MUMBAI, India — Little by little, the crowds keep coming. Some pay at the box office with a couple of taps on their phone; others deposit handfuls of coins. There are students, office workers, prostitutes, day laborers and the homeless.
India’s film industry projects some 1,500 stories on the screen each year. Yet the crowd lining up to enter the Maratha Mandir cinema in Mumbai is there to see a film that was released 27 years ago — and has resonated so loudly that this once sumptuous 1,100-seat theater has shown it daily ever since. , except for a recess during the pandemic.
The film, “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge”—which translates as “The Brave at Heart Will Take the Bride” and is known as “DDLJ”—tells the story of a boy who meets a girl during a time of enormous change. in India as a backdrop. The economy has just opened up, creating new possibilities. But it has also brought new tensions, as the choices offered by economic opportunity clash with the protective traditions of yesteryear.
In many ways, today’s India looks like the one in the movie. The economy is still on the rise, some 10 times bigger than it was in the mid-1990s. The forces of modernity and conservatism remain in tension. However, the sense of possibility has faded. For those left behind, the world of “DDLJ” is an escape. For those who continue to fight, he is an inspiration. And for those who have succeeded, it is a time capsule.
“It grew and grew to, you know, become a relic,” said actress Kajol, 48, who played the film’s lead Simran.
When the pandemic shut down theaters for a year, many speculated that “DDLJ”’s run on theaters would come to an end. But he’s back for his 11:30 a.m. performance at the Maratha Mandir, often drawing larger crowds than evening screenings of first-run tapes.
Some of the attendees have seen it so many times that they have lost count. Madhu Sudan Varma, a 68-year-old homeless man who works part-time feeding the neighborhood cats, comes about 20 times a month.
The woman with her head wrapped in a plastic bag? She comes daily. Everybody calls it Simran. At night, in a room she has in Kamathipura, Mumbai’s red light district, she sometimes dreams of the tape, she said. In the morning, she makes sure not to miss her performance—not even this day, when the henna she used to dye her hair hadn’t dried yet.
“DDLJ” is a love story, but it is also about giving in. Kajol’s character, Simran Singh, is raised in London following Indian traditions. On a trip through Europe, Simran meets Raj Malhotra, played by Shah Rukh Khan, a wealthy young man raised by a single father. The rest of the film deals with the couple’s efforts to persuade Simran’s conservative father to forget about the arranged marriage he had planned for her.
“Go, Simran,” his father tells him at the end, after the tape weaves through tears, fights and songs. “Live your life”.
The logic of keeping a movie in theaters for nearly three decades is simple: New features may hit or flop, but the audience for “DDLJ” is constant.
By: MUJIB MASHAL and SUHASINI RAJ
BBC-NEWS-SRC: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/19/world/asia/bollywood-ddlj-maratha-mandir.html, IMPORTING DATE: 2023-01-27 16:40:06
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