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Love versus Family- Neelanjana Gupta

While the ends of Raj-Simran and Romeo-Juliet’s stories are significantly different, we can broadly draw parallels between the two love stories. After all, there has to be a difference between a Shakespearean tragedy, and a signature Yash Raj Film bollywood production, right?

On the one hand, in DDLJ we find in Simran an obedient and well cultured daughter of London-based Baldev Singh. Coming from a small patriarchal family, she is well aware of her father’s love for his homeland, Punjab, and her parents’ expectations from her. On the other hand, she falls in love with Raj (also from London), but knows that her father would never agree to this proposal. Unlike in Romeo and Juliet, their families are not rivals,  instead things get sticky because Baldev Singh is adamant that his daughter settle in India, and Punjab is the only place where he will be able to find her a suitable and well cultured ideal groom.

At the onset of the movie we find Simran trying to convince her mother to let her tour Europe with her friends for a month before she has to settle down in India. But, of course, the ultimate decision maker is her father. She sees no reason to lie to her father or make an excuse to get his approval. Even though Baldev Singh is hesitant of sending Simran away for the trip, it seems as though he has faith in his upbringing and gives Simran the permission to travel around Europe. During the trip Simran repeatedly bumps into Raj (that is when we know that the two are bound to fall in love). Neither of them confesses their love for the other at the trip- which is hard to understand after all the loves songs they sing and dance to around European landscapes. Simran returns home realizing her love for Raj, but has given up. The fact that his daughters has fallen for another man shatters Baldev Singh’s trust in her, and he decides to leave for India to get Simran married immediately. Right after that we find ‘Pops’ (Raj’s father) telling Raj to go and profess his love for Simran and righteously bring her back home as his bride. But it is too late for that, and Raj will have to travel all the way to India to get her. The two meet each other, in India this time.

They could have easily eloped but here is where we see the dilemma Raj-Simran face: whether to give up their family values, disregard their tradition, rebel against their parents and elope or to let the wedding preparations continue as they are going and slowly persuade Simran’s father to believe in Raj. Till the very last minute we see Raj’s plan failing, and on the day of the Simran and Kuljit’s wedding Baldev Singh finds out that Raj is the boy who Simran met in Europe and fell in love with. Obviously, he is distraught. Raj and his father give up and are about to leave to return to London without the bride. But hey, this IS BOLLYWOOD! After some physical interaction between Raj and Simran’s fiance, Kuljit, once Raj gets on the train. At this point in the movie nothing is really said, only looks are exchanged between Baldev Singh and Raj. In just these few concluding seconds of the movie, Baldev Singh’s impression of Raj’s character is altered. He lets Simran go and ‘live it up’ (also with reference to 00:28:25).

I find it interesting that from the minute Simran met Raj in India, she tried to persuade him to elope. But Raj was sure that he wanted blessings of the elders in Simran’s family, and marry her according to traditional Indian norms, despite being aware of how challenging this would be. Raj gets an opportunity to justify himself and prove his love for Simran in front of the entire family towards the end of the film, and perhaps, that is what moves Baldev Singh later.  In his heart of hearts Simran’s father realizes that Raj and Simran could have ran away, betraying their family, but they did not- that is NOT what ”good” Indian boys do, it is just NOT a part of the culture. But fate had something else in store for Simran. In most Indian patriarchal families, it is common to see the father not even ask the daughter whether they ‘want’ to marry the boy.  And this was Simran’s case too, her father conveniently assumed that she is okay with the marriage, no questions are asked. It is generally believed that parents know what is best for their children, and following that Baldev Singh wanted that his daughter be close to her homeland. Thus, I would consider DDLJ a movie in which the actor and the actress have fallen in each other, but that is not enough for them; they want their families to be with them too- the film is a struggle of how they decide to become one while going hand in hand with their families.




Filed by Neelanjana Gupta at January 29th, 2013 under Uncategorized

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