Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge Broadway Adaptation: A film that defined romance and Bollywood films for generations across the globe, it is no surprise that Aditya Chopra’s Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge is being adapted as a Broadway stage musical. Popularly known as DDLJ, this Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol starrer is known to also hold the record for being the longest-running film in the history of Indian cinema. However, DDLJ has its fine share of problems and we so hope that its Broadway adaptation presents a version of the film that is more suited to the 21st century sensibilities.
According to Variety, the adaptation is titled Come Fall In Love – The DDLJ Musical, and will also mark the Broadway debut of its director Aditya Chopra. The musical will feature lyrics by Laurence Oliver Award-winning writer Nell Benjamin and will be choreographed by Tony and Emmy winner Rob Ashford. While Shruti Merchant will work on the show as assistant choreographer, the set design will be helmed by Emmy and Tony Award winner Derek McLane.
Here are some problematic parts of DDLJ that its Broadway adaptation should address and rework:
Glorifying Raj’s creepy behaviour as cute: Yes, there was a time when women would have found a boy like Raj cute, but think of it now, would you entertain possibilities of a romantic relationship with any guy who dangles your bra in front of your face or refuses to respect your personal space? Nope, nope.
Glorifying the concept of a Hindustani aurat ki “izzat”: We don’t live in an era when the portrayal of pre-marital sex on screen was either associated with shame or a galat kaam. DDLJ romanticised the idea of a guy preserving a drunk girl’s “dignity” by choosing not to sleep with her and this was done to portray him as a desirable man, who had his heart in the right place, despite being a Non-resident Indian. What is that supposed to even mean? That women’s dignity is solely attached to their chastity? That Indian men must not respect women if they are not virgins? Regressive much?
Men in Simran’s lives make all decisions for her: First, there is Bauji, who polices every aspect of his grown-up daughter’s life- from whom she marries and whom she loves, to whether or not she gets to go on a trip with her friends. But is Raj any different though? For him, Simran’s consent to their relationship is not enough, he wants her father’s permission too. Now there are people who feel that what Raj does is a decent thing to do, instead of eloping with his lady love. But from Simran’s perspective, it is as if she has no control over her life. Raj overrides her authority and decides that he won’t elope with her and instead “take” her only after her father’s consent. Is Simran a woman or a lifeless object, that one man is giving away to another?
DDLJ was a pathbreaking film 26 years ago, which gave us many iconic sequences, songs and also presented love as a sort of soft rebellion, where the hero opposes an oppressive patriarch, but in the most parivarik and sanskari way possible. It was refreshing back then, but some aspects of the film haven’t aged well. Now is the time for its director Aditya Chopra to recreate the magic again and rewrite a monumental film, thus taking it to even greater heights.