Not as exciting a section as the last one, no direct SRKajol interaction, but plenty of back and forth between Shahrukh and other characters. (full DDLJ index here)
This is an interesting moment for showing the dynamics of these parties. When he arrives, Shahrukh is immediately introduced to Amrish, as the host and most important person. And then Kuljit drags him over to meet Kajol, seemingly the only men meeting her instead of the string of women who are coming over to bless her that we see moving away. Shahrukh is jumping the line and out of place, because Kuljit wants to show off his new toy to his friend.
But now they are back in the general swing of the party, and this is when they meet the other women. The women don’t get to be in the formal receiving line at the door, they are on their feet bringing food back and forth, to be met as you run into them. But, they also have to stop everything they are doing and pay attention any time a guest stops them. Which is what Farida does here when Kuljit casually prevents her from moving forward until she meetings Shahrukh.
(Also, Kuljit’s expression here is really unflattering, which I enjoy)
Notice how Kuljit was kind of standing back, arranging how he wanted them to interact. But now that he is gone. Farida and Shahrukh both kind of relax. Farida can be welcoming but slightly less respectful to this young man who isn’t her future son-in-law.
The camera makes it a little more intimate as well, going slightly closer so we can see how they are smiling at each other and their eyes are meeting. This isn’t a young man dismissing an older woman after token respect, Shahrukh is showing that he is really interested in her, and Farida is responding to that. It’s not just in his words, it’s in everything.
And look how Farida turns him down! Especially considering what we can see in the background. People in formal clothes talking formally, taking little sips of things, being all proper. And Farida is beginning to loosen up a bit with Shahrukh, use big hand gestures, protest instead of politely accepting what he says. And Shahrukh likes it! He’s got this little smile, he wants her to be real with him, not just polite and respectful because he is a man.
Here’s where the character backstory comes into play in an almost invisible way. We know Shahrukh has no mother, or any older woman in his life, no family besides his father. Amrish and Anupam are set up as such clear contrasts to each other. But Farida has no contrast, she is the only older woman in the film (well, until a few minutes from now when we meet another one). Shahrukh’s whole interest in winning over her and the rest of the family has an invisible component of wanting a family because he doesn’t really have one. Or, at least, enjoying this family more than Kuljit for instance who has known them forever and has his own large family. And that is also the invisible component of telling Kajol they shouldn’t elope. He knows better than her the value of a family, because he doesn’t have one of his own.
And, for our Shahrukh-obsessed people, of course this is also something he experienced in real life. He became very close to his in-laws over the years because they were his only extended family. He is playing this scene with Farida, asking her to call him “son”, shortly after in real life his own mother died.
And, DIMPLE ALERT!!!! That’s really the only reason for this screenshot. A youthful deployment of the Dimples of Destiny.
No wonder Farida is so overcome! Well, plus his statement that he wishes to be her son. Which is a nice thing to say in general, especially since he is clearly saying it sincerely and really does want a mother figure and respect that bond. But also, she is the mother of the bride. He is part of the groom’s family. No one ever wants to jump from groom to bride, it’s so much lower in status. But Shahrukh does, he respects Farida both as an older woman, and as part of the bride’s family, something she really did not expect from this dimple-y boy.
Farida is such a good actress! She’s only 16 years older than Shahrukh, and this is Shahrukh at his dimply peak, but when she looks after him there is a clear glance of love and attraction, but only in a motherly way. Famously, Aditya promised Shahrukh that if he took this role (which was not like the kind of different roles he was exploring at the time) he would be every woman’s dream lover and every mother’s dream son. And Farida is our mother stand in, just as Kajol is our woman stand in. Later, of course, Little Anjali will be the stand in for little kids who want a dream father, Kareena will be the stand-in for young women who want a dream Jeeja, and all the Chak De girls are the stand-ins for the women of India who want a dream champion. And you know we all want to get therapy from him after Dear Zindagi.
And break! This party scene is organized so well, it all clearly takes place in the same farmhouse, but there are discrete areas that are separated from each other just as the action is separated. Amrish stays over close to the door to greet people. Kajol is in a corner by herself, to be “viewed” by the select appropriate guests. Farida is moving around the courtyard where people are strolling or meeting up. And then there is the large inner area where guests have settled into talking groups and the only people moving around are those serving them. Like Shahrukh.
