Happy Shahrukh Week: DDLJ Part 10! Let’s Be in a Spin!

DDLJ Part 9!  Do you know Xeno’s paradox?  (I know it from using it as a game with small children back when I was tutoring.)  There is a tortoise and a hare.  The tortoise goes forward one whatever at a time (when I played it with kids, I’d usually use the floorboards of their living room, so one floorboard at a time).  The hare goes forward half the distance from where he is to the end of the race each time he moves forward.  So on the first turn, if you have 20 floorboards, the tortoise goes one floorboard and the hare goes 10.  And then on the second, the tortoise goes one and the hare goes 5.  And so on.  What I’m saying is, I am the hare, and I am never going to finish this recap, because each entry goes half as slow as the previous entry.

(part 1 here, part 2 here, part 3 here, part 4 here, part 5 here, part 6 here, part 7 here, part 8 here, part 9 here, part 10 here, part 11 here, part 12 here, part 13 here, part 14 here, part 15 here, part 16 here)

This entry should actually be pretty fast, since I’m just dealing with a song, and songs are usually pretty easy.  Songs are so impressionistic it isn’t really worth going through frame by frame, and so straight-forward emotionally, that there isn’t as much to discuss in terms of character.  That is, they each usually only deal with one emotion.  So, the first song in this movie, what is there to say beyond “Amrish Puri walks through London and misses the Punjab”?  But “Zara Se Jhoom” is a little different, so I am going to actually do a whole entry on it.  But it should be a short entry!

“Zara Sa” isn’t like any other song in this movie.  Because it makes no sense!  Everything else makes sense.  “Ghar Aaja Pardesi” is Amrish Puri walking through London in reality and imagining the Punjab around him.  “Ho Gaya Hai Tujhko” is Kajol and Shahrukh traveling home and imagining each other along the way.  “Ruk Ja” and “Mehndi Laga ke Rakhna” are actual dances that happened in reality, they are referred to later as things that happened, and they have reasonable set ups for the characters to actually dance.  “Mere Kwabon Mein” feels like a fantasy song, but it actually isn’t.  It’s Kajol talking/singing to her mother as they go about their day in the house, contrasted with Shahrukh going about his day out in the world being awesome.  It’s actually an anti-fantasy song, showing how different the two of them are and how they could never be each other’s “fantasies”.  “Tujhe Dekha To” really confused me when I first saw it, because DDLJ was just my 3rd Indian movie (after Lagaan, like everyone else in America, and Rangeela, because our local Indian grocer recommended it), but I get it now, having seen the same kind of song in at least 400 other movies.  It’s just a straight up fantasy/shared hallucination song, like you see all the time, they stared into each other’s eyes and imagined what it would be like to be married and on their honeymoon.  But, as previously stated, “Zara Sa Jhoom” makes no sense!  It doesn’t work as a “reality” thing, or as something they are imagining while moving through reality, or as a shared fantasy.

It’s time and space that causes the problem (as is true of so many things!).  It seems to take place over the course of a day, all over a small Swiss village, but it begins at night and ends in the morning, and it begins in the barn and ends 20 feet away in the house.  So did they travel in a huge loop, out from the barn, through town, to the mountains, a luxury hotel, and back to the house?  And did it last all day, from when they wake up in the barn through to falling asleep back at the house?  Or did it just cover a couple of hours, from leaving the barn in early evening/twilight, to coming back to the house at the middle of the night?  And if it lasted that long and was that far-ranging, how do they never talk about it again?

I mean, really, let’s look at everything that happens over the course of this song:

  1. Kajol runs down the road in bright sunlightUntitled9.jpg
  2. Kajol dances through the main street of town with Shahrukh chasing herUntitled8.jpg
  3. Kajol jumps on the tiny little train engineUntitled10.jpg
  4. Kajol steals pastriesUntitled11.jpg
  5. Kajol crawls down the counter handing out strawsUntitled12.jpg
  6. Kajol sees the dress and breaks the window to get it.Untitled13
  7. Kajol dances by the fire in the snow and then falls and rolls down the mountain with Shahrukh chasing her Untitled14.jpg
  8. Kajol breaks into the fancy swimming pool, it is now night time outside the windows Untitled15.jpg
  9. Shahrukh gets drunk as well and chases her around the poolUntitled16.jpg
  10. They are in the dark empty street with wet hair, Kajol wearing his shirt over her dress and seemingly sober, Shahrukh picks her up and carries her off. Untitled17.jpg
  11. They are both asleep in the back of a horsedrawn carriage, it is night time.Untitled18.jpg

First, the most important thing about this song is how each of those items stars “Kajol [does something]”.  After an entire movie, and probably an entire life, of just doing what she is told, waiting for someone else to make the decision, to take the lead, she is, FINALLY, letting loose and just doing what she wants.  Because she has found someone who is willing to just follow behind and clean up her mess.

