For the uninitiated, DDLJ stands for Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. And since you’ve apparently not seen the movie yet, don't read this, go watch it at Maratha Mandir, Mumbai. 700+ weeks and the balcony was still full.
There's something really warm about visiting a heritage theater and watching a film that 2 generations swear by. Whether or not you like the film, the experience is worth the ride to Mumbai, non-A/C, uncomfortable seats, archaic sound system notwithstanding.
The first time I watched this film was after it was running for 6 months...yeah, those weren't the 'first day first show' days...and all the hype created took its toll. I couldn't see the big deal and, in fact, found it a bit too sappy. But, one thing stuck in my mind, "Wow, there is an alternative to eloping and shooting yourselves when your parents don't agree to your love. And what a dignified way too."
Sure there were films like Maine Pyaar Kiya where the protagonists made a more difficult choice but the families that were against the alliance make an unbelievable transformation. DDLJ certainly made a stronger statement in terms of the values it was trying to propagate.
While most of the sentimental parts made me roll my eyes all over again, the parts that I enjoyed all over again were the more macro bits. The transformation of an only-fun Raj (Shah Rukh Khan) into the all-loving and mega-respectful person doesn't seem unnatural at all. It seemed only natural for a guy who couldn't care less if he didn't want to, to bend backwards when he really wanted to. I could have totally done without Shah Rukh Khan's annoying laughter and stutter, but I cannot deny, albeit shyly and slyly, that I'd love to be looked at the way Raj looks at Simran (Kajol).
Interestingly enough, while the film is all about Raj's love for Simran, Simran is rather spineless. Very much like Raj, she can get her will if she really puts her mind to it. Only she has been raised the conservative way and has only so much gut or isn't raised to be confident about her decisions. Her respect for the older generation is natural yet it comes across as obligatory. Writer-director Aditya Chopra has his way of making the film about his lady protagonist but not really about her. How many people are completely mesmerized by the squealy Kajol? Ok, many. Now compare that to the people who can't stop sighing at the site of Raj. Do I really need a survey for this one?
Then comes the rogue of a father, Choudhary Baldev Singh (Amrish Puri) who is not too far from reality. He takes pride in his family succumbing to and saluting his wishes. Having him think that it was his decision in the end is certainly a master stroke by the writer. That was the only way a man like Baldev Singh would have liked the story to end.
Mamma-darling, Lajjo (Fareeda Jalal), is strong yet unsure. But her
fear respect for her husband precedes everything else in her priorities or the priorities as she sees for her daughters. Remarkably enough, Chutki (Pooja Ruparel) is nothing like her mother or sister. I can see her getting away with more than what Simran was ever "allowed". An insight into the ways of a second child is evident here.
My complaint as I have against all films where the lead lady is being married off to someone else stands true here too. This poor chap is painted black the moment his name is mentioned in the film. What chance does he have? The audience doesn't once see him as a viable choice for their heroine.
There are tons and tons of micro events that were, and remain, extremely annoying. Some of the snore-worthy dialogues take away a lot from the charm of the characters. There are a couple of irritating characters used as comic relief just to help lengthen the runtime.
Nevertheless, the smell of a single screen theater, the entirely different crowd around you, the feeling of being a part of history, the entire ambience, is so abstract that it has to be experienced. Go fall in love with the essence of "Bollywood".