It was success of this feel good romance that suddenly woke up the Indian spinners of mush and schmaltz to target the non-resident Indian audience, which was deemed as a quite lucrative option besides the home-crowds. It was also written and directed by Aditya Chopra and produced by his father Yash Chopra. The plot revolves around two young non-resident Indians, who fall in love during a vacation and meander through Europe with their friends. The film was shot on various locations in India, London and Switzerland, beginning from September 1994 to August 1995.
Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge released on 20 October 1995, became the highest grossing Bollywood film of the year earning ?1.06 billion in India and ?160 million overseas. It won 10 Filmfare Awards, the most for a single film at that time, and won the National Film Award for Best Popular Film Its soundtrack album was one of the highest selling albums of the 1990s and its ditties still blare on the radio nearly quarter of a decade later!
The film was praised for promoting strong family values and listening to one’s own heart and British Film Institute listed twelfth best on its list of top Indian films of all time. It went on to be the longest-running film in the history of Indian cinema. As of 2015, almost 20 years after its first release, it was shown last time on February 19, 1009 weeks – 19 years and 21 weeks – after it began playing on October 19, 1995.
Aditya Chopra cut his teeth by being involved with his father in Bollywood’s grist during the making of Chandni(1989), Lamhe (1991) and Darr (1993) and then wrote Mohabbatein (2000). For three years, he worked on the story that would become Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge after his mother, the playback singer, screenwriter and producer Pamela Chopra, found that the idea was sound, he decided to make this his directorial debut.
In May 1994, Aditya’s reading of the first draft of the script to several members of the Yash Raj Films production team who were assigned to work with him were not impressed to say the least he had total editorial control and mandate to make the film according to his own tastes and sensibilities. Aditya struggled with both the dialogue writer Javed Siddiqui and the song lyricist Anand Bakshi to develop words that were “young-sounding”. DDLJ ’s dialogue writer, Javed Siddiqui, also parted ways with the Chopras. Aditya, who says he rewrote much of the film’s dialogue, took the credit of ‘additional dialogue’. Siddiqui insists that his writing was hardly changed – Aditya only wrote some lines, which were added while shooting in Switzerland and that the joint credit was ‘an injustice’.
The veteran screenwriter Honey Irani and Pamela Chopra’s best friend believed that it was proper she was given a writing credit Honey Irani and Pamela had been friends for twenty-two years. Her first script was Lamhe followed by Aaina and Darr and had had meetings with Aditya during which they had worked on the DDLJ screenplay. But Honey’s name does not appear on the DDLJ credits. Aditya maintains he only had four sessions with her, and then wrote the film on his own. Honey disagrees and says thatthey had several 7 a.m. meetings on DDLJ and she even accompanied the unit for the Switzerland schedule. After Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, neither of them ever collaborated with Yash Raj Films again..
All the senior actors had been doubtful of Adi’s ‘newbie’ directorial skills initially. Amrish Puri used to quiz him with questions like ‘What time is it in London right now’ to check how well he knows his story and his characters.
Aditya Chopra had originally wanted Tom Cruise for the male lead falling in love with an Indian belle but was dissuaded by Yash, who did not want to use a foreign star. Saif Ali Khan was interested to play the lead but declined for unknown reasons later. It was Shah Rukh Khan who was approached, who was initially not interested in a soft romantic role in lieu of his dark roles in Baazigar and Darr (1993) that had made him such a hot property.
It was Salman Khan who pumped Shah Rukh to take the role that he had dismissed as the typical lover boy and “girlish” kind of role. Not only Salman but Aditya Chopra persuaded Shah Rukh by telling words that he was refusing a role that will make him “every woman’s dream man, and every mother’s dream son!” The poster of this film signed by Shah rukh Khan in Aditya Chopra’s office is an acknowledgement of gratitude- ‘Thank you for making me the star that I am today’
Kajol a good friend of Aditya Chopra was the first choice to play Simran, to which she quickly agreed. Yash Chopra wanted Milind Gunaji to play Kuljeet. But the actor refused to shave off his beard for the part. Armaan Kohli was the second choice, but he wanted to play the lead and not the villain. So they finally signed Parmeet Sethi. Mala Sinha’s daughter Pratibha was the first choice for Preeti’s character, which was finally played by Mandira Bedi.The brat pack came to full circle with Uday Chopra and his friend Karan Johar playing cameos in the film as Raj’s friend. Sharmishta Roy was the film’s art director and Manish Malhotra was its costume designer.
