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'DDLJ story goes to the roots of Indian culture'
Transcripts of the interviews
What makes DDLJ so successful?
It's the story. It goes to the very roots of Indian culture. It highlights most importantly that we respect our elders. You just do not run away or elope with the person you fall in love; instead you take the parents consent and their blessings… its like I'll marry you only if your father gives your hand to me. This plus the wonderful music and the whole treatment. It was so new and so down to earth! That's what made DDLJ a cult film. It became more so overseas because the characters in the film were ones based overseas who come to India to find their roots.
Nobody plans a movie to be the greatest. It becomes great. Even today audiences like it. We don't know how long it will run. I think the main reason was the story and the fact that it helped people find their roots in our culture.
Since it was Adi's first film did it surprise you?
I remembered the day I heard the subject, a year before he started the film. I was sure that is was going to be a very big hit. The artistes, music directors, Anand Bakshi, everybody who working him thought that the way Adi was involved in it, the way he narrated the film with every frame in his mind, that the film was going to be a very big hit.
What do you see as Adi's future?
It is fantastic and wonderful. He knows the job. He is very commited, very dedicated, very disciplined and well organised.
How different is he from you?
He writes his own subjects which I don't do. He does his own scripts. He does the whole film on his own. That's the great thing. Also he has a great sense of humor.
What did you like about the film as a viewer but not as a producer?
Oh, it was a very emotional film. I felt very proud of it. I feel very, very happy that such a great film carries a Yash Raj banner.
Why do you think the film has become so special?
The film has become special for its, for its own credit, for its own quality. The film is so appealing, its storyline is so very natural. There is not much of fantasy. It's the reality that has caught on. People abroad loved the manner in which our culture has been given importance in the film - how a doting father shifts his family from London to India just to see that the children are taken care of. This, along with the good direction, good story and all the actors and music has made a rare combination. Like a crossword puzzle everything just fell into place, just like in Sholay.
How was it to be directed by a young boy?
It was really wonderful! Right from the beginning when the story of the film I was narrated, I was very much impressed. He just stuck to whatever he narrated to me, not changing the story or script halfway. I was amazed about the knowledge of Indian culture that this young boy had. He had a perfect understanding of the emotions behind the script, otherwise it would not have been possible to direct it.
How much did you enjoy your character?
Very much!. I enjoyed working. It was so such a natural thing for me to play. I understood the role very nicely and there was no difficulty in getting into it. It was very comfortable I must say. There were also surprising moments during the filming. For instance, we had been to London for the location shooting. The indoor shoot was all done in Bombay, which people can never make out! I remember the scene in which I take a letter from the postman outside. We did that scene in a lane in London where the house wasn't even open. It was a locked house! And then wearing the same costume, in Bombay, I walked in through the door! The exterior scenes were shot in London, the interiors in Bombay. But the change over was so subtle that nobody could make out. That is good filmmaking.
Adi edited it himself didn't he?
Most of it, yes. The editor was there but the first cut and all that is always given by the director himself as he imagines it the way he has shot. Actually the whole film was edited in his mind.
Any special memories?
We shot the opening scene at Trafalgar Square, London, where I'm feeding the pigeons. We had started from our hotel at 4 o'clock in the morning with make-up so that we dont come across people at Trafalgar Square and we could capture the early morning atmosphere. Then it began raining and we thought we it wouldn't work out. But then we continued shooting -- I used the same umbrella to shield myself as the one I used in the film. Almost half the scene was done in the drizzle and you can't make it out. But the problem was that there were no pigeons because of the rain! We had spread out some grains and were waiting for them. Fortunately they appeared in the end and we quickly shot the scene.
What was it that made DDLJ such a big hit?
I think there were two major factors. The first was the novelty in the story and the presentation of the film, that is, the direction of Aditya Chopra. Secondly, I think the music has played a very big part in making the film touch a chord in people's heart.
I keep reading that many people are seeing the film again and yet again. I think any film that has the potential of pulling back the audience repeatedly is a long runner. But in a way Dilwale Dulhaniya is a much more bigger film because it was screened in of the most difficult times in the film industry - at that time, films were not running more than three to four weeks. During the time of the time of Sholay, many films ran for long periods, I remember Pratigya had a silver jubilee. In comparision, check the year 2000, you hardly have four or five hits out of a 100-odd releases.
DDLJ had been released when the industry has changed so much - there is so much influx of DVDs and the television channels. Yet it went on to become the longest Indian film to be screened, it outran Sholay. I think it's a miracle. I don't think it will happen again.
What was the brief given to you when you were doing the music?
Sabse pehle to jab Aditya ne story sunayi thi iski to eyse laga wah ye bahut acchi film banne waali hai aur… this was our big chance to make it big. Because until Dilwale Dulhaniya even though we had given a lot of musical hits - Khiladi, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman, Kabhi Haan Khabhi Naa, ye sab to aa gayi thi magar we were still not recognised as one of the finest composers. We were never in the big league until then. So we thought that DDLJ was to be our big chance.
