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DDLJ and Maratha Mandir: They Met, Sparks Flew and History was Created


Source: Google Images
Source: Google Images

When you think “Maratha Mandir”, DDLJ automatically comes to your mind. It’s like yin and yang, you don’t think one without the other. Both DDLJ and Maratha Mandir are part and parcel of each other. A packaged deal you would say.

I am sure many of you have “Watch DDLJ at Maratha Mandir” in your bucket list. I myself have this as one of the must do things. But friends, this might not be so easy to achieve if we take in the recent happenings. And the current happenings have shown that this romance has all the makings of a Bollywood drama.

Source: Google Images
Source: Google Images

Mumbai’s Maratha Mandir, a single screen cinema near the Mumbai Central has screened Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Bollywood’s definitive romance ever since its release date of October 19, 1995 (I wasn’t even born then!) at the 11:30 AM slot. (Love at first sight for these two !)The tickets were sold at Rs 17 and Rs 15. 20 bucks earned you a balcony seat – much cheaper than the prices charged by multiplexes !

Source: Google Images
Source: Google Images

DDLJ’s 1009-week uninterrupted run makes it the longest running film in the history of Indian cinema, a record previously held by 1975 blockbuster Sholay which ran in Mumbai’s Minerva Theater for five years.

Its interesting to note the fact at how these two have helped each other climb the ladder to fame. In the overall picture they are both so inconsequential, a movie and a movie theater  . They shouldn’t matter so much should they? After all, we have so many other, more important and urgent matters to think of.  But just the fact that Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge has been running at Maratha Mandir for close to 20 years has sort of made them into landmarks of our nation. Elevating them both to a permanent place in our history.

Now, you all know the Raj-Simran story by heart, don’t you ? The film depicted what the youth then aspired for, a rail-trip with friends, a backpacking trip across Europe and a summer romance that lasted a lifetime. It’s all valid even today. Perhaps, the reason it resonated with the public then was because it was a feast for a newly liberalized nation, and was yet rooted in the hearty traditions of Punjab. But the reason it’s stayed relevant through all these years is because under all the eccentric packaging of foreign locales and singing-dancing, it’s a struggle of a love that flourishes in the end. It survives all odds. And we as a country, love making it alive out of a struggle. That’s the post-independence effect.

Here, refresh your memories by our post to demarcate the 1000 week long run of DDLJ at Maratha Mandir:

The ‘Come, fall in love’ tagline of the movie hints at the mass hysteria this movie has created over the years. It has inspired many imitations. Movies such as Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya have heavily borrowed elements and plot-line from DDLJ, but none of them have been able to recapture the essence of love that had all of us looking for our real life Rajs and Simrans. If Obama couldn’t resist quoting DDLJ at his recent India visit, who are we to stay immune to its charms?

In Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Deepika is quick to counter Ranbir that watching DDLJ at Maratha Mandir is equivalent to Broadway’s rendition of Phantom of the Opera.

Source: Google Images
Source: Google Images

Then came the twist in the story. A 1009 weeks – almost 20 years – later, the theater put up a notice board outside the cinema house last week declaring that the 9.15am show on February 19 would be the last one for the blockbuster film. The ominous news hadn’t spread yet. A measly audience of 210 watched the final show.

Source: Google Images
Source: Google Images

While the theater management was happy to continue the film for as long as it continued to draw in the audiences, owing to logistical issues of their staff having to work inordinately long hours to accommodate an additional early morning show, it was decided to end the films historic & record breaking run. After playing for 1009 uninterrupted weeks, the films unprecedented performance was to come to an end. Rumours were rife that DDLJ would be replaced by MSG: Messenger Of God. Like that would pulled in big numbers !

It broke hearts of people like me who had a bucket list with ‘Watching DDLJ at MM’ doodled right on top, amidst the hearts and flowers. So, did this mark the end of the saga for these star crossed lovers ?

Obviously no ! Honestly, don’t you have a filmy bone in your body ?

The management was flooded with requests to reinstate the move. Social media was outraged. ‘Maratha Mandir’ and ‘Evergreen DDLJ’ began trending on Twitter. Hours after the announcement, the cinema management extended its screening by a week, i.e till 26th Feb, Thursday. “In the meanwhile, we will decide its fate,” said the owner.

It was a slight comfort for everyone, to get a chance to bid adieu to their favourite romance. The lovers, DDLJ and the cinema were given one last week together. Seeing their children suffer, and the fans outraged, melted the hearts of their respective parents (YRF and Maratha Mandir management). They have almost immediately reconsidered their decision.  It has been mutually decided to continue the screening in the same 11:30 AM morning show – without breaking the uninterrupted run of the movie!
The magic this movie has created speaks for itself, since the public hasn’t had enough of it in these twenty years. And Maratha Mandir has been instrumental in keeping it alive all this time.

It’s been a symbiotic relationship for these two, one that all cinema goers aspire to experience once in their lifetime. So no matter how many movies go on to collect 500 crores at the box office, they don’t stand a chance to match the grandeur of this master-piece. Yash Raj Chopra really left behind a legacy. And now, since the scare of the movie being taken down is afresh, it is generating revenue for the cinema. It’s a win-win !

Such a happy ending !

It’s almost like the Amrish Puri send-off. The management going, “Jaa DDLJ jaa, jee le apni zindagi”. So, Raj, Simran and Bauji are here to stay. Come, fall in love, again! But quickly go and watch it now, who knows when they might decide to scare us like that again.

By- Navni Bhatia


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