Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995)

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site Pre-Code.com

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Danny LIKEThere are only a few things you really need to have the makings of a good romance; chemistry and obstacles are the main factor, though a few laughs and a few hard won truths don't hurt so much either. And if you can include some singing and dancing, all the better for it.

Diwale Dulhania Le Jayenge may be one of the most popular movies you've never heard of; just marking it's fifteenth anniversary of general release, the film is still playing in first run theaters in Mumbai. It's a pretty impressive feat, but considering the movie, it's well deserved.

The movie begins with Chaudhury Singh, an Indian immigrant to Britain, feeding pigeons in the park on one cloudy dreary morning. As he feeds the birds, his memories of India come flooding back through song, and we cut between the cold streets of London and the vibrantly colored saris of dancing women trying to entice him to come home.

I know I'm still barely setting up the plot, but I adore the way this film begins since Singh, as it turns out, is more or less the villain of the piece. His love and longing for his home and tradition drive his character and the undercurrent of the plot. As he comes to relish the chance to take his daughter home for the arranged marriage he'd set up nearly two decades earlier, his hearts soars. Practically every other film paints the father who acts this way as a mindless villain, but here he's not only given a back story but a motivation.

He works a long day in the convenience store he owns, and if you didn't think he was serious before, he wears a suit there every day. He returns home at night to his two loving but understandably more Western-minded daughters and his doting wife.

The oldest of these two daughters is Simran, a bold and joyous girl who also understandably loves her father deeply. In another impressive musical number, we watch as Simran sings an ode to the man of her dreams in the rain, while her mom laughs at her youthful naivete.

There are flashes to the man of her dreams here, even though she hasn't met him yet. That man is Raj, and we watch as he does a number of impressive of feats like winning at rugby, diving into a pool, riding a motorcycle, getting a strike in bowling... outrunning an airplane? Well, that is kind of badass, I guess, though vaguely unnecessary.

We start to get Raj's story, as he is running late for graduation because he stayed up too late partying. At graduation, the dean announces the one student who failed, and Raj is rather dismayed to learn it is him. Luckily, Raj's father takes the news in stride; Raj's family has been a series of generational educational failures but financial geniuses, and Raj is just the next one in that tradition.

Raj parlays his father's goodwill to let him and some friends take a two month tour of Europe. Simran, meanwhile, has learned that the man she's been promised to nearly twenty years ago is waiting to take her hand back in India. Her father is thrilled; she is not. She gets him to promise her a similar excursion to Europe with some of her friends.

The movie teases us several times at Simran and Raj meeting before we finally get to them both finding themselves locked into a railroad car together shortly after they enter the station. Raj, a ladies man of his own accord, instantly repulses Simran with his flirtatious and brazen ways.

Like most Bollywood movies, Dilwale boasts a lengthy running time, clocking in at close to 200 minutes. However, Dilwale makes good use of it's running time; the interplay between Simran and Raj is allowed to languish and grow over time. It's a love story with some twists and turns that never feels rushed or convenient.

After a few stages of one-up man ship and continually missing the train, both end up making their way across Europe together. It's a very sweet kind of hybrid of the travel problems of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles and the romantic flashbacks in Two for the Road; the duo endure embarrassments and arguments as they slowly mature into their relationship.

With the two months over, they both return home. Raj talks to his father about what's happened, and decides to declare his love in spite of the marriage only to find that Simran's family has already left for India. He vows to find her, and the second half of the movie revolves around his deception to join the wedding party and to convince her father that he's worthy of her love.

That the second half revolves around such a conceit-- that Raj must win the respect of the family of the woman he loves-- seems both old fashioned and completely charming in the West. Raj here becomes even more mischievous in his plans, and he works his way from a goofy failure into a strong honest man.

There's a lot to enjoy this movie; the musical numbers are superb, the romance is both sweet and believable, and all of the characters are well rounded and funny.

It's no wonder the movie has been so popular for so long; as an ode to love Indian style, it's top notch.

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Diwale Dulhania La Jayenge (1995)

(The Big-Hearted Will Win the Bride)

This film (IMDB) is currently available on DVD and on Netflix Instant.

Directed by Aditya Chopra
Starring Shahrukh Khan and Kajol

Posted by Danny

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  1. Now here is a movie I would like to see with you!

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