October 20, 2020 marks 25 years since Yash Chopra’s Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ), stole the hearts of millions worldwide. The enchanting love story between Raj and Simran, played by Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol, has earned them the title of Bollywood’s favourite jodi, and their thrilling journey to come together continues to be relevant, even a quarter of a century later.
The movie that had us all gripping the edges of our seats, and perhaps shedding a few tears, was listed in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die by Steven Schneider, making it one of the only three Indian films to make the cut.
But what makes DDLJ so special? Isn’t it just another romantic Bollywood flick?
Aside from it being the longest grossing Indian film in history, which continues to play at the Maratha Mandir cinema in Mumbai, India, it’s also famous for its unconventional storyline, and powerful, but seemingly contradictory messages that are portrayed.
The concept of balancing both our personal lives while keeping our families happy seems like a bit of an oxymoron, especially considering the seemingly upward battle of pleasing everyone around us. With that being said, the two overarching themes of DDLJ include following your heart regardless of coming challenges, but also being respectful of our elders, (namely our parents).
Growing up in an Indian household, I’m sure we all can relate to the hardships involved in living our lives on our own terms all while keeping up with our parents’ expectations. But, movies such as DDLJ give us hope that everything will work out for the best in the end.
In Simran’s case, her father promised her hand in marriage to the son of his friend, putting a wrench in her dream to fall in love naturally with someone she meets herself. The ability to fall in love and marry someone of your own choosing can be seen as a privilege to some people.
In countries such as India where arranged marriages are popular, and still practiced in many immigrant communities today, many young people are forced to be in relationships against their will, or that they do not agree with.
Arranged marriages such as Simran’s in DDLJ can take place for a number of reasons, including for the opportunity to escape poverty, for religious reasons, and also to “protect,” family honour.
However, as times have changed, arranged marriages aren’t as commonly practiced, as they do not have a guaranteed success rate. Of course, they have worked out for a number of people, but the main issue comes down to the fact that in some cases, the couple has little say in the matter.
The relatability to Simran’s experience of the overarching pressure from her father, plus having him plan out aspects of her life without her consent, makes DDLJ easy to sympathize with.
Whether or not it’s via arranged marriage, career plans, or the many other aspects of our lives, the pressures put upon us from our parents can sometimes feel relentless..
However, as is evident with Simran’s father arranging her marriage to a stranger, they might not always be right regardless of their tendency to think they know what’s best for us.
Most importantly though and at the end of it all, our parents only want us to be happy, and judging that Simran’s father lets her be with Raj in the end, we can truly see that our parents’ pressure comes from a place of care and love.
Audiences across the globe fell in love with Simran’s sensible, beautiful spirit and Raj’s charming, humorous personality. They are relatable characters that resonate with us due to their lovable characteristics, resilience, and drive to follow their hearts. DDLJ’s unique plot and ability to relate to a wide array of audiences has inspired various other Bollywood flicks in a way never seen before.
Multiple movies thereafter such as “Kal Ho Na Ho,” “Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham,” and “Khabi Alvida Na Khena,” to name a few, follow similar plots and even incorporate similar scenes and locations as DDLJ. In fact, variations of the infamous train scene at the very end of the movie can be seen in countless flicks, and serves as a reminder to us all to follow our hearts and “Come… Fall in love.”