Dilwale and Dushman: Spoilers Go Boom!! Do Not Read if you have not seen!

So, yesterday I talked about how Shahrukh’s film Trimurti from the 90s echos the themes in Dilwale (plagiarism?  An homage? Laziness?  Who’s to say?!?!) (it’s laziness).  But Trimurti isn’t the only film that explores concepts which are touched on by Dilwale.  Going back into the 90s, we find Dushman, another film in which Kajol fights for her sister, triumphs through violence, and then turns to love.

So, in yesterday’s post, I mentioned how exciting it was to have a film with a strong sister relationship, since those are usually completely ignored.  Dushman is just the sistery-est sister film that ever sistered!  And speaking of sisters, it was written by the sister of my favorite author, Anupama Chopra (King of Bollywood, British Film Institute: Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, First Day, First Show, etc.).

Probably because it was written by a woman, for once the female character has a real emotional journey.  Kajol plays twins, one of whom is murdered, which leads the remaining twin to take vengeance on her killer.  While most vengeance films skip over the sorrow of death that leads to the revenge, this one does not.  Many minutes of film time are spent showing the emptiness of the house, the real weight of the tragedy of a life taken too soon.

(notice that it is mostly her mother and her sister missing her, the mother-daughter and sister-sister relationships for once being given precedence, even over that of the dead woman’s fiance)

When we are first introduced to Kajol, she is the shy and sweet sister.  The traditional one with long hair.  After the death of her more outgoing sister, she enters into a depression.  Finally, she is jolted out of it when she begins to be threatened by the same creepy rape-y killer guy who killed her sister.  This drives her from depression to fear.

(she should definitely be afraid.  I would be too!)

Then, she (literally) bumps into blind Sanjay Dutt, former commando, who offers to train her so that she can learn to fight back.  This drives her from fear to anger and confidence.

And finally, the end of her emotional journey, a confident sexual awakening as she learns to desire Sanjay Dutt for the respect and support he has shown her.

(who among us has not fantasized about 90s Sanjay in a suit?)

The ending of the film is not her defeat of her sister’s killer, but rather her successfully convincing Sanjay Dutt to marry her, despite his reservations, because it is what she wants.

So, what does this have to do with Dilwale?

Well, plotwise, the parallel’s are a little weak, but in terms of Kajol’s emotional journey, it is the same but all out of order and mixed up.


  1. Shy devoted sister
  2. Violence and tragedy change everything
  3. Falls passionately and unashamedly in love
  4. Confident a fierce woman not afraid to kill her enemies and claim her love.


  1. Confident and fierce woman not afraid to kill her enemies and claim her love
  2. Falls passionately and unashamedly in love
  3. Violence and tragedy change everything
  4. Shy devoted sister

Now, what I find most interesting here, is how the position of the man has changed.  In Dushman, she starts as a sweet woman, a little shy, never been in love.  It takes a man to shake things up and teach her to be tough and confident.  In Dilwale, it is the reverse.  She is a confident tough woman who revels in violence, and it takes a man to teach her to love, to be forgiving and caring.

In either one, the man changes her, which of course sounds bad, but actually isn’t.  It’s not like he “fixes” her, he just acts as a catalyst, along with other events, in her growth.  What I like more is that in both films, the man is just there to help her grow, she is not there to help him.  In fact, the male character remains a fixed point, while the female character is the one who develops through out the film.

That’s actually one of my favorite parts of Dilwale, that Shahrukh’s character is established as an fighter for those he loves, but not naturally violent, angry, or untrusting.  He falls for Kajol immediately and tells her exactly who he is.  When he learns of her betrayal, he is heart-broken, but still does not want revenge or violence, and still loves her.

The character we meet in the present day is fairly similar to Shahrukh in the past.  He is gentle and kind to those he loves and unforgiving to those who would harm them.  It’s just that now there are fewer potential harm-ers around.  His character actually has minimal emotional changes, his power is in his steadfastness.


In contrast, look at the journey Kajol’s character goes on!  She is a cold and calculating daughter of a cold and calculating father.  She runs his criminal empire and has no compunction about killing.  Shahrukh’s steadfast devotion and loyalty shake her to such an extent that she not only becomes his devoted lover, even after they are no longer together, she still takes this new soft and caring perspective into account when deciding to devote her life to her sister.

So, this is why I love Dushman, and to a lesser extant Dilwale, and this why I suspect Kajol was willing to be in both films.  For once, she is a multi-faceted character with shades and journeys and emotions.  No, actually, not for once, because Kajol is Kajol, and she always creates a character like that.  But for once, the script supports her in it!


15 thoughts on “Dilwale and Dushman: Spoilers Go Boom!! Do Not Read if you have not seen!

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