20th October 1995 was the first time DDLJ released in cinemas. I was 7 when I first watched the film at G7 Cinemas, Bandra with my parents. Little did I know that I would end up getting lost in the magical world that I was experiencing on screen. Tears rolled down my cheeks when I saw Amrish Puri slap SRK right before the climax sequence and I held my mother’s arms as each slap echoed in the pin drop silence inside the cinema packed with thousand people. I felt ecstatic when Kajol ran towards the stretched arm of SRK extending from the door of a running train in the end. I was mesmerized by the story that I narrated the entire film to my friends in school. When the songs came on the television, I would stop everything and listen attentively. Couple of months later, we revisited the theatre to watch DDLJ again. It was the same scenario as the first – a packed house with the same emotions. As a kid, I knew this film would stay with me forever.
Cut to 20th October 2005, location Maratha Mandir. I was in Junior College and in my teens. The film completed 10 years and I had to be a part of the milestone. Along with a bunch of my college friends, we watched DDLJ on the big screen. A few college friends who came to Mumbai for further studies and had never seen DDLJ in a cinema hall were excited; and as usual there was a grand celebration. We purchased tickets in black and experienced the magic of film again – as the tagline says “Come… Fall in Love” 10 years later, I experienced similar emotions as the 7-year-old me. I ywas a teenager now, and believed love to be all rosy-cosy without having a clue about reality. DDLJ made me believe in love. My Junior College friends equally enjoyed the experience because they had never witnessed something of this scale before. Be it the movie or the grand celebration. Since the college trip, I’ve visited Maratha Mandir multiple times with different set of people – cousins, friends etc. I’ve also visited nearby theatres whenever DDLJ was screened, especially on Valentine’s Day or some other occasion. While touring Mumbai, you can’t miss out on the iconic Maratha Mandir. I have also been a part of a SRK fan club special screening where we all celebrated the film & SRK’s stardom.
Three decades later, after my birthday last year, I re-visited Maratha Mandir to watch DDLJ with my then girlfriend as she had never experienced something of that frenzy before. We had a minor argument before reaching as we were running late. And the rest of the journey was filled with awkward silence. We reached while “Ruk Ja O Dil Deewane” was playing and 10minutes later, both of us were mouthing dialogues together, cheering & clapping at every key moment of the film. The awkwardness between us disappeared and both of us had so much fun. That was the last time I watched DDLJ and it was also my last film with my ex-girlfriend. The memory is a special and happy one.
There are a lot of people like me who love this film unconditionally and were eagerly looking forward to celebrating the film’s 25th year at Maratha Mandir, but we shall try and do it digitally by paying homage to a film that’s close to me and hopefully will be my forever favourite film.
Thank you Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge for existing even after 25 years. It’s a film that has cut across generations with its love & sincerity that stays with me till date. Now, let’s continue the trend of watching the film in my 4th Decade… Falling in Love all over again