But, on the practical side of things, that’s like a day of activities, right?  Breakfast at the sweet shop, ride the train, steal the dress, spend the afternoon on the mountain, break into a hotel at the end of the day, finally end up on the street and hail a cab to take you home.  And then wake up in bed the next morning.

I don’t drink myself, but I am pretty sure that this is not how alcohol works?  She couldn’t possibly have had a little of whatever was in that bottle in the middle of the night and stayed drunk for another 24 hours, right?  Without drinking some more to keep the buzz going?  I could believe 2 hours of being drunk, maybe, but could they possibly have done all of this in 2 hours?  Is it possible that what was in the bottle was actually cocaine or something?

The time is really hard to get around, but I guess maybe the Space constraints almost work.  It looks like a pretty small resort town, so I could believe that she could run from where they are staying into town on her own.  And then run back and forth down main street for a bit.  And then Shahrukh has the brilliant idea to take her off into the mountains while she runs it off.  And then the swimming pool/resort is so large, I could believe it is in the mountains outside of town instead of the main street, so maybe she finds it out there and breaks in?  And the water sobers her up and she takes them back to town and gets a carriage to go home?  Okay, maybe, if they have all day to do this, I could see them covering that much ground.  But then we are back to the mysterious substance which makes Kajol lose all inhibitions for a full 24 hours.

Or maybe I’m over thinking this (No!  Surely not!  I have such a firm sense of proportion with this movie!), and maybe the answer is that the alcohol was just an excuse and Kajol knew exactly what she was doing.  Actually, from what we are shown, I think it is kind of supposed to be half and half.

The “drunk” Kajol in this song is really just Kajol as pure id (right?  id is the irrepressible desires one?), but it is still recognizably the Kajol we have known through out this film.  Or rather, it is the Kajol that we have seen being resisted by the Kajol ego (yes?  ego is the controlling one?) for the rest of the film.  Everything she has been afraid of, everything she has repressed, is all coming out.  She wants sweets, she wants travel, she wants to talk to strangers, she wants to dress sexy, she wants to dance, she wants to swim.  Most of all, she wants Shahrukh.  She is giving into her sexual desires here, just like all her other desires, but she isn’t giving into them indiscriminately.  Her interactions with all other men are way more fearless and friendly than before, but they are not sexual.  But with Shahrukh, she wants to kiss him, she wants to bury her head in his chest, she wants to embrace him.

And he wants to do the same to her.  After drinking the magic inhibitions removing juice, he finally responds to her advances, grabbing her, carrying her off, and taking her home.  Only, again, I don’t think it is the drink.  Besides the fact that alcohol doesn’t work like that, he takes less of a drink than we saw him have before in the barn, when all it did was make him sleepy and feel warm.

I think, what is actually happening, is that Kajol gets a little drunk and crazy.  And then she gets to enjoy being crazy and keeps it up even when she is no longer drunk.  Being the person who can do whatever they want without worrying about consequences.  Having Shahrukh run after her and clean up her messes.  So she keeps it going.  And Shahrukh finally realizes that the only way to stop her is to call her bluff.  To give her the response she is, literally, begging for.  So he gets “drunk” too and gives in to his urges without worrying about the consequences.  Notice, in all those images above, they are both really hamming it up.  This is not the kind of behavior, or rather misbehavior, we have seen from Shahrukh before.  Even during “Ruk Ja”, he wasn’t making these kinds of faces.  I’m pretty sure Shahrukh-the-character is supposed to be acting here, trying to shock Kajol back to normal with a dose of her own medicine.  And it works!  You can see how fast she goes from crazy to sane as soon as he takes up the crazy role.  From this:

Untitled6.jpg

To this:

Untitled7.jpg

In about 5 seconds.