Oh, and before I forget, colors again! Farida is in green and Shahrukh in red in the last scene. It makes them pop off the screen a little, makes us focus on their interaction. Here, Shahrukh kind of blends. Some people are in red, some in yellow, some in green. And there is that red couch in the middle of the room too. He is moving about just one of the crowd, being invisible and helpful.
Just like Mandira Bedi (by the way, if you haven’t already, check out my proposed Mandira Bedi happy ending. I want her to go to nursing school and get the heck out of this small town!). Interesting gender thing, Kuljit and his friend get to be honored guests, but Mandira, although still part of the grooms family, naturally jumps in and starts helping to serve food just because she is a young woman. Although, based on what I have seen in other movies, I think that is also partly her personality and this particular situation. If she were less sweet, and if this wasn’t her neighbor’s house that she knows well, I think she could probably play the “groom’s side” card and sit there waiting to be given things just like everyone else.
Mandira and Shahrukh have a little back and forth with them each trying to get out of the way of the other, until finally Shahrukh steps aside and gestures “After you” so she can pass. Poor Mandira! Again, Shahrukh is just being nice and friendly. He was raised abroad, this is how he is with men, women, everyone. But for Mandira, someone joking with her a little bit and giving her a smile is as good as a romantic proposal. She clearly is not only in love with him, but has a shy confident little smile like this tiny moment means he must be interested in her as well. But he isn’t. Again, colors tell us! They clash slightly, her black with multi-colored trim doesn’t quite work with his red.
Super cute moment when Shahrukh pretends to be driving the tray as he goes back to the kitchen to fill it up again. See, this is why we all fell in love with his character! He combines the serious grown man stuff, with still being the kind of adorable little boy you can’t resist giving a hug. He sees an empty tray, and he starts making car noises with his mouth.
Speaking of cute naughty little boys, his interaction with Himani Shivpuri here! He is a naughty little boy in the film for making fun of her think accent. And he is a naughty little boy outside of the film for probably offering to do this scene because in real life he can do a think Punjabi accent like that naturally.
Besides the accent, it’s also a really great sign of how seriously Shahrukh is taking his task of winning over Kajol’s family, and how good he is with women. He isn’t flirting with her, not even in the “flirting” way he is with Mandira Bedi. Because she is considerably older than him. But he also isn’t calling her mother or even aunt (I don’t think), he is treating her as though she is still a vibrant young woman, teasing her, agreeing with her, not relegating her to the invisible status of an older woman.
And this is something he figures out immediately, but it’s not because he is a mind reader or unbelievably sensitive. The clues are there already, her jewelry and elaborate dress and slightly sexy way of wearing the dupatta. It’s all different than Farida, and the other women there. And Shahrukh is empathetic and observant enough to pick up on these clues and use them.
Check out, in contrast, Kuljit’s idiot friends in the background. They are talking to each other and drinking, not helping to serve, and not even bothering to talk to people outside of their little group. They have no interest in learning about others, and even if they did, I doubt they would have the intelligence to do it as well as Shahrukh does.
By the way, how awesome in Himani’s character???? On my first watch I just saw her as kind of comic relief. And she is, in a way. But she is also the part of the family that you can see Kajol came from. She doesn’t want to settle for an arranged marriage, she won’t keep quiet about her complaints, she is the grown up version of Kajol from the beginning, dreaming about her dream lover. Only, luckily, without Amrish as a father so she is allowed to keep her dreams. Oh! That’s another interesting thing! An argument could be made that Kajol shouldn’t be allowed to break her engagement to Kuljit just ’cause, since then she would have a hard time ever getting married, and what a tragedy that would be! Except, NOT! Here is Himani, unmarried and middle-aged, and still happy and confident in herself. Is it any wonder she is the first one Shahrukh slips with and introduces himself as her future son-in-law?
Also, again for the Shahrukh obsessed among us, we know this is how his love story went in real life. He and Gauri took out her favorite aunt, the young fun modern one, and told her the whole story. And then worked from there up the family line until he had won over everybody. I know it probably is just my imagination, but something about the sweet way he looks at Himani here makes me flash back to him feeling grateful to that real life young and free-thinking aunt who immediately welcomed him into her family, despite the whole Muslim-orphan-secretly dating for 7 years-unemployed actor thing.
