There was a palpable air of expectation and excitement outside the iconic Maratha Mandir theatre in Mumbai Central yesterday. Fans thronged to the venue to catch the first show of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ), as the film began its 1,000th straight week at the theatre.
Maratha Mandir, which houses more than 1,000 people, was sold out for the first show of the 1,000th week of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. Pics/Bipin Kokate
Now the longest running film in the history of Indian cinema, DDLJ, as it came to be known, broke new ground when it released, pitching Shah Rukh Khan in a romantic role at a time when he was known to play negative characters.
The NRI love story of Kajol and Shah Rukh Khan set the cash registers ringing for its production house Yash Raj Films, and propelled its lead pair into stardom. It has been running at Maratha Mandir ever since then.
Fans danced and sang along with Kajol on the screen
Counting down to Friday, enquiries started pouring in for Maratha Mandir, asking whether tickets would be available in advance. Normally, tickets are sold in current bookings. Foreseeing a huge crowd, the theatre started selling tickets to the balcony in advance for a humble sum of Rs 20 and seats were sold out fast.
Yesterday, fans lined up outside the current booking slots, and soon, the stall, which went for Rs 15 or Rs 17, was full as well. The auditorium, with a capacity of over 1,000 was housefull.
The theatre management had also spruced up its premises, as the lead pair of Shah Rukh and Kajol were expected to show up for the night show. The seats were repaired, decorations were put up, a sound system equipped with a microphone was ready for the celebrations.
The crowd showed up for the morning show, expecting to catch a glimpse of the cast. The manager of the theatre, Manoj Pandey, said, “This was the first time when we started advance booking for this movie, as we prefer selling current tickets.
As many kept asking us in the beginning of the week for tickets, we started advance booking. There has been one show of DDLJ every day, and it was Yash Chopraji’s wish to have the movie running till the 1,000th week, and so it did successfully.
We never aimed to earn money from this movie, and hence, did not increase prices of the tickets for this week.” Manoj Desai, managing director, Maratha Mandir, added, “The show will continue till people want to watch it. We do not intend to pull it out any sooner.
A huge crowd turned out expecting the actors to be present in the morning, as they thought the celebration was in the morning. It is in the night (Friday).”
First day, first show
Entry for the show began at 11.10 am and the stream of people continued 15 minutes into the movie not that anyone was missing much, having seen the film umpteen times. The crowd cheers and screams overpowered the sound system.
People danced when Kajol calls out to her imaginary lover while wearing a towel in ‘Mere Khwabon Mein Jo Aaye’. Young girls professed their love for Khan when he first entered the frame, screaming his name out loud.
Many voiced the dialogues word to word as the actors said them out, while hoping that, perhaps miraculously, Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol would surprise them with an appearance.
Though they were to be disappointed, fans nonetheless treasured the experience. As Kajol’s screen father Amrish Puri says, “Jee le apni zindagi.” The fans lived a special moment in their lives.
Dinshaw Wadia (65), Mumbai resident
I wish this movie continues in the theatre for a long time and that I get to watch it with my family again. I have already seen it ten times.
Erwin Fassler, Switzerland resident
Where there is Bollywood, there is Yash Chopra and Shah Rukh Khan. I own a tour company, where I have a ‘Bollywood in Switzerland Tour’, where people can see the locations where Hindi movies were shot. I came from Varanasi to watch DDLJ.
Bhagyashree Funde, Pune resident
I was here by 7 am and I am a very big fan and have watched the movie many times. I forced my friends as well to come along and they agreed. We are very happy and excited about seeing it on the big screen.
Swanand Desai (32), who came dressed as Raj
I can never be tired of watching this movie. It epitomises love and I have watched it 30 times in Maratha Mandir itself.