Sunday, 2 September 2012

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge

Directed by: Aditya Chopra
Starring: Shahrukh Khan, Kajol, Amrish Puri, Farida Jalal, Anupam Kher
Released: 1995
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

I was deeply disappointed by Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. It is a film you will find in all the „must see“ Bollywood lists, it is massively popular and what is even more amazing it is still running in the theaters. For some it is the best of the best Bollywood movies ever. An evergreen classic. And it did not blow me away at all when I saw it the first time. I still remember how I was sitting in front of the screen as the closing credits rolled, me rather baffled, and I thought to myself: „Was that it?“ I failed to see the greatness there should be to rave about completely. But then after some time I returned to the film. And since then I have done so about four times. And other times I watched just small portions of it. And I realized that the beauty of DDLJ is in its simplicity and repeat value. It does not have the most amazing plot twist and it is all in all quite predictable, it does not have gorgeous sets to take your breath away and editing is a bit sloppy at times, but the film has an unusual freshness to it that can still be felt years after it first released and got so many fans.

This really wouldn´t be my reaction over prospect of being stuck with SRK....
The story line is notoriously known so let´s just sum it up quickly: Europe. Raj meets Simran. Simran hates Raj because he saw her bra and actually can play a piano. Raj doesn´t rape Simran even though they spend a night in a closed space together. Simran and Raj fall in love. But oh! Simran´s dad is Amrish Puri which in itself spells trouble. And indeed we are given his famous deadly stare and off goes Simran to India and her arranged fiancé she has never even seen. Raj, fully armed with a mandoline and a cow bell, follows, chupke chupke. Raj convinces everyone, while being in disguise, he is the most perfect guy ever. Amrish Puri deadly stares as he finds out the truth. Raj apologizes for even trying and makes a quick exit. Amrish Puri deadly stares as a train with Raj starts to move forward. They stare at each other. Still staring. Amrish Puri has a sudden change of heart and urges Simran to outrun the train and hop on. Simran runs. Running. Dramatic music in the background. Simran catches Raj´s hand and he pulls her into the train. 

One of the most famous Bollywood endings has actually many shortcomings. Why doesn´t the train actually move at the speed it should. Why doesn´t Simran hop into the nearest door and instead needs to outrun several carriages. Why the hell doesn´t Raj actually step out of the train? But as I´ve said before, DDLJ is not a perfect, flawless film. It has loads of fluffy charm to make up for it. Not even the performances are award-worthy (though numerously awarded), but there is so much earnestness in young Shahrukh Khan and natural appeal in Kajol you believe them without a complaint. It is no secret I am no fan of their jodi, as appalling as it sounds to many of you. I think they look like siblings most of the time. DDLJ however presented them so well even I couldn´t rant about my reservations towards the couple. Still, it shall forever be a great sorrow to me that DDLJ could not have been made with the original choice for Simran, the unfortunate Divya Bharti...

People usually rave about the second part of the movie, which almost entirely belongs to Shahrukh Khan as Raj, whilst Kajol as Simran remains largely passive, letting him do what he seems fit - after all that is what he asks her to do. I personally enjoyed the first part with their bonding in Switzerland more, it had more of things actually happening and there was more delightful comedy involved, it was also a lot less tear-heavy. The supporting character actors were dearly loved people whom we have learned to see in every other movie. They all do what we are used to know from them. Amrish Puri being the negative person in the film (but for once not evil), Farida Jalal an understanding and gentle mother, Anupam Kher a slightly whacky dad who interferes with everybody´s bussiness. All were lovely to watch. Though as a person who knows Karan Johar primarily as a TV host and a director of awful films it was kind of bizzare to watch him on screen as one of SRK´s friends...

"Actually, keep your daughter. Our kids could inherit your stare."
Great deal in the film´s appeal also lies in an extremely melodious and catchy soundtrack. It involves two pretty much iconic songs Tujhe Dekha To and Mehndi Laga Ki Rakhna, but all the tracks are good.

DDLJ is definitely overrated when labeled as perfect and the best ever film. But it is undeniably an all time classic with a truly tremendous repeat value, and it definitely belongs to all those „must see“ lists, even though if only as a reference point to the modern Bollywood romance it has become alongside two other biggies – Hum Aapke Hain Koun and Dil To Pagal Hai. The big three to bring romance and family values back after all the action packed massalas that ruled the cinemas for years post Sholay. It also remains the best Aditya Chopra work till date. In fact, I don´t think he came even close with any of his other movies. A begginer´s luck perhaps?


