Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ) is 25 years old on Tuesday, and Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan looks back at the 1995 blockbuster that helped cement his loverboy image that makes women weak in the knees even today.
SRK surprises you by saying he was initially skeptical about his ability to pull off the romantic scenes in the ever-popular love story.
“I was told by many people that I looked unconventional, very different from what the perception of a leading man was. I did feel, maybe, not being handsome enough — or, as they called it back then, ‘chocolaty’ — would make me unsuitable for romantic roles. Also, I am very shy and awkward with ladies, and I didn’t know how I would say all the loving, romantic bits,” Shah Rukh recalled.
“I have to admit, for someone who doesn’t like mushy and romantic films, the scenes Kajol and I did make me feel fuzzy and warm! There, I said it,” he smiled.
Released on October 20, 1995, the Aditya Chopra directorial, which starred SRK and Kajol, the film tells the love story of Raj (SRK) and Simran (Kajol) who live in the UK. The film kicked off the trend of NRI romances on the Bollywood screen and also reorganized romance in Hindi cinema forever.
Recalling playing Raj, SRK said: “Raj was unlike anything I had done. Before ‘DDLJ’, there was ‘Darr’, ‘Baazigar’ and ‘Anjaam’ — films in which I had portrayed negative characters. Also, I always felt that I wasn’t cut out to play any romantic type of character. So, when I was presented with the opportunity by Adi and Yash (Chopra) ji to essay the role, I was excited to work with him but had no idea how to go about it, and also if I would be able to do it well.”
“It was one of those roles that I realised I can do with me using a version of my real self. So, you might see some quirks, habits and mannerisms that were true to my off-screen persona — especially the sense of humour part,” he added.
DDLJ would go on to become the longest-running film in the history of Indian cinema. It ran for over 20 years in Mumbai’s Maratha Mandir theatre.
Apart from Shah Rukh and Kajol, late actor Amrish Puri, Farida Jalal, Anupam Kher, and Parmeet Sethi also left an indelible mark with stellar performances.
Beyond fresh storytelling, characterization and performances, the film is also remembered to this day for the songs Jatin-Lalit composed.
SRK says he still listens to the songs of the film.
“I don’t change the radio channel when a DDLJ song comes on. I can never get sick of them. They bring back memories of a film that shaped my path forward in an unforgettable way,” Shah Rukh reminisced.
According to him, “DDLJ” helped him “cement my place and brought me fame in a way that I didn’t think it would”.
“As for perception, I always felt that I can play more unconventional roles because of my looks, but ‘DDLJ’ has belied that and I still struggle to make that one macho unconventional kicka** character which suits me, or so I thought. But it has been a struggle to not be considered romantic and sweet for the last 25 years — a struggle, I guess, I am happy to lose,” Shah Rukh quipped.