Also the subject had much scope of giving good music. Somehow ek instinct ban jaati hai na picture dekh ke, sun ke, ki is mein ye bahut accha ho ga. And then Aditya also said, " You know, Lalit, music is very important in my film. It's my first film. It's got to have your best effort. And he was new at that time so ek politeness aur ek jo baat karne ka andazaa tha, you know, ek dil jeetne waali baat ho gayi thi! We really thought that we should do our best and you know it's probably a good launching pad of newcomers altogether like it happened in Awara when Raj Kapoor, Shankar Jaikishan and Hazrat Jaipuri all came together.So we thought probably this is one way of talent coming up all together. I remember the feeling we had that I should do the very best in this film.
What do you remember when you got Aditya to hear the first song or the second one?
Ha, isme ek khaas baat ye hai ke isme jo music karne ka jo tarika humara hua tha woh different ho gaya tha (One unique thing was that we used a different approach to compose music for this film). Aditya ke saath baiht ke gaane jab hum log banaate the aur especially the first song Mere khwabo me aaye, he used to say chalo, us gaane ko garam karna hai, pakate hai, aiysa bolta tha (When we used to sit with him especially for the first song, Mere khwabo me aye, he used to say let's start heating the music up, le'ts start cooking!) Woh jo saath mein beth kar jo jo atmosphere banata tha music room mein, that happens very rarely, you know. Ek yahan se idea aa raaha hai, and he used to throw some idea for writing the songs.
Who used to write the songs?
Adi used to write the dummy words in the sitting. Isko tune bani to chalo, ab mil ke likhte hai. Jatin also writes very well you know. So they both used to put some words and I used to feel really good. Ek really happening feeling aati hai na and the most wonderful moment was when he said, Lataji was going to sing all the songs. Matlab ek dil ki khwaish hoti hai na composer ki ke mera gaana ye gaaye, woh gaaye, to ek woh bahut khushi mil gayi ki Lataji gaane waali hai (Every composer has a dream that we like our song to be song by so and so, and we were delighted that Lataji was going to sing all our songs!)
But before that she had not sung for you?
She had sung one song only in Dev Saab's film but not a full album for us.
And did you win an award for this?
Well, we won a small award but we missed all the big ones. We just got Channel V and some chhota-mota awards.
Who wrote the songs?
Well, (Anand) Bakshisaab wrote it finally.
Any special memories that happened during the making of the film?
Once, we had gone to see the shooting of Mehndi lagaa ke rakhna and I remember Saroj Khan doing a scene with Sharukh Khan. It was wonderful to her doing the movements which Shahrukh later did. In one of the lines, you know, "ud ud ke teri zulfe, karti hai kya ishaare dil thamke khade hai aashiq sabhi kawaare", itna ek line unhone Shahrukh ko karke bataya tha aur woh itna khubsoorat kiya tha ki mujhe bahut hi accha lagaa tha. Finally Shahrukh did it but slightly differently. But it was not as good as what she had done . I remember how creative Saroj was. She just loved the songs in the film.
The first time when the song Mere khwabo mein aaye was approved, we were all at Yashji's house and Yashji called Lataji and said that I have taken these new boys, Jatin-Lalit, as music directors and Adi's first film is going on set, aur inka first gaana ready ho gayaa hai aur aapko gaana hai. So she said can I hear the song? She was on the phone. Yashji turned to me and said she wants to hear the song. Do you want to sing it over the phone, I said yes definitely. I sang the song Mere khwabo mein aaye over the phone. I was very worried ki inka kya reaction hoga ke, whether she will like the song or not. It matters a lot at that stage.
Lataji didn't say anything to me. She just said "Yashji se baat karaaiye." Then she said to Yashji, "Jatin-Lalit ko bolna ke bahut accha gaana banaaya hai." I just can't just forget that moment. I felt more confident that she has liked the song and we were on!
Was there anything you wanted to do but had to drop the idea for the film?
There was this obstacle to the title song. Le jayenge le jayenge dilwaale dulhania le jayenge is an existing old hit number. We were all in the beginning worried whether we should have a title song. Adi was also worried so. We finally attempted a song in which Dilwale dulhaniya came very well but Adi was still worried. He said that we might be putting our foot into the wrong shoe, so we better not attempt it. That was one thing which we wanted to do but we didn't do. So there was no title song in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge.
DDLJ music sold very well didn't it?
Oh my God, it's a historic sale. It's one of the highest music sold ever.
What do you think contributed to DDLJ's success?
The first time I heard the story from Adi Chopra I was so impressed I told him that it was after a long time that I have heard a complete story, a good story. I said if you make whatever you have narrated to me, it will for a minimum of 50 weeks!
How clear was he about the songs what did he want?
He was always very certain. He definitely knew what he wanted and what we should give him. Also, I had very good situations for the songs to be picturised. The songs became very popular. Everybody did his job very nicely. As a director, Adi was 100 per cent complete.