Kajol admits that Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge was the corniest title she had ever heard. She had cracked up the first time she heard it. And while Chopra loved working with Kajol, he realised that her spontaneity fizzled out like soda pop after the first two takes, therefore he took to getting the shot from her before her third try. Kajol’s all green mehndi attire became a huge hit so much so that even at her own wedding Kajol wore a green Maharashtrian sari. It was Manish Malhotra’s idea to dress Kajol in a green outfit for the song Mehndi Laga Ke Rakhna much against the wishes of the director since north Indian brides traditionally wear red, maroon or pink, considering them auspicious colours.
Dilwale Dulhania was first Indian movie with a Dolby sound mix and was the first film in the history of Bollywood with a credit of ‘title suggested by’ Anupam Kher’s wife, actress Kirron Kher taking inspiration from the Le Jayenge number from Chor Machaye Shor (1974).. The first sequence filmed was for the song Ho Gaya Hai Tujhko in Switzerland. The European portion mainly filmed in Saanen, Montbovon and Gstaad, Switzerland, in England, atTrafalgar Square, King’s Cross railway station and Angel tube station. But if you think India did not figure in the film then you’re wrong, three weeks before his January schedule, cinematographer Manmohan Singh, a regular collaborator with Chopra and Aditya were scouting for sarson. Yash, Manmohan and Aditya travelled through Punjab, but sarson proved elusive. There were occasional blotches of flowers and not a sea of yellow! It was finally neighbouring Gurgaon where the idyllic carpets of yellow flowers with a train track going through it were found!
Saroj Khan remained the choreographer for most of the production despite several disputes between them, she was however replaced by Farah Khan near the end of the shoot recommended SRK. Farah choreographed the song Ruk Ja O Dil Deewane. Saroj Khan apologised to Aditya Chopra after the film became a huge success for having doubted his talent.
Shah Rukh was in a crossfire between this film and Trimurti(1995), spending half of his day on each film. SRK’s full name in the movie was Rajnath fashioned after Rishi Kapoor’s name in Bobby. In the scene whereAnupam Kher tells SRK about the drudgry of his forefathers in academics he recited names of his real uncles who were academic duds! Amrish Puri based some of his character’s nuances on his own highly disciplined father and K L Saigal was in reality Amrish Puri’s favourite singer!
Jatin and Lalit Pandit were given only 10 days to compose the complete background score, and the first copies were printed on 30 September. Aditya Chopra not happy with Jatin-Lalit’s first para (mukhda) for Tujhe Dekha Toh Yeh Jana Sanam composed Ho Gaya Hai Tujh Ko Toh Pyaar Sajna all by himself! Mere Khwabon Mein Jo Aaye was the first song of the film to be recorded and Aditya Chopra had rejected 24 verses written by Anand Bakshi before giving the go ahead to the final one. The film made in the 25th year of Yash Raj Films premiered at Mumbai’s New Excelsior theatre on October 20, the debutant director joined his music directors, Jatin and Lalit Pandit after interval, in the foyer. The standing ovation at the end of the film went on for five minutes!
After filming was complete, Aditya decided to make a Hollywood-style documentary of the film-making process, never been attempted ever before in India. On 18 October, two days before the film’s release, DDLJ was the first film to have a 30-minute television show on its making telecast on Doordarshan.
In 2009, the then Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit confessed that she had viewed the super-hit Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge 15 times in presence of Yash Chopra present at the event.