Another fun part! Really, all the fun parts are when Shahrukh and Kajol are actually interacting. Partly because their chemistry is great, partly because it feels like the plot is moving somewhere when they are in the same frame (full index of DDLJ coverage here)
I ended the last section with a discussion of the “game” Kajol and Shahrukh are playing. She keeps moving around, and he keeps following her. Right now, it looks like she is in control again, but Shahrukh has finally figured out a way to one up her. Yes, he will stand when she stands and follow her in a moment. But first he is going to sing a song directed at her and get her to stop and smile at him.
It’s also of course the title of the movie. Suggested by Kirron Kher, as the credits say. Possibly the only time a credit has been given like that, because it is such an odd credit to have! Anyway, it is nice that Adi gave her credit just for the idea of the title. And makes me feel slightly more on his side in the whole “Did he fail to give credit to Honey Irani for her contributions to the script?” debate.
What I really love about this is that Shahrukh isn’t just singing the song, he is getting everyone else to clap and dance along with him! Which has two meanings. First, that this is what he is doing in the plot, getting her whole family to support him in his elopement. Her grandmother and her little sister and even poor Mandira Bedi will eventually be supporting him.
Of course, not yet. So getting them to sing and dance with him is a bit of a feat, and a bit of a gamble. And that risk and accomplishment is what Shahrukh is looking to Kajol to acknowledge. It’s a new version of the “Ruk Ja O Dil Deewana” song moment, or when he sprayed water from a flower on her. He is doing a clever joke which is only enjoyable because she is their to react to it. Only in this case, it is now a joke that they are both sharing. Another moment of “I am here only for you/you are my strength”. He is enjoying this game of passing a secret message and getting her family to dance to his tune as a tribute to her.
And Kajol knows it. Unlike before, she is now tolerating his dancing around and jokes and tricks as something he just does, and giving him the appropriate amount of approval in response. She isn’t a totally different character than she was at the start of the movie, she will never have the craziness or lightheartedness that Shahrukh does. She will always be the stubborn sensible slow moving one. But, of course, that is what makes them such a great couple! Both as a “fictional people I want to hang out with” way, and in terms of why their writing is so great. This is not two similar people finding their perfect match, this is two dissimilar people finding their complementary person. Much harder to write in a believable fashion. But that much stronger when you manage it.
And then there’s the other meaning to Shahrukh singing and dancing it out here. It isn’t just that he is “tricking” these people, or foreshadowing how they will be on his side. No, he has the support of a young girl, a young woman besides Kajol, and an elderly woman in his chant. They all want the lover to take the bride away, they all want love marriages and freedom and that is what they are singing for. And yes, it is also an old film song, but that’s kind of the point! This is why the films are popular, this is why it was a hit song, because it gives the fantasy of this kind of love, and freedom.
And then the fun bit! Which is also one of the realest moments of sexual desire between characters, like, ever. Partly because it is so messy. It’s not a magical moment with violins and flowers and all that. It’s in the middle of a house, with the same everyday clothes they have been wearing this whole time, and Kajol is even carrying around dirty laundry when he grabs her.
It’s the “grabbing” that is so great. I wish I could capture it in still photos, but this whole time Kajol is squirming back and forth and Shahrukh is trying to catch her and hold her still. But it’s not molesty, or aggressive. It’s just sort of hormonal. He has been wanting to grab her, to touch her, for the past who-knows-how-long. And she, we will see in a bit, feels the same way. She is just in her own house, is the problem. This isn’t the mustard field where they were both in strange territory, feeling free and open. This is her house, surrounded by her family, where she has her responsibilities and will be missed or called for or given a new duty at any moment. Shahrukh can stride through it, room to room, forcing his way into the kitchen, the bedroom, the courtyard, and then leaving once he gets bored. He may be a new age kind of hero, not the Lochinvar/Mirzya type who sweeps her off without concern for her family, but there is still a basic level where they are not HIS family, this is not HIS house, and he is not their daughter. And so he can be overcome more easily by his desires
Notice Kajol’s reaction is not “no, Horror! Shock! Shaadi Ki Baat!” Instead it is “you are crazy, this is not the time or place”. The mere idea of him asking for a kiss is fine, she just doesn’t think it is safe right now. Oh, and she also isn’t trying to hurt him or punish him for asking. She is squirming to free herself, but not to hurt him. He is holding her back so she will wait long enough for him to convince her, not to take anything by force. Heck, he’s ASKING!!! It’s perfect “consent” behavior. With a little bit of grabbing, but he is still asking.
But see, she wants it too. And Shahrukh know that. NOT in a molesty “oh, she says no but she means yes” kind of way. But because she is nervous about being caught, and distracted by thinking of their location and all of that. He just has to get her to focus and forget where they are, and she will be as intoxicated as he is. Every time her head turns back, their eyes meet and their heads tilt, it’s what they both want.
And they fit together so well! This whole section has been a slow foreplay for them, beginning with the Antakshari game. They exchanged glances, the “danced” next to each other, and finally touched hands. He followed her, and now they are naturally falling into place. Look at how his arm fits just so underneath her arm, how their heads line up, how it feels as if there weren’t that pink thing that Kajol was carrying between them, their whole bodies would naturally sink together.