Do you recall any interesting moment when you were writing the lyrics?
Well, they wanted to add to Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge one more song. I told them this song has already come in one of the pictures and that was very popular. If we put this song in the picture, people would say that we've copied somebody. And in such a beautiful, new type of movie, it would look old. So there was no title song.
How was the experience of working in DDLJ?
It was a special one, like the first baby you have. It was my first film obviously and it was also Adi's first film. I had really fought for this role. I had gone to great lengths to convince Adi that I was the right guy to do this role.
Did you do an audition for it?
Yes, I auditioned for it. I told him give me a screen test. He had already signed someone else. I made him change his mind and gave him a screen test and that's how it happened. Since I fought for it and then I got and it has become the biggest hit of all times, it is very special to me.
What made you want to do it so much initially?
When I came to know about the character through somebody, I knew it was something that I could do very well. It was the typical Punjabi male chauvinist kind of person. I've seen and met a lot of them. And being a Punjabi, I'm obviously very close to the culture.
But it wasn't a very easy character to play. I hadn't done anything wrong in the movie but I still had to look like a villian. So it was something which had to be done in a very smart way. That was a challenge. You've not taken somebody's else's girl but somebody is taking your girl away - and you still got to look like the villian! All this made the role very special. This apart the fact that it was Adi's his first film and the fun we had shooting it in Delhi and Bombay. It was lots of fun.
Any interesting moments? Was there anything that was shot well and then deleted?
Well, there was a. sequence with me and Shahrukh in which I wanted to impress the girl (Kajol) in a mela. I had to impress her because I was getting married to her. I tell Shahrukh 'Mele mein jaate hai wahaa par puri fight white hoti hai and I say "Ok Shahrukh, you have to lose and make me look good." And Kajol starts crying after she sees Shahrukh. Me and Shahrukh can't bear the tears in her eyes and he starts hitting me back…. that was a very interesting part of the film. Unfortunately that was not kept in the final version although we shot a fabulous portion for it. That was something which yet I felt bad about it. But obviously you can't make the film four-hour long!
Any other interesting experience?
Well, there was this first shot of mine where I was to ride a horse. It was in Gurgaon, in the fields. I had to fly from Bombay, the early morning 6 o'clock flight. I landed there at 8 o'clock and I thought, okay, the shot would probably be taken around 2 or 3 pm so I could go and catch up with some sleep and get ready for it. But the moment I landed from the airport, Adi said just go to your room and change your clothes, we're waiting for the shot.
I said "Hey, hang on this is the first time I'm doing a film, my first shot and you want to do it right now? You won't even give me a five-minute break?" Adi said no, no we're all waiting and everything is ready. I said come on yaar, but Adi said no, you have to.
So I was immediately taken to the field. There was this junglee horse. I didn't know that! Adi asked me to sit on it, and asked you know horse riding, don't you? I said yes, but I'm not an expert.
Shahrukh added that it looked like a feisty kind of a horse so just be careful. I said I will do my best and I'm sure it'll be okay.
The horse didn't even have a proper saddle. It just had a gadda on top of it. I thought ek hi shot lena hai, just yahaa se wahaa bhagna hai. So I sat on the horse, ready for the shot. And that horse went from one field to another, throughout Gurgaon! It just didn't stop! It was such an experience. I was so scared. When I came back after almost a three kilometre detour, I was actually hanging from its neck.
That was the first shot I gave to Adi.
Did you think at that time that the film would be such a big hit?
No, not in my dreams did I think its going to be such a big hit. I didnt even know it was going to be a hit in the first place.
Because I was so scared. I just said yeah, its a nice movie, it will do well…. you know that-kind-of-thing. But I didn't know it will be a super-duper hit kind of a thing. I couldnt even imagine it. Even when I watched it I thought ki ha accha kiya hai, thik hai. Everything is nice, everything is balanced. But that's exactly what the public was looking for. A complete film!
Any highlights that you remember with Kajol, Shahrukh or anybody?
It was a very nice experience. For the climax of the movie we were all put up in a hotel at Panvel. We would meet in the banquet hall of the hotel every night for dinner and after dinner we'd play this game called Articulate. The whole unit, the entire cast and crew - Uday Chopra, Aditya Chopra, Parmeet Sethi, Archana Puran Singh, Kajol, Shahrukh and myself - all of us would play this really interesting word game, similar to pictionary. I really have fond memories of those evenings.
How do you feel now that the film has done so well?
Oh, I'm really proud to be part of a project that made Indian cinema history - both in terms of the money it has collected at the box office and in term of the amount of time it has run in a cinema. You realise how much people have loved this film. Sholay was like an all-time great hit. It is incomparable. But now it's DDLJ. I know people who bought the cassette and watched it over and over and over again.
It nice when people still see it and tell me they liked it. I never even expected anybody appreciate these minute details. It's nice to know that its made history. I'll always be a part of it no matter where I am in life or what I do in the future. This will never change.
Produced by SoundPicture Communications