For all the talk about the Bollywood ‘formula’, there really isn’t one. The Indian audience is highly unpredictable – you never know what catches their fancy. It isn’t surprising to see films with big stars and bigger sets flop at the Box Office while movies made on a shoestring budget take away all the accolades. But what is this ‘formula’? There was a time when a Helen dance number was added to a film and her buxom likeness was painted over the posters because a film with a Helen dance number would always work. There was also a time when every Hema Malini film rocked the BO – it hardly mattered what she did.
Then came DDLJ and the famous SRK-Kajol chemistry. The two made eyes at each other in Switzerland and suddenly, an entire generation of Indians fell head over heels in love with love. It’s been decades since the film’s release and DDLJ still continues to be the quintessential Bollywood film. What could easily have become extremely cringe-worthy (like dancing in a sarson ke khet) suddenly became an aspiration for couples. Raj Malhotra – long may he reign – set impossibly high standards just by doing the bare minimum. Yes, the bar was so low that when a comparatively ‘nice’ guy like Raj was seen getting the girl on screen, millions of men suddenly realised that maybe, just maybe, it pays to not be super creepy.
*intermission so you can watch the video below*
Simran, on the other hand, was a rebel – but not too much. Her rebelliousness could be ‘forgiven’, after all, the girl was in love and who hasn’t done foolish things in the name of love? DDLJ was perfect because it expertly catered to the rebellious teen AND the conservative older generation. Raj and Simran’s love story wasn’t ‘arranged’ by their parents but it finally reached its climax only because bauji stepped in. Malhotra made an effort, not only to woo the lady but also her parents and that made all the difference. Love isn’t easy, people realised, it required hard work and a guy who can hum tujhe dekha toh yeh jaana sanam decently well.
However, most importantly, like with Bollywood films of this type, DDLJ offers us hope and comfort. It helps us believe that maybe, just maybe, things do work out the way you want them to. Because when Kajol runs the length of the train and flies into SRK’s arm, the Universe heaves a sigh of relief – love may have been beaten black and blue by Kuljeet and gang but at the end of the day . . . love has won.