By Kanika Katyal:
I belong to the generation of girls who worshipped Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayengey as their Geeta (not the Bible, mind you). I call it “epic melodrama” (not because it exhibited melodrama in epic proportions) because it brought about a reinscription of traditions in modernity. Apart from the Absolute Gyaan on love, passion, liaisons, friendship, fidelity, idolatry, devotion and piety which I attained from this scripture, which needless to say is totally relevant even in the contemporary scenario and which as divinely ordained, I will ensure to insure in my will so that my grandchildren are bang-on, on their life lessons from the start, this is not just any moral code that we’re talking here. It is the moral code of a perfect Hindustani. The kind of code that Alok Nath himself, despite not being present in form in the movie, consecrated in spirit.
We are all governed by the higher goal to become a true Hindustani. But naïve and credulous souls that we are, we begin to look for answers in a Swades or a Purab aur Paschim. DDLJ is the answer to your prayers. This movie will show you how the bourgeois family orientation serves as charged microcosm to the larger context of nation building, especially in the melodramatic mode. I propose that this treasured doctrine of a movie be declared our National Movie, and there be a marked day to celebrate it each year. Let not the faithless call it regressive. Here are 7 reasons why DDLJ should be our National Film.
1. The London Bridge is clearly going down. Look at how the scenic spaces of London and the Big Ben dissolve into the mustard fields and form forms of his native Punjab.
So even if you inhabit Pardes out of a financial need (because your own country could not provide you with the opportunities, resources, basic facilities or the standard of life that you wished for yourself), there is the nationalist sentiment within you constantly urging you to return to apni mitti to feed apne pigeons. Let’s face it, what use are pigeons if they can’t deliver letters, which the language barrier forbade.
2. One is never to discredit the power of the Hindu Goddesses. “Cuz I knew you were trouble when you walked in”, sings Baldev as Raj breaks the Laxmi idol in his “angrezipana” for a beer, committing blasphemy which brought upon him the wrath of the Gods. It’s not a love story, it’s an epic saga.
3. Hindustanis are big sniffers. Baldev Singh goes frantic and the first thing he does is smell the letter for “Punjab di khushboo”. Hindustanis are also repressed individuals. The only real way to reaffiliate to the motherland is by acting upon the marital pledges forged by ties of friendship. The letter tells you that in patriarchy, women are no more than the goods of exchange between men, also that we now have a real excuse to visit Hindustan.
4. You could be a winner in the game of life, if you just manage to keep Hindustan alive from the impediments of Western Culture, a major concern of which is giving your daughter the agency to choose her husband. But child marriage is our culture. So hey, one small sacrifice is all that it is! Also, it’s not a NO, she’s just acting coy!
Because ideal Hindustani girls do not drink, do not eat chowmein, and do not see the husband’s face until after the wedding.
5. But even though Raj is a callous youth, a spoilt brat of a westernised father, he still becomes the vehicle for the demonstration of the Hindustani identity in matters of morality and in observation of parental desire. There are two moments in the film through which this shift takes place.
a) When Simran gets drunk and imagined making love to Raj. They totally want to do it, “toh phir problem kya hai ?” – Hum Hindustani. The whole point of this scene is that Hindustanifolk cannot do this. Pre-marital sex is the true haw-ji moment of the film.
b) When Simran is betrothed to Kuljeet, he decides to take this as a challenge. He won’t elope because he was a Hindustani! Not to forget how this saves him the horror of honour-killing.
6. The entire action is directed towards the larger aim of marriage. Features of the said marriage: orthodox, legal, endogamous, monogamous, heterosexual alliances and their affirmation are essential to keep all regressions in check. So, let’s all be the upholders of pure 100% Desi-ghee bred Hindustani culture and while we’re at it, celebrate some Patriarchy Day i.e. Karvachauth!
7. The movie concludes with the fulfilment of desire. The tableau is often and mostly marriage, touching the father’s feet, laying on the mother’s lap or the defeat of a villain. Guess what, DDLJ had all of them, and more!
The last fight sequence is of immense importance in the given context because the inclusion of the defeat of the villain signals not so much the end of evil, but a restoration of balance in social and personal relations as well, since the villain is situated within the personal, his defeat is accompanied by the union of families which is indicative of the integration of the nation itself. So having fulfilled the qualifications, Raj emerges as a true Hindustani. After all, apne to apne hote hain.
All the conflicts are now resolved as they are on their way (via rail) to become the family that eats together, prays together, stays together.
There are so many more reasons which make DDLJ eligible to be prescribed in schools. Let’s not slight it. It is in no magnitude inferior to a Greek epic.
The moral of the tale is – it’s all about loving… your nation. Culture. Patriarchy. Family. And definitely each other… in the long run, under the sanctioned framework. Jai Hind!
To know more about what I think of this story, follow me on twitter at @Kanika_Katyal