Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, it is quite evident that this movie is one of the biggest phenomenons of Indian cinema. The movie has completed 26 years today and still finds a place in the hearts of people who weren’t even born when it was released. DDLJ set the standards for one of the most popular tropes of Bollywood – a carefree, fun-loving casanova boy who doesn’t think he can fall in love and a geeky, simple, hopeful girl who needs to take permission from her father to go on a trip, our very own ‘Raj & Simran’.
The movie was released 26 years back, it is but natural that it has elements people might find problematic today but that doesn’t take away the fact that DDLJ gave a lot to the audience and to Bollywood. Everything about this film, from its dialogues to its songs, became an intrinsic part of Indian culture. It’s the genesis of the iconic dialogue, “Bade bade deshon mein aisi choti choti baatein hoti rehti hain.” Also, is it possible to watch this movie and not expect that our soulmates will definitely turn back to look at us if they truly love us? I think not! The protective father trope of Amrish Puri was made popular, thanks to DDLJ. The “Jaa Simran jaa, jee le apni zindagi” made all our hearts happy and hopeful and we all owe it to DDLJ that we learned how to feed pigeons with “Aao, aao.”
Apart from these iconic dialogues, another very special element of this film is its protagonist and the actor who played the character. We can never imagine Raj and Simran being played by anyone else but SRK and Kajol. How they both lived and breathed these characters throughout the film is what made it what it is. SRK, with that beautiful hair and iconic wardrobe throughout the film, has stayed with and will continue to do so. Similarly, Kajol, right from dancing in her towel to sporting the geeky glasses on the trip to finally dressed as a bride in that unconventional dulhan outfit has given us the iconic Simran. These characters wouldn’t be so special to us if not for these brilliant actors. Both SRK and Kajol were at their peak during this movie.
We can not talk about DDLJ without mentioning its music. This movie easily has one of the most romantic and upbeat albums. “Mere khwabon mein jo aaye” is the anthem of hopeful romantic girls waiting for the love of their live, “ho gaya hai tujko toh pyaar sajna” has given words to that realisation of being in love, “zara sa jhoom loon main” made being drunk together with the person you love in Switzerland look so cute, “tujhe dekha toh yeh jana sanam” is the love anthem of when two people are deep in love and are aware of it and of course, “mehendi lagake rakhna” is a song that every Indian wedding is incomplete without. It sorted the sangeet scenes of Indian weddings for generations. However, my personal favourite has to be “ruk jaa o dil deewane”, a criminally underrated song that is so feel-good, you just imagine yourself dressed in the gorgeous green gown as Kajol with SRK singing for you.
However, the most significant takeaway from this movie has to be the expectations it sets of true love. No matter what generation you belong to, the love story finds its relevance in your life and a place in your heart because, let’s be honest, don’t we all want that ‘once in a lifetime’ sort of love story? It made us believe that there’d be someone who would come all the way from another corner of the world to win you over, that no matter how strict our parents maybe, in the end, they give in to our happiness and love and everything sorts out in the end. All the obstacles that come in the way of the love story suddenly feel totally worth it and I think that's why happy endings are such a big thing, especially in Bollywood. They give us hope and fill us up with joy and that’s what is most important.
There is a reason the movie ran in theatres for so long and people went to watch it again and again. A senior colleague of mine recalls watching it three times when he was only 14. People going to Maratha Mandir to watch it even after so long says a lot about what place DDLJ holds in our hearts. When I talked to Manoj Desai, the owner of Maratha mandir, I got to know that the screening of DDLJ will resume again there from this Friday. Before Covid, Desai says that on weekends, the shows used to remain housefull and on weekdays, 50 per cent to 60 per cent occupancy was a regular affair.
For people like me who were born years later when this movie was released, it gives us a chance to experience the magic of DDLJ on the big screen. As the movie completes 26 years today, it is just another year of remembering this classic and knowing it will stay with us all like this for many more years to come.