People boast of the number of times they have watched a particular movie, usually Sholay tops such a list, but Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge too is a worthy competition. I have actually lost count for both the films.
For my generation, DDLJ is a landmark. Whenever any of us asks another about the year we passed our secondary school exams, "Abey 1995. DDLJ release hua tha na, that year," is the usual reply. For us it probably released at the perfect time.
I still remember the first show, three of us schoolmates – two boys and a girl – bunking school and sitting in the second class seats of Shillong's Payal Cinema (the tickets for the cheapest seats cost us Rs 40 each in black. The actual price back then was Rs 1.65). The release then was a rarity for Shillong – a film hitting the hill city’s screens on the same day as the rest of the country. We usually had to wait for a few months, by then half the city would have already watched it on video tapes. Huge posters of Kajol and Shah Rukh were plastered all over. “Come fall in love,” they said. When the film ended I told the my friend that I’ll come back for more.
Come back I did. As the shows went by I didn’t need to purchase tickets in black anymore and could enjoy the luxuries of the balcony (Rs 5.10) or the Dress Circle/'Payal Circle' (Rs 6.10). During the winter vacations twice or thrice a week I ventured out alone to Payal Cinema and watched Raj romance Simran and win over everyone on and off the screen.
The Raj bug hit many of us hard. A friend actually turned into a SRK in DDLJ clone and thereby earned the affections of many of the girls around. Even today, whenever I happen to come across the film on TV, I give the remote a little rest for a while.
Aditya Chopra had indeed made a great film, something that was right for its time and perhaps cannot be replicated again. Much like Sholay. The story, the music, the performances – all had an endearing charm about it. From snowy Switzerland to mustard yellow Punjab, the trip had us in a trip. The Rajs of the world looked for their Simrans and vice versa.
In retrospect, I might analyse and raise a few questions. But back then, for the teenaged me, it was a movie made for me. Made for us.
DDLJ also introduced me to another thing - Stross beer (in film advertising works). It was the first beer that I tasted and I had made a pen stand out of that very first beer can. I think I still have that somewhere.
Though I didn’t go out shopping for the leather jacket and the cap or join mandolin classes, I did look for those little lockets that SRK wore, without success. Another thing that I happened to notice, DDLJ perhaps began the trend of movies deriving their titles from popular songs.
In the usual post-movie alternative endings discussions, one question was common – what if Raj was unable to reach out to Simran and pull her on the train? What if? There have been so many memes around this. Nothing much though. His Pops would have pulled the chain.
While the dilwale took the dulhaniya away, we all sat in the dark hall and fell in love.