DDLJ: a phenomenon that defies explanation
May 5, 2007 - 8:25:13 AM
New Delhi, May 5 - Boy meets girl, sparks fly, love blossoms, parents disapprove but finally true love triumphs. In Aditya Chopra's hands that very predictable plotline transformed into the magical 'Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge' which has completed an incredible 600 weeks.
With Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol in the lead, a crackling script and the rolling hills of Switzerland competing with the green mustard fields of rural Punjab, DDLJ, as the film is referred to, became a landmark.
In a phenomenon that perhaps defies explanation, the movie has been playing in Mumbai's Maratha Mandir theatre for the last 12 years since its release on Oct 20, 1995 - breaking the record set by 'Sholay' by a full seven years.
And the crowds are still coming in, notwithstanding the many DVDs and VCDs floating around.
'Even today the film has 60 to 70 percent bookings on week days. On Sundays and bank holidays, it runs house full,' Praveen Vithal Rane, manager of Maratha Mandir, told IANS over the phone from Mumbai.
The single screen theatre runs other movies as well, but the matinee show has been booked for DDLJ for the last 12 years. And Rane says it will continue to be so.
'Why should we discontinue when it is still having 60 to 70 percent booking? It will run for 100 to 150 weeks more,' said Rane.
Though the plot was not really different, the packaging worked. The chemistry between the lead pair - Shah Rukh and Kajol went on to make many more hits after this - and the very real depiction of Indian families in England and in Punjab struck a real chord.
What was different was that the two NRI kids who fall in love decide not to rebel but get married only with their parents' blessings.
And audiences lapped up that mix of tradition and modernism given to them by the debutant 23-year-old director - that's just what they would like their children to be, well educated but 'Indian' to the core.
The results were more encouraging than anyone could have anticipated. It opened to packed houses and rave reviews.
'It touched a chord in Indians all over the world. It prompted them to go back to their country, traditions and roots. DDLJ was the first romance where the boy takes the girl away only with the parents' consent. The whole process of winning over the girl's family was unique,' Yash Chopra was quoted as saying about the film's success.
Film critic Anupama Chopra echoed the same feeling.
'It's not a real story. And these things don't happen in real life. But it didn't feel manipulated. The story was told from the heart, acted from the heart and it had an emotional honesty, which connects with the audience even today.
'I saw it in Maratha Mandir four years back while I was researching for my book on DDLJ. I had to buy tickets in black. And inside the hall people were clapping and singing. Overall it leaves a kind of magic. And the tickets are so cheap,' she said.
Since its release, a lot has changed, especially for its lead actors and director.
DDLJ turned out to be a gold spinner for the Chopras.
'The film has done many things for me. It has helped us to realise so many of our dreams. When I came to realise that distributors aren't quite upfront in their dealings, I decided to become my own distributor. For the first time, we saw big money. I asked my son what he wanted. He said he wanted that we should have our own studio,' said Chopra.
Today, the Chopras own a state-of-the-art studio at the outskirts of Mumbai and this year's Filmfare Award ceremony was organised there in true Oscar style. And Aditya, who has become the creative head of Yash Raj Films, plans to make an action film with Shah Rukh. This is going to be only his second directorial venture.
DDLJ's Raj gave Shah Rukh the platform to leap into big time showbiz, from a struggling actor to a one man show. With his unconventional looks, nobody expected him to make such an impact on audiences as the romantic hero.
'Shah Rukh has gone from strength to strength. DDLJ gave him a prototype of next superstar. Just like 'Zanjeer' gave a prototype to Amitabh Bachchan,' said Anupama.
It also launched Kajol, not conventionally good looking either, into the big league. After giving several more hits and becoming Bollywood's number one heroine, Kajol took a long break to settle down and is currently enjoying her life with hubby Ajay Devgan and daughter Nysa.
She made a comeback with 'Fanaa' last year and will be soon seen in hubby's directorial debut 'U, Me Aur Hum'.
Karan Johar, who assisted Aditya in the film and had a walk-on part as Shah Rukh's friend, has established himself as one of the most sought after directors in filmdom. He has three blockbusters - 'Kuch Kuch Hota Hai', 'Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham' and 'Kal Ho Naa Ho' in his kitty.
Not to forget the gauche Mandira Bedi who had a small role in the film and has gone on to become a celebrity 'cricket anchor' hitting the headlines.
DDLJ bagged all the popular awards of the year including a National Award for the Best Film - for popular and wholesome entertainment.
Last year in October 2006, the consul general of Switzerland in Mumbai organised a formal dinner to congratulate the stars and producers of the movie for its record-breaking long run in Mumbai.
But 12 years is a long time, witnessing some good and some bad too.
Amrish Puri, who played the stern patriarch, has passed away since and the composer duo Jatin-Lalit, who churned out eternal hits 'Mere khwaabon mein', 'Mehndi lagaake rakhna' and 'Tujhe dekha to', has split.
DDLJ may have broken the record established by 'Sholay', which ran continuously for five years at Minerva cinema hall, but it still has some time before it enters the Guinness Book of World Records, which is held by a Chinese film running continuously for the last 20 years.
Who knows, however? DDLJ might just be that one Indian film to be watched by generations of moviegoers.
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