On the occasion of the 26th anniversary of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’s release, a new short film pays tribute to the film, which had been running for a record 25 years at Mumbai’s Maratha Mandir Cinema, and explores its social impact on the sex workers of Kamathipura. The 13-minute short film, titled ‘Maratha Mandir Cinema’, is releasing on the Gorilla Short YouTube Channel on October 20, the 26th anniversary of DDLJ. Directed by novelist turned filmmaker Pankaj Dubey, this film features noted actors Sarika, Swanand Kirkire, Tanvi Ravindra Sangvai and Rajeev K Panday. The film is a poignant portrait of sex workers in Kamathipura in Mumbai and their hapless dreams.
The short film is named after the single screen theatre, Maratha Mandir, that screened DDLJ every day for the past 25 years until the Covid-19 induced lockdown forced the theatre to pull down its shutters. The Raj-Simran cult romance is the longest running Hindi film of all times with a historic 1274 week run at Maratha Mandir theatre.
Very few people know how important the film was to the commercial sex workers from the neighbouring red-light district of Kamathipura, India’s second biggest red-light district. In their contrasting world of flesh and fetid breaths, DDLJ has been an aroma of liberation, love and the promise of a better life. The film revolves around the life of a young woman called Simran. Simran is a young girl raised in Kamathipura. Her heart nests in the neighbourhood theatre - Maratha Mandir - where DDLJ is the only escape route from the drudgery and coercive environment. It is not just a film for her but hope of love and liberation.
Actor and lyricist Swanand Kirkire says, “It was quite humbling to play a significant character in this story which keeps the most neglected section of our society at the centre of discussion."
The short film has been scripted by Shraddha Singh and has layered lyricism as a core of storytelling. It has also been a crowd-funded initiative. Director Pankaj Dubey says, “The short was crowd funded by my alumni friends from 2002 batch of the Campus Law Centre, University of Delhi. I was moved by the magical impact of this romantic film on the somber world of the sex workers in Kamathipura. It inspired me to create visual empathy on the canvas with the help of this short fiction as a social tool."
You can watch the short film here:
The Filmfare nominated short has travelled to Cannes and Vancouver and has gathered love and accolades wherever it has gone. It is being released on Gorilla Shorts as the 6th Story of their new series called Offbeats S1. The earlier stories of the series, like Chaddi and Station Master Phool Kumar, have already been successful on YouTube and Disney+Hotstar. Maratha Mandir Cinema promises to be another engaging and entertaining episode in this anthology series.