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The Other: A User's Guide to Indian Cinema, Week 7

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Tuesday, Sep 12, 2006

From the User’s Guide to Indian Films Intro


The movies described in the User’s Guide are the hit list of Indian cinema. They’re not only the best films of all time, but they give you the best glimpse of what Indians enjoy, their sense of tragedy and comedy, their aspirations, their regrets. In short, it’s a visual chronicle of Indian society in the last 50 years. Enjoy.



Week 7: Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (“He Who is Brave of Heart Takes the Bride”)
1995, Color, Hindi.
Dir: Aditya Chopra
DDLJ, as it’s often abbreviated, is the masterwork of a young second-generation filmmaker, Aditya Chopra, whose father Yash is a famous director and media mogul.  The movie was a phenomenal success, running in theatres for a record time of five years. DDLJ hit a nerve amongst many Indians because of its increasingly relevant subject matter: the struggle of a NRI (Non-Resident Indian) family to make a living abroad in the West, yet still uphold the religious and cultural traditions of their ancestral homeland. The film signaled a return to ritual and relations, values that gradually eroded during the sexual revolution of the ‘60s and ‘70s. By the ‘90s, the overcrowding and lack of jobs in India forced more and more people to relocate to other countries. Nearly everyone who saw DDLJ  was an NRI, or had a NRI relative and could completely identify with the characters. The story revolves around two spirited teenagers, the lovely, Simran (Kajol), the middle-class daughter of a stern, hardworking Punjabi gas-station owner in London, and Raj (Shahrukh Khan), the fast-talking, self-indulgent son of an Anglo-Indian millionaire. The two meet while traveling through Europe with their friends, discover they have nothing in common, hate each other, keep getting left behind by the others, bond, discover they have more in common than they thought, and grow to love each other. The romantic-comedy plot is painfully clichéd, but what makes DDLJ  so enduring are the earnest, doe-eyed performances from Shahrukh Khan and Kajol, who quickly became the Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan of Indian cinema.

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