DDLJ turns 25: Supporting cast shares their experience of making the cult classic
Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ) redefined romance on the big screen, and continues to makes audiences fall in love each time one watches this cult film. Starring Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol as the lead pair, this iconic Aditya Chopra directorial broke several records and went on to become a classic. Whether it’s the performances, scenes and dialogues, evergreen songs or breathtaking locations — everything about DDLJ still remains popular.
As the film clocks 25 years, we get talking to some of the key supporting actors from the film — Farida Jalal, Parmeet Sethi, Mandira Bedi, Pooja Ruparel, Himani Shivpuri and Anaita Shroff Adajania — who go down memory lane to recall anecdotes and tell us what makes the film special even today.
Parmeet Sethi aka Kuljeet Singh
I almost didn’t get the film as Armaan Kohli was shortlisted for the role. But I went to Adi and insisted that he give me a chance for a screen test, and rest is history. It was my and Adi’s first film, and we were all so pumped up. Everything just went beautifully. We never realised we were creating history. The reason the film did well was because it was a very fresh way of looking at romance. It was beautiful and simple and it had heart because it had the Indianness in it to that love story. Everything just came together in such a beautiful way that it became the perfect mix of everything.
Pooja Ruparel aka Chutki
I was 13 when I played Chutki. Karan Johar and Uday Chopra were assisting and Shah Rukh (Khan), Kajol and Adi (Chopra) were all friends and it was great to see friends making this movie. There was a young energy and vibe on the set. DDLJ being Adi’s first love, there was freshness in point of view, his freshness of the entire concept and it was all very ahead of his time back in the day. I don’t know if we fully realised that because at that point you’re just making a film and hoping for the best. I didn’t think for a second that it’d be my entry into the Guinness book of records.
Himani Shivpuri aka Kammo
The fact that it’s still running in Maratha Mandir tells a lot. People tell me almost everyday wherever I go that we can watch this film again and again. It always seems so fresh. You don’t feel that it’s dated. Everything seems so relevant. I knew Shah Rukh from the Delhi theatre scene. I also knew Anupam (Kher) from NSD (National School of Drama) and my character Kammo and his character had a cute romantic angle. We all used to eat together. We enjoyed doing it. None of us thought that it was going to become a milestone, these things just happen. Everything worked beautifully — the casting, the story, the song, everything just fell into place. It just created magic.
Farida Jalal aka Lajjo
It’s a cult film. Itne saalon mein bhi logon ka pyaar kam nahi hua. The title suggested by Kirron Kher was so apt; the songs still make people fall in love. These days film business are for Friday, Saturday and Sunday but back then, we celebrated film completing silver, golden and diamond jubilee, and DDLJ was screened in Maratha Mandir for over two decades. From casting, shooting, songs, everything was handpicked. Adi had so much maturity and conviction even at that young age. The way he narrated the film, that’s exactly how we saw it onscreen. This doesn’t happen often. Adi khud bana kar dikha de aur ek baer ek aisi film. I was shooting in Hyderabad, when (late) Yash Chopra ji called me for DDLJ. He was a big producer-director and we’d be surprised seeing him do everything, from being the AD to spot boy on set. Pam bhabi (Pamela Chopra) would set up those toys in Kajol’s room, bring things from her own kitchen to be used in film. Yeh film dil se banai gayi thi toh successful hona hi tha. I’ve immense respect for them.
Mandira Bedi aka Preeti
DDLJ had all sorts of ingredients of a classic, it had the mix of family values, it had the perfect boy meets girl story. Everybody wanted their love story to be like this. I remember Karan Johar, who was assisting Adi, called me and said they’re looking for an actor for a character, which is sort of a second heroine. I was a big fan of Yash Chopra and at that time, Shanti had completed six months so it felt really nice. Though I shot for 25 days, when I watched the film I was barely there, so back then it felt bad. But, it feels nice to do even a small part in a historical film. While shooting, food would come from Yashji’s house, and everyone would sit together to eat. There used to be a happy atmosphere on the set, no one had problems with anyone. In between shots, we’d also play cards. Though 2020 has been quite disastrous but it feels nice that there are things to be happy about. So, DDLJ completing 25 years makes things special, a film like this must be celebrated.
Anaita Shroff Adajani aka Sheena
The film remains special because of the people involved in it. My experience was surreal, as I had never been involved in the film industry at all. There was no entourage while we all travelled for shoot, it was like a big family. I didn’t know I was working with so many greats. I stumbled upon my role in the film. Adi and Karan were casting the friends, and they wanted someone from college. They rejected the 35 people I showed them, and finally said ‘You do it’. I said I can’t act, they said ‘Don’t worry, you’ll be fine!’. SRK showed me the way on set. We all are still good friends, that’s the magic of filmmaking. To see the humility of somebody like Yash Chopra hanging around there to support his son was magical. Pam was so busy feeding us and making sure we all were comfortable, even though we were so unimportant compared to big celebs. I never had that kind of experience ever again.
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