Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge- Foreign Film Review

As you might not know, I'm an FFF a.k.a a Foreign Film Freak. I adore watching foreign films since I consider them usually more interesting than the watery-weak Hollywood films of today and offer fascinating insights on the cultures of the countries they are set in.

For my very first foreign film review (drumroll please!) I'm going to write on the Bollywood film of 1995 called Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. I chose a B'wood film because I grew up watching them and these experiences partly served to whet my appetite for foreign films.

And DDLJ, as it is fondly abbreviated among the Indians, is one of the freshest, funniest and most heart-warming films out there ( Bollywood or otherwise). After many years and many more B'wood movies, this movie still ranks as numero uno on my list of Bollywood Top Ten.

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge -(literal English translation) The Brave-hearted will Carry Off the Bride.

Simran Singh (Kajol) is a bright-eyed plucky young girl living with her parents in London. Her father Chuadery Baldev Singh is an Indian shopkeeper who emigrated to England when Simran was a little girl, but who has never found acceptance in England. He thinks of India with deep nostalgia, and is careful to educate Simran and her sister in Indian ways, fearing that they will be spoilt by Western notions.

As a result, Simran's childhood is sheltered, but restricted. She dreams of finding true love but these dreams are dashed when her father receives a letter from his best friend in India, who reminds him of the promise he had made twenty years ago. Baldev had promised his friend that he would marry his daughter Simran to his friend's son Kuljit. Simran has always known of this arrangement, but she had hoped that her father would relax ( or forget) this imposition.

Knowing that once she goes back to India and marries Kuljit she might never have adventure, she persuades her father to let her tour Europe for one month with her friends. Her father gives her his blessing, and she departs for lands unknown.

Enter Raj Malhotra! At first glance,  Raj seems like your average Indian jock ( if there exists such a thing). He plays every sport invented by mankind, and never says no to a beautiful lady requesting a lift. He's just failed university, but his rich businessman father does not mind such ruination, and instead promises him he'll fix him a job at his office. Raj agrees, but first tells his father that before he settles to a life of utter drudgery (!), he wants to tour Europe.

Thus, on that well-fated Europe trip, Raj and Simran meet, and it's hate at first sight. Simran thinks Raj is a flirt and a fool ( in reverse order) and Raj tries to win her interest. They are of course, thrown together during the course of the trip and they... fall in love!

Yippee! This calls for some energetic dancing in the streets! But, no. Simran is going to be married. To a perfect stranger. To someone who isn't exasperatingly engaging Raj Malhotra. Whatever is she going to do?

I won't reveal the rest of the story. Suffice to say, that DDLJ keeps you on your toes (or rocking with laughter) the entire three-hour trip. What really makes this movie utterly enchanting is the sparkling chemistry between Kajol and Shah Rukh Khan ( Raj). Shah Rukh Khan wears the Roadside Romeo persona like a second skin, and it truly is wonderful to see how he and Kajol complement each other. In fact, they are the most famous onscreen couple in India today, and it's not hard to see why. We fall in love with them through their witty banter, fights, and mutual respect for each other.

Another winning feature of the film is the take on family. The movie does not centre on the couple alone. Each family member from the young sister to the frail old grandmother has a part. And when the scene shifts to India, family takes over as a central theme of the narrative.

And what Bollywood movie would be complete without songs? The DDLJ songs ( like the movie) are still fresh and catchy. In fact, I plan to play some of them at my own wedding ( if I ever do get married).
Here's a sprightly number:

The only caveat I can think of is the fact that the Western clothes appear painfully outdated. However, when the actors move to India, they adopt Indian garb which looks fine, as such clothing is still worn by Indian people today.

There is very little swearing/bad language ( I can't recall any words at the moment, which should be a good thing), and there are no sex scenes. There are what I term "coy" scenes, but the film remains clean overall. I was six when I watched this as a kid, and I think that children aged ten and above can see it. It'd definitely one of my favourite family movies.
 Fun bit of trivia: this movie is still playing in selected Indian theatres today. It is the longest running Indian movie ( theatrically) and still garners good ticket sales. Imagine that! 15 years in a theatre! You can also rent/buy the dvd with decent English subtitles.

I showed this movie to a friend who'd never watched Bollywood movies before, and she loved it. Even if you're not a romantic, you will enjoy DDLJ. And after watching it I can guarantee that you will start to despise the Hollywood "romantic comedies". DDLJ combines both romance and comedy in such a winning combination that you won't help but savour each delicious moment.


  1. I would highly recommend you check out "Vivah". :) It is an excellent Bollywood film, very heartwarming. The entire film is on youtube. :)

  2. We've seen countless romcoms come and go - the ones we watch, re-watch, fast forward through to our fav scenes, cut to our favorite songs. I've done that with Jab we Met, Salaam Namaste, Saathiya, Hum Tum, Band Baaja Baraat. But I can quite frankly watch DDLJ over and over, frame by frame, without touching that remote.


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