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DDLJ set for Broadway Debut

By SUBHASH K JHA
October 23, 2021 17:42 IST
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After 26 years, Aditya Chopra is set to direct DDLJ again and it will mark his debut as a director on Broadway.

IMAGE: The Come Fall in Love - The DDLJ Musical poster.
 

'Western musical theatre and Indian films are two long lost lovers separated in time,' says Aditya Chopra, who is set to make his Broadway debut as a director with his record-setting worldwide blockbuster, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge.

Adi has directed and produced some of the biggest blockbusters in the history of Indian cinema.

His debut directorial, the historic romantic film Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, which released in 1995, is still running in theatres.

Popularly called DDLJ, it is one of the highest grossing movies in the history of Indian cinema.

After 26 years, Adi is set to direct DDLJ again and it will mark his debut as a director on Broadway.

He strongly feels Broadway and Indian films are 'two long lost lovers separated in time' because of their intrinsic similarities as both celebrate heart-warming stories and human emotions through music and dance.

Adi has been working on this passion project for the past three years and has roped in a stellar, extremely diverse team, comprising some of the best talents of Broadway and India for the same.

IMAGE: A scene from Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge.

Come Fall in Love - The DDLJ Musical is being produced by Yash Raj Films.

Based on Adi's original story, the musical will feature book and lyrics by Laurence Olivier Award-winner Nell Benjamin (Legally Blonde, Mean Girls). Vishal Dadlani and Shekhar Ravjiani will serve as composers.

Tony and Emmy winner Rob Ashford (Frozen, Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Boys from Syracuse) will choreograph with Associate hCoreographer Shruti Merchant.

The design team will also include set design by Emmy and Tony Award winner Derek McLane (Moulin Rouge!, Hairspray Live!, 33 Variations) and music supervision by Tony, Grammy, and Emmy Award-winning Bill Sherman (In The Heights, Sesame Street, Hamilton).

Adam Zotovich is the executive producer for the project.

Come Fall in Love - The DDLJ Musical is set to be on stage in the Broadway season of 2022-2023, with a world premiere at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego in September 2022.

A global casting search begins shortly headed by Duncan Stewart of Stewart/Whitley casting and Yash Raj Films casting head Shanoo Sharma.

IMAGE: A scene from the super-hit song, Mehendi Laga Ke Rakhna.

"Summer 1985. I was 14 and on a holiday in London. My parents took my brother and me for our first musical theatre experience. The lights dimmed, the curtains lifted and what unfolded in the next 3 hours left me speechless and stunned," Adi recalls.

"Till then, I was a kid who was an avid movie watcher and what I loved the most was big screen Indian blockbusters. But that day what I saw on stage blew my mind. I couldn't believe that this kind of spectacle could be created live on stage," Adi adds.

"But the most significant aspect that resonated with me was how similar musical theatre was to our Indian films," he explains, "It was just not the fact that both use songs to tell the story, it was much more than that, it was the feeling they evoked which was exactly the same.

"The burst of colours, the heightened drama, the passionate singing, the unabashed dancing, a classic story, a happy end. It filled me with the same joy and emotions that a good Indian film does."

"I realised then, that worlds apart, languages apart, Western musical theatre and Indian films are two long lost lovers separated in time."

IMAGE: A scene from DDLJ

Adi says he is looking forward to his Broadway debut.

"What many don't know is that I never intended to make DDLJ in Hindi. As a 23-year-old young man greatly influenced by Hollywood and American pop culture, I thought I would make a couple of Indian films and then I would be off to Hollywood and make DDLJ for a worldwide English speaking audience with Tom Cruise as my leading man," reveals Adi.

"That obviously didn't happen. DDLJ released in 1995 and became the longest running film of Indian cinema. It gave me my identity and kickstarted an amazing journey for which I'll always be grateful," he says

"26 years later I'm going back to my original vision of the story of DDLJ, a love story of an American boy and an Indian girl, a love story of two cultures... two worlds. But this time the medium is not cinema, but theatre."

"26 years later I will be directing DDLJ all over again but this time as an English language Broadway musical for a worldwide audience."

 

Aditya confesses to being terribly nervous and incredibly excited.

"I'm a hardcore cinema guy, I have never done theatre in my life and here I am trying to pull off the craziest ambition of my life," he says.

"What is giving me confidence is the fantastic team that I have. Each one of them are masters of their field and their brilliance and expertise is going to make this a fantastic show," he adds.

"The past 3 years as we have developed this passion project, I have learnt so much from them and discovered the unbelievable talent that the Broadway community has. I feel 23 again, the same age I was when I directed DDLJ."

"I'm once again a student, each one of my team members is more experienced than me in the world of theatre, I'm the rookie and I'm loving every moment of it."

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com

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SUBHASH K JHA