  1. Very interesting review.
    I was very late seeing DDLJ, about 5 years after my passion for Bollywood started, and I was very scared I wouldn't like it - after all I was in my Anurag Kashyap phase then. However, I just loved it.
    As you say, it's not flawless or perfect or any of the like at all. But there's something about it.

    1. It is one of those films I appreciate more with passing time. Like Dil Se. But while with Dil Se one need time to actually understand what the hell just happened, DDLJ was simply a let down because of great expectations. They never work for any film. I really think the best asset of DDLJ is the repeat value it has.

  2. Hi! I always read your blog and I think your reviews are great - specially the K3G one, that I probably read more than 10 times (and my friends also love it!).

    About DDLJ, like Mette said, I was very scared I wouldn't like it. The problem was that I really didn't. Maybe Raj was dominating things too much for my taste, maybe Simran was too annoying in the first part and passive in the second, maybe her inflexible father made me angry, or maybe it was all that together. When I watched the movie for the second time, I could see why people love it: they are young, things are cute, Europe is great, let's run through Punjabi fields and dream about love. It's truly not the best film ever (ne-ver), but it's a sweet story that contains most of the romantic spirit from the 90's. Now I appreciate it much more, specially the drunken Kajol song.

    I always say it in my comments on blog, english isn't very good, so I apologize if I can't make myself clear sometimes. I always have to make 'superficial' comments, as I don't know how to say what I want...

    1. There is nothing superficial about your comment and your English is great! :D At least from what me, a non-native-English speaker can tell.

      Yeah, I also didn´t really like it at first. I didn´t understand how would such a fun loving boy like Raj fall for a party pooper Simran etc etc etc. But today I really think it is a good film, though it does not sit among my very favourites.

      Thank you for liking my K3G review! :D I usually get more hate than love because of that one.

    2. Sometimes Bollywood romances fail in explaining why people have fallen in love. DDLJ has this problem. I feel that we must understand that 'love happens' and carry on. Simran was never kind to Raj and he was annoying to her. Suddenly there's the church scene and the message is given: she is sweet and he likes it. It's ok for a silly young romance, but's not enough base for the (super) deep love they have for each other after that.

      That's why I think about the second part as something new, not much connected with the first. They're grown, I don't know that whole new Raj (but I like him, at least he's not bullying girls in trains) and my talkative Simran gave place to a girl who is divided between what Raj and her rather tell her to do.

      I think I like DDLJ in parts (?). I like the drunken song, how Shahrukh was young and full of energy, the Punjabi feeling. If only the characters were better written...

      Maybe I'm analyzing too much a 90's romance, but Bolly is so much richer when we do that! :)

      I should introduce you to your brazilian fans of the K3G review. Our love will certainly suppress all the hate!

    3. In Bollywood the lack of love development is a common thing. DDLJ had at least something... most of the time it´s just "I saw you and I will die for you" twist, and that I rarely buy. I agree with you that the carachters were not exactly best written. And what fun would ther be without analyzing? :D

  3. Actually, I enjoyed DDLJ right from the start!

    I feel DDLJ is the best love story i've ever seen. It has charm. It has wit. It has love. It has hate. It has anger. It has arranged marriages. It has overprotective parents. And the list goes on and on..

    It basically sums up the typical indian family/boy/girl. I know because that's what's happening in my family. :D

    But all jokes apart, I feel DDLJ is under-appreciated by alot of people. I have indian friends who would rather watch Gangs of Wasseypur 2 rather than DDLJ. Though I have no qualms against the afore-mentioned movie, I actually do think that only an idiot would pass DDLJ for a gangster movie. :/

    And the songs are the best part for me. Especially Zara Sa Jhoom Lo Mai. I find it so funny! The choreography was a little non-existent but the lyrics were really good. And the mehndi scene where kajol was to be married off to her 'fiance' with Ghar A Ja Pardesi playing in the background was wonderfully put together.

    May I suggest you watch Bachna Ae Haseeno starring Ranbir Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Minissha Lamba & Bipasha Basu? I would love to hear what you think about it.. :)

    1. Well, no film is loved by one and all. I know quite a lot of people who actually dislike DDLJ or do not care about it. I grew to like it very much, but well... it took me some time.

      I have seen BAH about a month ago, so my review will definitely appear sooner or later ;) Thank you for the comment and reading!

    2. That's fantastic! Would love to read your review. I've grown quite fond of reading your entries. It's very interesting. :)