Sure, it’s fun to catch the latest flick at the multiplex, or grab the newest release at a video store, but sometimes you just gotta say, “Out with the new, and in with the unknown.” There are plenty of older flicks out there that are worth a rental, but never registered on your radar. In Don’t You Forget About, we remember the long-gone gems, so you don’t have to.
Before Shahrukh Khan and Kajol fell in love in Kabhi Kushi Kabhie Gham, before they fell in love in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, they fell in love in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. They also fell in love in a dozen other movies and this wasn’t the first but this was the first time it wasn’t Shahrukh Khan’s character in disguise or as a reincarnation! And for that reason and a whole lot more, it’s one of the realest, revered and memorable of Hindi films.
Simran Singh (Kajol) is a teenage girl. She’s a hopeless romantic who writes poetry in her diary and she’s in love, except she hasn’t met him yet. She’s seen him in her dreams and she knows she loves him. She doesn’t know what he looks like or where he is, but he’s out there. The day after she confesses to her mother about her far-off, mysterious lover, her father gets a letter in the mail. The boy she was promised to as a child was now of age and ready to get married. It’s okay to dream, her mother tells her that night, but not to expect any dreams to come true. Simran, wanting to make her father happy, agrees to the marriage on the condition that she’s allowed one month to freely live her life on a trip to Europe. He allows her. Meanwhile, rich kid Raj Malholtra (Khan) has just failed college and plans a trip to Europe just for kicks. You know what happens next.
Many Hindi films have a similar theme: love succeeds. That’s not to say that DDLJ strays far from that but what makes this film different is it’s all about questioning the idea of love succeeding. Is there anything more important than love? More important than your happiness? More important than being with the one you’ve dreamed of? One of the clear challenges this film tackles is the tradition of arranged marriages, and where family wishes and culture fit into following your heart. It’s about making choices, weighing what’s logically right and what just feels right. In this, the film also questions how much you should rely on fate, and whether you the viewer should trust Hindi film formulas. They’re supposed to be together; they’re in love. In Hindi films, love is supposed to trump all, but what if that doesn’t happen?
What’s also great about this film is the soundtrack and the musical scenes. In contrast to many Bollywood musical numbers, they’re really subdued and emotional, beautifully illustrating what’s going on in the film at that point. It’s not about showing off choreography abruptly mid-scene, but rather about moving the narrative along through music.
We also see in a couple of the musical numbers bright saris scattered, spinning, dancing through a field. DDLJ makes stunning use of fields, which is clear even on the film’s poster. Cinematography in this film is gorgeous as a whole. Whether it’s Kajol running through a spanning field from the top of the screen into Shahrukh Khan’s arms or a quick close-up on her hazel eyes, it’s brilliant. Being set in the European countryside, of course, helps.
If you’re new to Hindi films, DDLJ is possibly the perfect film to start with. It’s heartfelt, beautiful and you’ll wish you spoke Hindi to sing along with the songs, not to mention, it’s Bollywood mega-stars Shahrukh Khan and Kajol in one of their best.