‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ is to the 90s kids what ‘Sholay’ was to the cinema lovers in the 70s. 22 years have gone by since the film’s release but the charm of Shah Rukh Khan as Raj and the wrath of Amrish Puri as Bauji has stood the test of time. Such kind of success has no formula to it though it gives birth to a school of thought that believes in creating a formula out of it.
22 years hence, looking back at DDLJ, we realise that there were many factors that worked for the film at the time and some still continue to do the same.
Calling SRK’s Raj the soul of DDLJ would be an understatement. We have seen many heroes of similar nature since then but none quite like him. The formula of a bad boy who turns good for his lady and then remains on the good path sounds cliche now but for the modern era of Hindi cinema, this was a first. He is a rich spoiled brat but his morality stays intact. Even with immense wealth, his sanskars have stayed on point. This factor gives the hero an edge. He never turns into the saccharin-ed goody two-shoes but he is also not the one one to be scared of. The middle path is his road to success and that makes him lovable even with all his so-called bad habits.
Another factor that still wins over the audience is the love story of Raj and Simran. Hindi cinema has no shortage of love stories. In fact, most of our commercial films still have a love story track reserved for the story, even if it doesn’t fit into the film. But no matter how much realism we might want in our films, we still like to get served with a fair bit of fantasy every now and then. And for that, Raj and Simran became #CoupleGoals even before it was a thing.
DDLJ came at a time when globalisation of Hindi cinema was still in its infancy stage and of course, the NRI factor hit the nail on the head. With desh ki mitti and sarson ke khet, Aditya Chopra presented the idea of love for one’s home-country way better than Akshay Kumar does with the commercials of Kajaria tiles.
This was Aditya Chopra’s first directorial venture and probably the one he will be remembered for in Hindi cinema’s history and deservedly so. Now 22 years later, and living in a more aware but cynical society, the audience can see the stalker-y ways of Raj and the corny nature of the lead couple’s romance. Had the film been made today, it probably wouldn’t have elicited the response it got back then but then, we would have probably missed out on the magnanimous persona of Shah Rukh Khan.
The lip-sync songs in our films are a part of the narrative unlike many other film industries of the world. And more often than not, they play a role in a film’s success. In DDLJ’s case, the music by Jatin Lalit deserves much of the credit. The beautifully composed melodies are still remembered as one of the pillars of 90s Hindi film music.
The audience likes a bit of fantasy when they enter a dark theater and of course, we like to change things up once in a while but a perfect world where all is well in the end gives us a chance to escape from our daily mundane lives and DDLJ is reminder of those good old days where romance wasn’t dependent on blue ticks of WhatsApp and love was treated with sanctity in films.
A generation shift has happened since the release of DDLJ and while it might not mean too much to the youngsters, the ones who grew up watching Raj and Simran will always be just a little too invested in their world.