South Asia

The Bollywood romcom still showing after 15 years

Cinemagoers watch "DDLJ" in Mumbai on 11 July 2010
Image caption Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl: a classic recipe for box office bullion

After a summer of under-performing blockbusters, Hollywood bosses might do well to look at the incredible success of India's longest-running film, still packing in cinema-goers after 15 years.

Released in 1995, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (The big hearted will take the bride) has become one of the most popular films of all time.

Having broken all records in terms of number of showings and box office takings, it is now in its 769th week at one of the main cinemas in Mumbai (Bombay), the beating heart of Bollywood.

And the film continues to play to a nearly full house over weekends at the 1,000-plus-seat Maratha Mandir cinema in the south of the city.

Spectators stream in in steady numbers for the matinee show of DDLJ - as it is popularly known - at the 52-year-old cinema.

Image caption The film catapulted Shahrukh Khan to Bollywood megastardom

The best seats cost just 20 rupees (42 US cents; 27 UK pence).

Manoj Desai, executive director of the cinema, says the movie has been a record-breaking success for multiple reasons.

"The film is perfect with lovely music and the best Bollywood pair," he says.

"Also, this theatre is in a strategic location where we get 40% viewing from people who are travelling into or out of Mumbai.

"This place is for masses, so the rates have been maintained for years. Most importantly the film is important because of its message of love with parents' permission."

For sheer box office staying power, the movie has even leap-frogged classics such as The Sound of Music and The Guns of Navarone, Mr Desai said.

'Magical'

It is a love story, where boy meets girl (both Indians living in London) on a trip to Europe.

But girl's marriage is already fixed to her father's friend's son in Punjab in India.

What follows is an entertaining drama careering between London and Punjab, and in the end, of course, the lovers get together - with the families' blessing.

The lead pair, Shahrukh Khan and Kajol, became stars overnight.

The film catapulted Shahrukh Khan, now also known as King Khan, to the top league of stars and he was typecast as a "romantic hero" for years.

Cinema officials say nearly all seats are taken at weekends and the film sometimes does better than new releases.

The film is now run on a no-profit, no-loss basis for the theatre as well as for Yash Raj Films, producer of DDLJ.

Jagjivan Maru, the cinema's chief projectionist, who has been showing this movie since its release, says it is magical.

"I have seen this movie every day for the last 14 years. That is a record in itself. It is our job to show the film. However, I never get bored of DDLJ.

"It's like I am in a loving relationship with the film. I still love the last scene when Amrish Puri [who plays father of the actress] slaps Shahrukh Khan."

A story well told

Rishi, who had come to see the film, said: "I had seen this film earlier four to five times many years back. I also see it on TV once in while.

Image caption The laughed, they cried, they came back to see it again and again

"I dropped in with my friends. Maybe I still like the film because I first saw it in my college days and it really worked then. Most of my friends saw the film many times - for the love story, songs and the actors."

Taran Adarsh, a trade analyst says: "It is not about the records this film has set. Records will follow if there is content.

"This film has got everything right: music, actors, direction. The movie is still making decent collections despite it being shown on TV very often. It is a story well told."

The cinema officials plan to keep the film running as long as they can and have planned a big celebration in October 2010 to mark the full 15 years since its release.

Among other popular features of the movie is its catchphrase "Come, fall in love" - and the audience at Maratha Mandir seemed to have done just that with DDLJ.