And then it’s over, she’s back to being the responsible good girl, just like before.  But the awareness that she is able to break loose like that, that she has these kinds of desires hidden within her, changes the way we the audience see her character, and the way Shahrukh sees her.  And, more importantly, the way she sees herself (more on that tomorrow when we get to THE scene).

The song as a whole is in a grand tradition of “heroine gets drunk and crazy sexy” songs.  The obvious reference is”Khullam Khullam Pyar Karange”, in which Rishi and Neetu are the young couple in love wandering around a resort town while drunk.  It has a similar youthful and innocent vibe, playing tricks on passersby rather than singing a sexy club song.  And it is in a similar place in the movie, after the characters already know and trust one another, and therefore the drunkenness merely serves to lower their inhibitions and let them behave as they wanted to all along.  Heck, even the outfits are kind of the same!  Short red skirt on the girl to show her awakening sexuality while still being tied to marital colors, and jeans and jacket on the guy to show his westernized global cool!

(“Khullam Khulla Pyar Karenge”, Rishi and Neetu actually drunk while filming this, and also actually dating.  So cute!)

However, there is a big difference in that Rishi is not Neetu’s protector in that song, if anything it is the other way around.  Well, not “protector” exactly more like “keeper”.  Rishi is the one who jumps off roofs and peeks at courting couples, Neetu is the one who drags him away.  The gender story told in that song is that Neetu’s attraction is making her want to stay close to Rishi, to keep him close to her, while Rishi’s hormones are making him jump and run and show off.  And then it resolves when they finally embrace each other and give in to their urges.

But in “Zara Sa Jhoom”, Kajol is the one who is going a little crazy.  And Shahrukh is the one how has to keep drawing her back to him.  Most importantly, while they are equally attracted to each other, they are not giving in to it at the same moment.  Neetu and Rishi are in sync, both a little drunk, both a lot horny.  But Kajol takes the lead here, and forces Shahrukh to run to catch up to her, literally and metaphorically.

Another interesting parallel would be the red dress sequence in Raja Hindustani.  Which actually came out after DDLJ, but it deals with the same themes, and the same dress, only with alcohol removed.  In that, Karisma, the girl, again takes the lead and forces the hero to clean up after her.  She falls in love with a dress in the window of a store on the main street of a small resort town, buys it against the objections of the hero, and then he is forced to fight to defend her honor when she appears in it.

 

Now, I love Raja Hindustani (the ending is a massive game of keep-away with a newborn baby!  What’s not to love!), but I think Shahrukh handles the same situation a little better in DDLJ than Aamir does in Raja Hindustani.  In DDLJ, faced with a girl in an inappropriate outfit in the middle of a small town, Shahrukh simply moves her to a different location where she can do whatever she wants, instead of trying to curtail her behavior.

And this is because there is nothing wrong with her behavior.  Yes, it is a little hard to clean up after, but she isn’t doing anything “wrong”, like, morally.  The movie doesn’t condemn her for what happened.  Maybe that is why it never comes up again, because what is there to say?  She got drunk, she ran around a little, she sobered up.  No need for recriminations or postmortems.  And sure, she was out of control, but before she became out of control, before she even decided to take that drink, she knew she was with someone who would take care of her no matter what, and she made her decision based on that.  And she was right, he did take care of her.

Okay, that’s it for today!  Come back tomorrow for THE scene.  You know the one.  I’m guessing, it will be at least a thousand words on the feminist implications, another thousand on their individual characters, at least 5oo on the many imitations and rip-offs since then, and an infinite number of words spent on the squeee-able elements like “And then his voice gets all rough and deep and intense in a way we’ve never heard before and he says ‘Main hoon’…”

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30 thoughts on “Happy Shahrukh Week: DDLJ Part 10! Let’s Be in a Spin!

  1. You’re making view this movie so differently to what I’ve seen it as. I love analysing movies but never thought to do so to DDLJ. You’ve opened up an amazing new world for me!

    I totally want my Raj now ahahaha.

    Was there a similar situation in that Karishma and Salman starrer? Where they’re in Europe and she gets drunk and gets into trouble and salmon defends her honour? Okay – that’s probably more in line with Raja Hindustani.

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    • Dulhan Hum le Jayenge maybe? Is that what you are thinking of? It’s a really close relative of DDLJ, almost a spoof. But also super lighthearted and fun! The big difference being that Salman is in love with her all along and only goes on the Europe tour to meet her. But there is the same moment when he takes care of her and the whole relationship shifts.

