Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge
Original Title: दिलवाले दुल्हनिया ले जाएँगे
Alternate Titles: DDLJ, The Brave Hearted Will Take Away the Bride
Release Date: October 20, 1995
Director: Aditya Chopra
Screenplay by: Aditya Chopra, Javed Siddiqui
Cast: Shahrukh Khan, Kajol, Amrish Puri, Farida Jalal, Anupam Kher
So this is it- my first EVER review of a proper Indian film. Included in Jenna’s Beginner’s Guide to Indian Cinema, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge will not only be sending me on my Indian film journey, but also opening my world to the amazing on-screen presence of Shahrukh Khan and Kajol.
The film’s plot is simple and straight forward enough- a proper girl, Simran (Kajol), of an Indian family living in London is betrothed to her father’s, the very traditional and India homesick Mr. Singh (Puri), friend but before she leaves London, Simran sets out to tour Europe with her girl friends.
Accidentally, she meets Raj (Khan) a love butterfly player-player who lives in London with his father, the self-made rich ex-Indian farmer Mr. Malhotra (Kher), who upon finding out his son is in love with a woman betrothed to someone else, urges him to go get her.
My first cultural shock was to find that as simple as DDLJ may be, it’s a really REALLY EXTREMELY long film. I had no idea that Indian films were this long, as I found out in other viewings, so as the days have passed I’ve let go of that shock of the 3hr. movie- it actually serves its purpose to build up the characters rather well. Though I found Khan’s character not very likable in the first half of the film, I did warm up to him and cheered by the second half, which boasts more comedic moments. Kajol probably gives the most comedic moment in the whole film during the performance of Zara Sa Jhoom Loon , which has her strutting through Switzerland more than a little tipsy. This alongside her tomboyish self in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and her ‘old’ generation homesick and worrisome Indian mother in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham… has already placed her in my list of all things awesome.
Musically, it’s very understandable why people would still attend screenings of DDLJ to sing along to the songs- they’re really catchy tunes, even if they’re completely impossible to pronounce for me. Surprisingly, the musical sequences in the film don’t feel so much like filler content — the beginning songs feel a bit like it though — but the sequences for Zara Sa Jhoom Loon and Ho Gaya Hai Tujhko , both move the characters forward, while Mehndi Laga Ke Rakhna  and Tujhe Dekha To  boast of visuals to make DDLJ essential viewing for lovers of world cinema.
The film isn’t just merely romcom fluff, though, as it explores elements relating to the diaspora of immigrants — in this case, Simran’s father… a very scary looking Amrish Puri who never feels like he belongs in England, comparing his situation with that of the pigeons he loves to feed, his prejudice over the land that has him as guest, as well as the prejudice towards those who have embraced it as part of themselves.
Overall, though, I do wish Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge could have been -at least- 30min. shorter than it currently stands at. It would be a much easier recommendation. Or as a consolation, I would have liked Kajol’s character to be a bit more proactive in the second half of the film, because it seemed like all her personality had been used during her character build up. However, I do understand that the second half of the story is set up in a way for Raj to win us all over to make that title “The Brave Hearted Will Take Away the Bride” come true.
You can get a copy of DDLJ on DVD with English subtitles | Bluray with English subtitles | Netflix | iTunes US | iTunes OST
Note: The other culture shock was seeing Kajol’s really VERY long eyebrows, which at certain angles do look like a unibrow. I’ve already moved passed it, and so should you.
I’m so glad you liked this movie. You hit a lot of the main points that the movie meant to hit. It also changed the basic film stereotype in India at the time when it was released because of the way the characters actually fought for their rights to marry instead of either acquiescing to an arranged marriage or just eloping. Kajol & SRK are two of my favorite actors. I was sad when she stopped acting for awhile after she got married – but she’s been taking a few roles here and there so her wonderful on-screen charisma is still being utilized. Zara Sa Jhoom Loon Main is one of my all-time favorite picturizations! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched that one.
Also, I know I talked a little bit about the length of the films, but didn’t really go into detail about it yet. The main reason that the movies are so long and they always have been, is because even today there is a large portion of the Indian populace that can only afford one or two movies a year. This means that they are picky about what movies they see. They’ll usually choose to see their favorite Hero or Heroine in a movie, but they might pick a movie based on the popularity too. If the movie isn’t long enough, it doesn’t carry as much entertainment value. That’s also why so many movies that do well in India are still following the old Masala recipe. A little bit romance, a little bit comedy, an dash of action and a WHOOOOLE lot of movie. lol. ;)
@Jenna, ohhhhhhhhhh – that’s interesting to know. Though I would think that going to the cinema for 3 hours would be considered a waste of time, but I guess picking one to watch should be made the best of time. For 1.5hrs movies alone, I usually take like 5hrs of my schedule due to transportation and traffic alone- going to the movies for me has become so stressful nowadays.
Another question- are all Indian romances devoid of kissing as well? Like Julyssa’s frustration over Kdrama romances, hahaha — though I must admit that SRK and Kajol’s number in K3G was super sexy LOL that one got me straight with the epic “my mom is strutting in this london mall” scene.
@amy, Yes, Indian films tend to be pretty chaste – because going with the same theme, most movies are seen with the entire family – so they try to keep that out of the films. Also, the country is still a bit conservative. That doesn’t mean that racier scenes and films aren’t out there. (just look at films like Jism…lol)
Also – with the movies that are 3 hours long they actually DO have intervals/intermission in the theater. So there’s time to get up, stretch, get to the bathroom, etc… Even the main Indian cinema theater here has intermission break when they play the movies. Although, with them, you never know when they’re gonna start the movie back up again. lol.