That’s the brilliance of the pink thing, it’s a triple boundary between them. An actual physical boundary, keeping their bodies from meeting. A reminder that Kajol was rushing to and fro carrying something, she will be missed. And finally, visually, a little break between the blue of Shahrukh and yellow Kajol, making the viewer have a slightly heightened awareness of the space between them. And letting the actors have a seemingly intimate moment without needing to actually be more physically close than they may have been comfortable with as people (remember, Kajol is barely 18 here and Shahrukh is a married 30 year old. This may not be the kind of thing either of them are comfortable with).
Shahrukh has managed to pull Kajol over to hide with him, but her mind is still moving. He moves his hands higher, he no longer is worried about keeping her body in place, he has won that over, but now his hands start moving up to her neck and face, to catch her focus there.
At this point, they are actually farther apart physically than before. Shahrukh is no longer braced to semi-trap her against the wall, his body spread slightly over her. Now, they are face to face with a good 6 inches between them. And yet, Shahrukh has her more trapped than before. Her hands have softened, her eyes can no longer leave his. His hands have softened as well, he is cradling her neck.
It’s awkward blocking, but necessary. His hands have to still be on her for us to feel the love, but they can’t be in the more natural place, her face, as that would block her expression from us. And so they land on the neck, a very strange place, but the way the are so light and gentle, with the thumb just barely grazing her ear, it makes it work.
Of course the dialogue here is a bit on the nose. Shahrukh doesn’t care about Kajol’s mother catching them, because he has already won over her mother. Although it also adds a retroactive tension to the sweetness of that previous scene. Yes, he was being a charming perfect young man to win over her mother. But at some level, it was also so he could grab her and kiss her later. Another part of the foreplay.
They start to sink down as they are talking now. There’s no actual reason for it, if the point is to kiss, they could kiss perfectly well standing up. Better actually, their bodies are going farther and farther apart as they sink down, not closer. There is something going on her that is more than normal physical desire. They are sinking into each other, their knees are literally giving out, and there is an urge to return to the earth, to sink down. That’s how they came together in the mustard field, not standing and triumphant, but sinking down into the earth together. This isn’t Shahrukh dominating, as it would have been if they remained standing, this is the two of them equally overcome. And notice, at this point, Kajol has gone from gently putting her hand on his arm to try to free herself, to grasping at the shirt on his chest to balance herself and stay close.
And now they repeat, this time with the protest that “Aunt” will find us. And again, it retroactively makes Shahrukh’s interactions with the aunt into another part of the foreplay. But there is also more to it, to both these mentions, Kajol’s mother and her aunt. Yes, it was foreplay to some degree, he was winning over these older women so that he would have a chance at the young woman. But it’s also a bit of his fearlessness, his chances. He loves her enough to test his abilities against her family, and now he is willing to gamble that he has won, that he can take his reward. And Kajol is willing to give him that reward, to trust that he has won, that they can both make this leap of faith.
And she gives in with a word. Just his name, “Raj”. Not a protest, but an acknowledgement. The only thing left in her head, on her tongue, in her life, is his name.
This is a lovely shot. Mostly. Her eyes are sightly closing, her mouth is softening, they are both bending closer to each other. But I can’t help but notice the slight strain on her neck, and the way his hands are beginning to force her up slightly. Must have been terribly uncomfortable posture, squatting, and needing to stay upright enough for the end of the shot.
On the more sentimental side of things, it’s careful framing to show how much in his power she is. His hands are dominating her face, his head is tilted towards the camera making it look even larger than hers than it would be normally, his shoulders are slightly widened and higher than hers. It’s not that he has “captured” her exactly, it feels more like a reminder that as a man, he is naturally more powerful than her. He can grab her and seduce her, and she cannot stop him. She has to trust his judgement to protect them both.
And then Amrish Puri interrupts. Always a terrible moment. Every time I watch, I get sucked in and think they really will kiss. And then they don’t. And I am just as shocked as Kajol and Shahrukh.
And to me, it feels like the interruption isn’t that she is afraid or Shahrukh’s spell is broken or anything like that. Now, it is bringing her back to her other identity. The good daughter who is pulling against Kajol-the-woman-with-desires. And Amrish is the force that is trying to keep her there the most. The thing that is dragging her back to her other life, against her will, just when Shahrukh has helped her to almost break free.
Not that his disappointment here is some abstract “curses, a woman pulled back to out dated gender roles, I am angry as a feminist!” No, this is straight up twenty-something guy who really wanted a kiss. Which is why we love him. Shahrukh isn’t a perfect hero, he is human, his shirts are untucked and his hair is messy and he has desires like a living breathing person. But his desires are fun and funny and controlled, not scary. He wants to kiss his girlfriend. That’s all, just kiss her. And just his girlfriend, not any random women. And he is disappointed, but not angry, either at Kajol or the situation she is in. He accommodates, he adapts, he smiles and laughs it off.
That’s really what is so wonderful about this character. He never gets “scary” angry. He gets mad, he gets mad a lot on the Europe trip, but he never tries to dominate or scare Kajol with his anger. Or scare anyone else for that matter. He is the anti-Amrish Puri. Amrish yells and demands obedience. We just saw that here, he gives one shout and expects Kajol to come running (and she does). While Shahrukh, he doesn’t “expect” anything. He woos and begs and courts and desires and wishes, and then is terribly grateful when it happens, and mildly disappointed when it doesn’t.
Oh, and not related to anything else, but one of my all time favorite fanvids uses Kajol in this yellow dress and I’ve been thinking about it this whole time and now I am just going to slip it in for us.