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  2. Yeah that’s right! It was that movie.

    I preferred this scene in DDLJ than the one in DHLJG. Waaayyyy better.

    Speaking of spoofs – I loved Humpty Sharma – the references to DDLJ and god knows how many other movies just made that movie a laugh riot. I did appreciate the twist too – where the dad doesn’t believe Humpty’s stupid story of the lehenga. Usually they show parents believing any silly story the lead cooks.

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    • I love Humpty Sharma! And I appreciated how the we’re able to do the same kind of plot without making the heroine completely helpless, or her father completely unreasonable.

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  3. Would love to see your analysis on that movie! I need to watch it again.

    Yeah so true! The girl has spunk! The dad is normal lol.
    Aside from a couple of errors – pretty good movie – loved how the other guy was just a great guy and our hero wasn’t perfect.

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    • Yes! About the fiance! It goes a long way to redeeming the father and therefore strengthening the heroine for wanting to obey him. He really did pick out a great guy! It wasn’t just some blind obedience to “honor”, he sincerely thought the fiance was the better option, because on paper, he wss.

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  19. What if this song is Kajol’s fantasy of what it would be like if she got drunk? Like what she would want to do and what she would want to act like.

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    • Oooo, I like that! So she actually just fell asleep and Shahrukh took her inside and undressed her. Only, that doesn’t explain why he says her clothes were wet. Oh right, it snowed inside the barn.

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      • Exactly! Or maybe we could say that her clothes got wet when they were walking from the barn to the house because it was still snowing.

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  20. My attention was drawn to this post because of Niki’s recent comment, so I just read it. Without going into all the details, I just want to say that I always thought Kajol running along the road in the afternoon, at the beginning of the song, was just Adi Chopra’s mistake as a first time director, in not really knowing how to shoot “day for night” (the song starts in the night, in the barn, IIRC). That removes all your problems of space and time, because then the song only lasts a couple of hours, which is not so improbable for Kajol to be drunk (assuming one can get drunk on half a glass of whatever). Then, toward the end, I think Shahrukh pretends to “drink” and get “drunk”, just to show Kajol how outrageous her behavior has been. And she, realizing that if both of them are out of control, it will be really bad news, calms down, and SRK takes her back to where they’re staying.

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  22. Hey! Add me to the (small) chorus of people loving and appreciating the care you put into these posts. So much fun to work through!

    I’m not much of a commenter but the space-time issues of the song have always been a *shrug* *handwave details* thing for me too, and your questions got me to thinking a bit more about it just like the other commenters. Especially since everything else HAS been so carefully constructed, it seems an odd misstep.

    So the take I ended up with on it is that it IS deliberate (… well, I assume), taking advantage of the space-time-fantasy bending properties of songs and not really strictly adhering to any of them, to make this moment a Russian-nesting-doll distillation of the holiday as a whole. That is, in the sense that Simran is getting a month to pack a whole lifetime into, she is – through the benevolent magic of the song/director – packing a WHOLE DAY of totally unrestrained id into just these drunk few evening hours. Before she has to go back to being Baldev Singh’s Daughter Even On Holiday.

    (I think that’s also part of what’s behind things like her refusing to go back into the bedroom, sober at least, with Raj even though no one will ever know; it wasn’t just a line she gave her dad to let her go, I believe she is totally committed to abiding by What Would Baldev Singh’s Daughter Do… Except for this one time when she allows getting drunk to give her an excuse to escape that. Which makes the next morning even more of a freak out! But I haven’t got to that part yet, I’m excited to see what you have to say! :))

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    • Oh what fun, someone going through the posts in order! I like your idea, that this is the magical expansion of the entire wildness inside of Kajol, even though in “reality” it could be just a few hours of dancing around inside/outside a barn until she wears herself out.

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      • It’s lots of fun and you’ve done so much work on it! I would try to promise to comment some more to encourage it, but I just don’t know if I’ll have that much to say.

        Yeah, I like the idea that Adi (being the ultimate benevolent deity over their story, after all) just gave her an evening and a song where he allowed her not just out of the rigid rules of her world that she had been following up until that point, but also out of the laws of physics just a little bit, to mark out how extraordinary her giving herself permission to break free was, because she as a character needs it.

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