Magic Movie: Twenty-five years after first being screened, DDLJ’s popularity seems to be still going strong

By: |
October 21, 2020 5:15 AM

It is hard to point to one single factor why this movie about a lovestruck duo seeking parental approval—a plot as old as cinema itself—has clicked so phenomenally.

Nevertheless, even those who scoff at the movies would be stuck for an answer if asked to name one Bollywood movie that enjoys this kind of popularity.Nevertheless, even those who scoff at the movies would be stuck for an answer if asked to name one Bollywood movie that enjoys this kind of popularity.

To the uninitiated, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ) would seem an oddity in these times—when ‘direct to OTT’ is feared to a terse epitaph for the box office, here is a 25-year-old film that may still get screened in a movie-hall (Maratha Mandir) once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted. Of course, nearly all of DDLJ’s enduring popularity could boil down to what is known on the internet as ‘90s Nostalgia. Nevertheless, even those who scoff at the movies would be stuck for an answer if asked to name one Bollywood movie that enjoys this kind of popularity.

It is hard to point to one single factor why this movie about a lovestruck duo seeking parental approval—a plot as old as cinema itself—has clicked so phenomenally. Maybe it was the ‘first-time’ visuals of picturesque European locations or the musical score or the fact that DDLJ launched Shahrukh Khan as Bollywood’s ‘king of romance’ and introduced the casting magic that is Kajol-Shahrukh (Baazigar and Karan Arjun are just not the same). Some have even suggested that the dazzle of a new consumption culture—people in India have always looked to the movies for cues on what to buy—pulled audience to a big budget production in those early years of liberalisation, and this popularity perpetuated itself. Now, films are far meatier (even ‘romance’ ones) and the audience a lot more merciless and demanding—prompted by the OTT-handheld-device explosion, preceded by the satellite TV-broadcast rights era. Yet, Raj and Simran have been now cast in bronze in London’s Leicester Square, 25 years after the audience first went ‘aww’ seeing them embrace, as lovers do, in a mustard field in a ‘Punjab village’ (it was Gurgaon, but that never really mattered). That kind of movie legacy is certainly rare.

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