I’ve been resisting the real life parelals until this post, but so long as they are coming up, I might as well dig into it a little more. If you don’t know the Shahrukh love story (which seems unlikely if you care enough to read a close-reading of DDLJ, but maybe), he and his now wife fell in love as teenagers. They dated off and on in a way that slowly went from shy teenage stuff to really serious. And finally decided they had to be married, around the time he began getting acting offers in Bombay, while she was still living in Delhi. His father was dead, his mother was seriously ill, his future relied on being able to build on the success of one TV serial with nothing to fall back on if he failed (no family money). And he was Muslim. His girlfriend was from a good military family, Hindu, with a lot of relatives in her combined household. And none of her relatives had any idea that she had been dating this Muslim guy with no future since she was 14.
They started by taking her aunt out for lunch, introducing Shahrukh as her “Friend” and then slowly explaining the situation. Eventually, Gauri took Shahrukh to a party at her house, where everyone was very excited to meet the young man from the “Fauji” TV serial. Until he had a chance to be alone with her father and confessed everything, at which point he was thrown out of the house. A story that I have heard in a few places is that at one point, while her father was forbidding the whole thing, her brother went around to Shahrukh’s place, showed him a gun, and threatened to kill him. But he persevered, eventually won over the whole family. And in the end, they had a huge Hindu wedding with all her relatives happily in attendance, and in the years since he has become extremely close to all his in-laws, and was devastated a few years back when his father-in-law died.
What Shahrukh and others have also occasionally said in interviews is that DDLJ was a unique film for him, because it kind of was his story. Boy and girl fall in love, boy has no family and girl has tons, they could elope but boy chooses not to, preferring to take as long as necessary to win over the family and start their life clean. And then the flip side is that DDLJ helped build up his story. Even before, it was always part of the Shahrukh Khan persona that he was helplessly devotedly in love with his girlfriend. There are super early interviews I have read that talk about how, even before they were married, he would have her picture with him always and was constantly pulling it out and showing everyone from the spot boys to reporters who gorgeous his girlfriend was. That’s part of what made him different, while most romantic heroes were hiding their love stories, or at least not talking about them all the time, Shahrukh always put his front and center. And then with this movie, and the promotions ever since that discuss how it shows partially his real story, suddenly we all became very very invested in this nice young couple that wanted to get married with their family’s blessing, and this nice young man who thought his girlfriend was worth waiting for until he could marry her “right”.
(Yes yes, this wedding photo is dreamy)
In justice to Gauri’s family, I should say that they don’t sound totally “filmi” in the irrational way Amrish is here. They had love marriages before. And they did eventually come around. But really, if your 21 year old daughter came to you and said “I’m in love with this 25 year old guy who has no job and no prospects and no family and has been dating me behind your back for 7 years because he is too cowardly to talk to you. And also, he has a totally different religious/cultural background than us”, anyone would be hesitant.
One final thing, I don’t think it is like “oooo, a magical coincidence!” that Shahrukh ended up in this film that is similar to his real story. I think it is more “oooo, lots and lots and lots of film people have love marriages and this is what a love marriage looks like most of the time!” I mean, just look at the alternative hero options. Aamir Khan, love marriage, eloped with his girlfriend, both families eventually came around. Anil Kapoor, love marriage, won over his in laws and was married with their blessing. Akshay Kumar, wasn’t married yet but eventually would have a love marriage after winning over his wife’s family. The “filmi” part of the story is the deadline of the Kuljit marriage. But remove that, and we are looking at a really common story, this is how love marriages happen, you bring the boy in slowly to win over the family a little before you reveal the truth. And then you just wait for it all to play out and find out if you will have to elope or if they will give in.
(this is another one of those “Hey! An Anonymous Nice Person gave me money! How can I think him/her?” posts. I was going to skip DDLJ again this week since JHMS is taking up a lot of time, but then a new Anonymous Nice Person, not the same one as yesterday who got you the “Radha” post, sent me money in response to my money post, so I wanted to give them something nice. So send nice thoughts towards Anonymous Nice Person, they arranged this pleasant treat for you)