25 years ago today, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge hit the theatres and redefined Bollywood's romance genre
The iconic Bollywood blockbuster Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge was released today, 25 years ago, on October 20 – etching the names of Raj and Simran forever in our hearts.
A game-changer for the romance genre, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge remains the longest running film in the history of Indian cinema, drawing people of all ages and walks of life to cinema halls over two decades.
Upon release, Shah Rukh Khan was instantly hailed as the ‘king of romance,’ hitherto known for playing compelling anti-heroes. And Kajol became every man’s dream girl with her old-fashioned etiquette, contagious grace, and courage to do right by her heart. Aditya Chopra, the debutant director, found himself massive acclaim.
According to Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge: A Modern Classic, several meetings took place between Aditya and Shah Rukh before the latter could be convinced to appear in a romantic role.
Film critic-journalist Anupama Chopra wrote, “Shah Rukh thought that romances were ‘pansy’, effete. He wasn’t interested in singing songs in pretty locations and then eloping with the girl, as was the Bollywood norm. Besides, the other two Khan heroes – Aamir and Salman – were playing the lover boy roles with great success, and Shah Rukh was happy to be regarded as a hatke (different) actor,”
Aditya briefly considered Saif Ali Khan to play the lead role while Shah Rukh remained unpersuaded. While shooting for Karan Arjun, the actor finally changed his mind and yielded to Aditya’s wish.
Kajol, a newcomer in the mid ‘90s, initially thought her character was bland. But her aversion soon turned to admiration for Simran.
In an interview, the actor later admitted, “I realized there is a lot of a lot of Simran in almost everybody we know, there is always that wanting to do the right thing in someone. Lots of people don’t do the right thing but we always want to just do that.”
“You want to get that approval, you want to get that feeling of you are approved of and that you are doing something right in the world. So, yes Simran was like that. I thought she was just cool, a little old-fashioned but cool,” She added.
Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge revolves around two non-resident Indians (NRIs), Raj and Simran, who run into each other in a Europe trip and soon fall in love. However, when Simran’s conservative family tries to marry her off, Raj comes all the way to Punjab to prove the worth of his love and commitment to Simran.
Starring iconic actors like Amrish Puri, Anupam Kher, Farida Jalal and Parmeet Sethi, the film deftly examined NRI sensibilities and the notions of love and marriage in a conservative Indian family. To this day, the romance drama holds its own against the assault of time.
To mark the anniversary, a bronze statue of Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol are being unveiled today at London’s Leicester Square.