The audience is still pouring in even after the movie’s interval. Some people use a few taps on their phone to pay at the ticket window, while others throw fistfuls of coins down. They are office workers, students, prostitutes from the surrounding defunct red-light district, day labourers in India’s “maximum city,” and the homeless with abandoned hopes.
Each year, the Indian cinema industry screens roughly 1,500 stories. But the crowd that gathers at the Maratha Mandir cinema in Mumbai every morning is there for a film that was released 27 years ago and has subsequently resonated so strongly that this once-grand 1,100-seat theatre has shown it every day—except for periodic breaks—ever since.
The movie “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge” (also known as “D.D.L.J.”), which translate “The Big-Hearted Will Take the Bride,” is a boy-meets-girl tale set against the backdrop of an Indian period of great change and untamed possibilities.
A growing middle class gained greater access to opportunities, technologies, and exposure because to the recent opening of the Indian economy. However, it also created fresh tensions as the options provided by economic opportunity — to choose your own love and your own life — clashed with the preserving customs of the past.
Many people believed “D.D.L.J.’s” record run would come to an end when the epidemic shut down theatres for a year. However, the movie is scheduled to screen at Maratha Mandir at 11:30 a.m., where it frequently draws crowds that outnumber those who attend afternoon showings of the newest movies. Some of the attendees have seen it here 50, 100, or hundreds of times and have lost track.
A welder had seen it approximately a dozen times, while a cab driver who was in line outside the theatre one morning this fall had watched it six times. A 33-year-old delivery worker and a secondhand goods dealer with greying hair both reported receiving roughly 50 viewings each. Then there were the regulars who made the trip almost every day. About 20 mornings every month, Madhu Sudan Varma, a 68-year-old homeless man who has a part-time job feeding nearby cats, comes.
The female who comes every day to watch DDLJ, she said, “I come every day. “Every day, I like it.” Even she is unaware about her real name, which may be Jaspim. It does not matter because everyone refers to her as Simran, the name she chooses, much like the on-screen celebrity.
Fans of “DDLJ” turn out in force to watch a young, dashing SRK—who would later become the romantic ideal of a whole generation of young people—wear that iconic Harley-Davidson leather jacket and repeat to a doe-eyed Kajol, “Senorita, bade bade deshon mein aisi cchoti cchoti baatein hote rehte hain” (Senorita, little things like this happen in big countries).