Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge was ahead of its time but a little problematic too

The iconic Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol starrer, DDLJ turns 25 this year

By Hareem Fatima

KARACHI: If Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge was released in 2020 and did the same business as it did in the year of its release, it would have made a whopping 524 crores at the box office. Trade analyst Taran Adarsh adjusted inflation rates and came up with this figure, just in time as fans celebrate the milestone of 25 years to the film’s release. This makes DDLJ one of the most successful Bollywood films of all time.

Making people hopeful about love 25 years later, DDLJ is worth revisiting for what it said. While there are some major benchmarks it set for Bollywood quite ahead of its time, there are a few that could be problematic if DDLJ was to release today, 25 years later.

Things about DDLJ that would still be appropriate/appreciated 25 years later

1. Raj does not take advantage of a drunk Simran. Instead, he keeps her safe

Although the behavior is obviously bare minimum, it does strengthen the ideology that consent is key to any intimate interaction between a man and a woman, no matter how “provocative” the clothes, the place or the situation may seem.

The whole song “Zara sa jhoom loon mein” portrays their quickly developing chemistry. However, the end goal of the film is still Raj respectfully asking for her hand in marriage and not touching her at any point without her consent before that, even when her drunk self ‘asks’ for it in the song.

2. Raj flies all the way from London to India, in an effort to win over Simran’s father

Raj does not run away and elope with Simran. Instead, he stays and tries to convince her father to agree. The fact that Raj does not wish Simran to become detached from her loving family speaks volumes. Men, take it from SRK and make an effort for your girl!

3. Raj changes his ways for Simran

Perhaps, DDLJ is the first film to introduce the idea that marriages are not rehabilitation centers for poorly raised men. You have to get serious in life and get your sh*t together before you decide to enter it. Party boy Raj decides there are more serious things in life to fight for than casually flirt around. While Kuljeet is expected to be the alpha-male types throughout the film with his hunting and ideas of deserting Simran after getting his citizenship to England, the behavior is hailed as problematic and offensive, and Raj gets more inclined to help Simran.

4. The film promotes consent in marriage

Throughout the film, Simran is uncomfortable about marrying someone she has never met. This might seem cheesy at first, but soon it is established that the idea of a forced arranged marriage, only decided between the parents and not the bride and groom can make lives miserable. The excitement from the festivities of a wedding often clouds the far-sightedness of how the marriage will turn out.

5. Raj fasts on Karva Chauth for Simran

Why should women be the only ones to stay hungry for their men to pray for their long-life? Do women not deserve one too? Raj breaks this stereotype by fasting for Simran and only breaking it once Simran has had her food.

6. Baldev lets Simran go with Raj after realizing where her heart is

Baldev, played by Amrish Puri, says his iconic dialogue, “Ja Simran ja. Jee lay apni zindagi“. The dialogue not only became an instant hit from DDLJ, but it also signified how a parent cannot live their child’s life for them. You’ve got to live your own life and make your own mistakes.

Things about DDLJ that would NOT be appropriate/appreciated 25 years later

1. Raj does not seem to understand personal space and isn’t sorry for it

Raj’s whole attitude to not recognizing Simran’s personal space is illustrated through the train scene where he just won’t let Simran read a book in peace. His behavior often gets too invasive. That’s not all. The whole “Ruk Ja O Dil Deewaney” is a song that elaborately depicts Raj’s completely uninvited flirting too.

The next morning, Raj is not even sorry for it and continues to be his self-absorbed self.

However, the idea cannot be completely discarded that this is perhaps a part of his character arc, as he comes to respect Simran more than anyone else. But only respecting women you’re attracted to is again not okay Raj! Had Raj from DDLJ been here today, 25 years later, he might have been called out for such tendencies.

Read: Young Love: To all the desi boys we made the mistake of loving before

2. Raj sort of leads Kuljeet’s sister on

Raj is aware of Preeti, Kuljeet’s sister’s infatuation towards him, yet he continues to not say anything to clarify things. Although this seems like an honest mistake on his part, because he is too occupied with other things, he could have still told Preeti to be with someone who really loves her. However, Raj’s silence leads to his father confusing Preeti as the girl he wants to marry, and talking to Preeti’s parents for her hand. This could have possibly furthered the plot, but boys, do not allow this to be the reason why you lead women on! Let’s be mindful of people’s feelings.

Although flawed in some areas, much like any good love story, DDLJ is still a good watch. Watching the film repeatedly throughout these 25 years has never  once felt difficult and time seems to pass quickly.

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