Directed and screenplay by Aditya Chopra
Though the romantic plot of this phenomenally successful film is tired, the details getting the characters into the plot were charmingly different at the time. Both leads were children of Indians living in Britain. The male lead is a rich playboy who fails to graduate, but instead of being angry, his father sends him backpacking through Europe. The female lead is a daughter of a middle class gas station owner who manages to convince her conservative dad to allow her a Europe trip of her own before she has to marry her arranged fiance in India. You can guess what happens when the two leads end up on the same train. The story eventually follows them both to India, where the male lead pretends to bump into the groom and tries to ingratiate himself with the family. The strangest piece of the story happens near the end, where most Bollywoods have trouble sustaining a climax while pulling together all the strands they have accumulated. There is an extremely awkward beating/stoning scene that ends with a clunk that would never make it through a writing workshop, but hey, this is Bombay, y’all. Wink and let it pass.
Song Highlights: I had a fever of 102 when I watched this movie, which was entirely the wrong sort of hallucinatory state to be in. I’d recommend a couple glasses of a nice zin. That way, when the movie gets to the scene where the female lead becomes drunk (accidentally) and whirls through several locations with her male lead (and, until then, rebuffed playboy suitor), you don’t care so much about the terrible lyrics and can enjoy the one good tune in the whole shebang. You, too, might find yourself dancing poolside and running barefoot through the snow.
Tidbits: Shahrukh Khan was already pretty famous when he starred in this movie, and DDLJ (as it is referred to) cemented that status. Kajol, playing the female lead, also rose to stardom due to this film’s success, but not as high as some, such as Madhuri and Ash.
DDLJ was the first film to prominently feature Indians living abroad, and also to really exploit the ability to film in locales around the world. After this, many films featured both of those characteristics.
Rating: 5 Tuffys. Although I do not care for this film, it is a beloved favorite of many, especially (perhaps?) girls who were diasporic teens when it came out. Its trite romantic plot is easily digested by Western audiences spoon-fed Hollywood rom-coms. And–this, to me, is sad and weird–because the songs are not of that high quality, they will be easier on Western ears.
Library Collection: A must because of its popularity in either a historic or entertainment collection.