‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge’, popularly referred to as ‘DDLJ’, is, perhaps, the National romantic movie of India. I mean our grandfathers swore by ‘Mughal-e-Azam’ in their good days and our fathers by, say, ‘Aradhana’ with Rajesh Khanna singing in a Jeep moving along a mountain road. We swear by ‘DDLJ’, a much-needed acronym for a movie from the decade famous for its long movie titles. I have ‘experienced’ the movie twice in my short life. Once as a kid from the 90s and once as an adult, horrified by the way the movie gave Shah Rukh Khan a license to act in films with their own twisted and ridiculous notions about love and romance.
I have to admit that I like the film still and it would be improper to say that the movie is ridiculous or insane. Saying so would be hurting the judgement of the audiences that have shown so much love for the movie over the years. It would be proper, however, to say that its notions are ridiculous and insane. But before exploring its bizarre notions two things need to be said.
First, the movie is overrated. And Shah Rukh Khan is not be blamed, ignorantly, for that. He acted and acted well in a movie that was offered to him at a point in his career when he was happy doing Anti-hero roles in movies like ‘Darr’, ‘Anjaam’ and ‘Baazigar’. I believe that a lot of undeserved praise is heaped on ‘DDLJ’ while films like ‘Dil Se’, from the same artist, have been underrated. And it is the audiences’ perception that needs to blamed, if at all we choose to blame anyone. As far as the artists of the movies are considered they are to be praised at all costs because while they were working on both kinds of movies, they had no idea what the future held for them. It could be a fact that Shah Rukh Khan is as surprised as me at the fact that ‘DDLJ’ has made it so far. It is still running in Maratha Mandir, a cinema hall in Mumbai suburbs, while some of his far better works have been ‘arthouse-esque’ relics, which serve his critics well when they feel like panning ‘DDLJ’.
Second, the movie’s success has a lot to do with the music of the film than its lead pair’s acting skills or the direction and screenplay. I give a huge credit of its success to Jatin-Lalit, Kumar Sanu, Udit Narayan and Lata Mangeshkar. When I watched the movie as a kid, I liked the movie locales and the songs of the movie. Raj (Shah Rukh Khan), wearing a Harley Davidson Jacket, with Simran (Kajol) in his arms in a beautiful mustard field to the tunes of ‘Tujhe Dekha Toh Yeh Jaana Sanam’. I was awestruck with the European locations, the songs and the colorful clothes of the actors, the wedding scenes. I was a kid back then and had no idea about how screenplay works in movies. I did not suffer much because ‘DDLJ’ didn’t have much of both. When I grew up and watched it again I had mixed feelings. I had a ‘feel good’ feeling after hearing those classic songs as well as the locales and a little bit situational comedy. But at the same time I could clearly see that why despite the acting as well as writing having notable flaws, ‘DDLJ’ is not only a hit but enjoys massive cult following.
The ‘feel good’ feeling.
[Spoilers ahead!, *lame laughs’, It is anti-national if anyone born in India hasn’t seen it yet]