were young in the 90s, stole bits of our life.

When we wanted to propose but were afraid of ruining a friendship, we would do it “as a joke”, gauge her reaction, and then laugh it away if things don’t look too good.

Just like they do in DDLJ.

When we wanted to test the waters, we would do the whole “What if you have fallen in love, with someone like me?” hypothetical scenario-playing.

Just like they do in DDLJ.

When the girl walked away in a Durga Pujo pandal after making an eye-contact or two, we would lean against the bamboo barricade and whisper to the heavens “Palat”.

Just like they do in DDLJ.

Did I forget anything?

Of course I did.

The music.

“Na Jaane Mere Dil Ko Kya Ho Gya” for that time you saw her dance in the college fest. “Yeh dil ki baat apnee dil mein dabake rakhna” for every crush that dare not be revealed. “Jadoo sa jaise koi chalne laga hai, main kya karoon yeh dil machalne laga hai” for those wet-wet-towel-clinging twinkle-toe moments.

The sound-track of our hearts. That’s what it used to be.

And now, now it has become a time-capsule, to gaze at and fondly remember.

For frozen in it, are moments from a thousand weeks ago, of bunking classes and going  in a group to Priya (or Naveena) to see DDLJ first week, of ooh-ing and aah-ing, and then having egg roll on the way back, with my head in the cloud, a spring in my step, and a whole world ahead to dream in.

Here’s to how we used to be.

Here’s to the next thousand.


25 thoughts on “A Thousand Weeks of DDLJ

  1. First! I-pad ka photo for me. Lol

  2. Glad that you didn’t betray the awesomeness one felt back in the day just because laughing off the 90’s is in vogue. To innocent days 🙂

  3. wow. you just made me nostalgic. never been a big fan of this one particularly. But yes long gone superb days.

  4. To how we used to be.

  5. “Palat” inspiration came from RBGJ, if I remember correctly. Nana Patekar’s indigenous theory it was.

  6. egg rolls were a big part of watching movies in the 90s

  7. DDLJ is evergreen in my heart. However the post is simply superb. Top hai boss!!! 🙂

  8. I had proposed to the girl i loved (now wife) after watching DDLJ. Oh, those heady days!

  9. Now, now you made me so nostalgic…those were heady days! was in first year too, in a girl’s college… the whole class bunked to watch this movie three times at Uphaar (this was before the tragic fire) and Savitri cinemas. There was a girl from the nearby Sarada Ashram (she was getting a degree while preparing to be a sanyasin) – we dragged her too. Her first and probably only movie! 🙂

  10. Despite having turned me into a mush of emotions, DDLJ holds a special place in my heart because some of my favourite real-life faux pas stories are DDLJ-inspired:

    1.Reading a book on every Metro ride in Kolkata with large-framed glasses, loose enough to have to keep pushing them back, in the hope that some very cute guy would find it appealing (doesn’t everyone find a shoddily clad book-reading girl hot?).

    2.Realising the guy you like, likes someone else and deciding not to pursue him because SRK said “Pyaar sab kuch toh nahi hota na” !

    3.Telling to your mother in the middle of the night about your crush, only to elicit a very angry “just focus on the board exams!” response.

    4.Strongly believing that there is great science behind wearing the “sagaai ki angoothi” on a particular finger (realizing years later that by getting married people actually show themselves another finger for life!)

  11. Ive noticed an increasing melancholy tone in your posts lately. They’re not just about growing up, but growing old. There seems to be a clear demarcation between the DDLJ days and the present. Not just for you, but me as well. The passage of time is scary.

  12. The absolutely non-endearing ‘jokey-proposal’ has been a thing amongst Indian males well before DDLJ.

  13. Bored me to death. Well I am not suited for such Cinema. I preferred and still prefer the Cinema of Mithun, Govinda and Ramsay bros.

    1. Subhadeep Chakrabarti December 21, 2014 — 9:45 am

      Agreed. Gunda any day over DDLJ.

  14. DDLJ is a bad movie, Arnab. When I look back to a thousand weeks ago when I did see this movie, I look back in embarrassment to how young and naive I was back then to be sucked into thinking that it was good. It is hard to feel nostalgic about a film that plagiarises its good bits (the surprise about Shah Rukh being a good pianist is a lift from Green Card, for instance), and has cringe inducing moments liberally sprayed throughout (SRKs scenes with Mandira Bedi, for instance). And the music is downright appalling (this, in fact, is something that I had felt at that time as well). So, no nostalgia about DDLJ for me, just as I don’t feel nostalgic about the period when I thought Bryan Adams was good, or Ayn Rand was a terrific writer.

  15. SPHS , Ballygunge Cultural and VP never leaves us Arnab no matter how far we live from them 😉

  16. very nicely written….captured the “then ” moment very well

  17. DDLJ is my reference point for how things were then. Have seen it more than 100 times since.

  18. Subhadeep Chakrabarti December 26, 2014 — 4:03 pm

    DDLJ is dated and regressive and so no more deserves any respect.

  19. Saw it in first year too. Saw it first day first show in Skyline theatre Hyderabad. Arnab, you have a way to write about things many kids of 90s feel but cannot/dont express. To the folks who say it is a bad movie, you are missing the whole point. The point is not about the movie being good or bad, the point is we were at an age when we used to fall in love and we fell in love with DDLJ.

    1. Subhadeep Chakrabarti January 7, 2015 — 3:45 pm

      Speak for yourself. There are many who loathed DDLJ and still do.

  20. Aditya Nath Jha January 3, 2015 — 9:51 am

    People can argue about how “good” DDLJ actually was, but for me it was the first film since Bobby that had such a crackling chemistry between the hero and the heroine. And nothing has come since then to beat it. I think that’s what bestowed “greatness” on its simple moments – making every young guy imagining himself to be Raj Malhotra and every young girl subliming into being Simran. And EVERY one, young or middle-aged, wanted Anupam Kher as their dad (which I suspect was also a backlash against Alok Nath’s attempts to take over the title of the Father of the Nation).

  21. This was the first movie for which I went alone to theater. The place was mostly vacant and the few who came there stopped by for the raunchy posters, somewhere in northern kerala where Hind films are seldom shown. But one thing I am sure was that there was something in the movie which captivated me for three hours.

  22. ddlj will always have a special place in my heart as this is when I touched my first crush hand……

  23. Thank-you for not ripping off ddlj. Sure it has some of its own flaws. But sometimes all pieces of puzzles fell into right places and gives you something spectacular like ddlj. After watching so many great bolly or holly movies i have concluded that they are not great because they have very major things going on in then but because of small moments that make them great all together.

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