The “Whitewashing” of DDLJ

The official cover art for the musical “DDLJ”

The official cover art for the musical “DDLJ”

The beloved Bollywood classic Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ) is being made into a musical. It seems amazing, but some are not happy with how the Indian male lead character, Raj, will be replaced with Rog, a white male in the musical, “Come Fall In Love.”

DDLJ, one of the most famous Bollywood movies in history, is the romance story of two young Indian characters, Raj and Simran. They meet on a trip to Europe  and start to fall in love as they are stranded together in a foreign country. 

Although this might seem like a typical rom-com, this narrative was something that had never been seen before in Bollywood or Hindi media. The main obstacle for the couple was that Simran was already betrothed to her father’s close friend’s son, and against all odds, the couple managed to end up together in the end. 

Tanvi Mehta, a Lambert junior, remembers how she related to the message of the movie when she first watched it. She says that the movie was about “finding yourself and escaping through the cultural binds of what your character is.”

The musical, “Come Fall In Love,” takes a slightly (or not so slightly) different approach to create a more modernized version of the same story. In the musical, Simran is an Indian American who meets Rog on a summer trip to Europe: the same premise as that of DDLJ.

Initially, the story for Raj and Simran was supposed to be one of an interracial couple, but they ended up casting the Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan instead of an American actor. However, some argue that with a couple as iconic as Raj and Simran, replacing Raj with Rog will not have the same presence as the original. Others state that the new story is better adapted for the newer audiences and gives credit to the original all the same.

“Maybe in the original time they should have gone through with it because the audience is different, and you don’t really see interracial couples in a lot of Indian movies or anything,” Mehta said. 

If DDLJ originally had been the love story of a brown girl and a white boy, it might have had an even larger presence. There was virtually no representation of interracial couples in Bollywood, and the culture considers it taboo. Others say that this mentality might be one of the past. In the new world, along with globalization and easier transportation, it is more common to see interracial couples than it was back in 1995, when DDLJ first released. 

Many are excited to see the musical as well. They are eager to see one of their favorite movies in another light and hope that this new version might touch more hearts than the last one. After all, evolution and change comes with time, and it’s almost 2023 — anything is possible!