Welcome back to DDLJ! Our lovers are still separated, but we do get some really cute Shahrukh faces in this bit. And I am sticking with my theory that these paired sequences represent the male and female reaction to “love triumphant”. Kajol was shy and eager to share her happiness with another woman and be a bit dreamy, but also a bit afraid to trust it. Shahrukh is so proud of himself he is about to burst his buttons. (full index of DDLJ coverage here)
It’s not that I think they actual had sex or anything like that. But the interaction on the terrace, their first interaction alone, it ended with Kajol voluntarily kissing him. Which makes her feel happy and scared and excited and afraid of what she has left herself vulnerable to and so on and so on. As though they had had sex, but they hadn’t, it’s just that a kiss on a cheek is that meaningful for her to give, and therefore for him to receive.
I think we can assume that Shahrukh is a sexually experienced guy, right? Not like super experienced, but somewhere between 1 and 3 women in his past. And yet because it is Kajol, this is different. He wants her to love him, not just sleep with him. And he knows that for a girl like Kajol, a kiss on the cheek is as much of a thing as going all the way would be for a different girl. So he has that pride of having been so incredibly irresistible that she broke her own boundaries, that little “I am just the coolest thing that ever walked the earth because the greatest girl in the world has thrown out her principles over me.”
And that’s how he plays this scene. It’s the same cheerful helpfulness that he showed in all the other scenes. But a little sped up, a little hyper, a little “can’t stop smiling”. Even with Grandma, he isn’t paying attention to her exactly, not that he is being rude, he is just being a little too fast and young, instead of slowing down and focusing on her. He’s distracted, too happy to think about anyone else just now.
And then he goes off, bouncing the almonds on the tray in a super cute way that I really stood out. One of those little moments that Shahrukh the actor added on to the role, I am sure the stage direction was just “Shahrukh takes almonds and walks across set”. But he added on the little toss in the air, that gives you a feel of a young guy that just can’t keep still, he has to keep dancing around to show off his happiness.
Until he is suddenly stopped by Himani. And again, he isn’t quite as focused on other people as he was before, the big stop when she faces him, the huge reaction. Instead of the calm charming guy he was the last time they were together.
He does drop into it in a second, the teasing little accent when he speaks with her, and the over-accentuated gestures. Again, it’s not that he is being rude, he just feels a little too much in his own happiness right now, his head is too full of love and pride and all of that to make room for charming other people. But when Himani keeps talking to him, then he is able to slow down a bit and focus on her.
But even so, look at this little smile! That can’t help but sneak out behind his pretend seriousness. He just can’t keep himself from smiling, because he is too happy. If he stops thinking about it, the smile will slip through.
And then he is off again. There are a lot of transitions in this sequence. When he was moving through the party that first night, he was bumping into people every few feet. And the day before, they cut the long boring bits when he walked from the kitchen to window of Himani’s room, window to courtyard, courtyard to finding Kajol.
There’s a couple of different effects here. First, most importantly, we get to spend time alone with Shahrukh. To get inside his head, which has one refrain in it, “Le Jayenge Le Jayenge Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge”. He is confident of his success, and proud of his big heart and his beautiful bride that he is sure of taking away with him.
But it also shows his different relationship to this space and these people. That first night, he was one of a large crowd. Kept in the public spaces with the public people, no opportunity to be alone. He managed to make his mark, but it was a challenge. The next day, he was too alone. He managed to sneak his way into the house, but then no one wanted to talk to him once he was there. He had to force his way into a conversation in the kitchen, gain Himani’s attention, make a good showing in the Antakshari game.
But now, now he is truly one of the family. Moving freely through the space, stopped by everyone in turn as they all want to speak to him, but also trust him enough to let him just keep moving on his own, doing his own thing.
Everyone except Kuljit! Because Kuljit is the worst. He can’t let Shahrukh just keep singing to himself and playing with a bag of almonds, he has to stop him and control him and redirect him. Well, try to. Once again, Kuljit is all violence and grabbing and trying to physically dominate. And Shahrukh is all casual and easily avoiding the physical dominance by using his mental dominance.
But even Kuljit can see how different Shahrukh is at this event versus the last one. He doesn’t feel like a guest any more, he feels like one of the family.
Some background, it seems to be a social consistant that at a wedding there is a firm line between the “bride’s side” and “groom’s side”. At “white people” weddings, the ushers ask “bride or groom” when they are seating people, because the church is divided in half with the groom’s people on the righthand side and the bride’s people on the lefthand side.
But in the rural Punjab, this division is even more fraught. The bride’s side is responsible for putting on a good show, “selling” themselves and their girl as worthy of marrying into the groom’s family. And if anything goes wrong, it is their fault. If the bride runs away, it is there fault. If the groom runs away, it is their fault (she must not have been good enough for him to want). The bride-groom division, that can quickly turn violent. And you certainly would not change sides, ever.
I don’t think this situation is exactly like that. Which is all credit to Amrish Puri. He wanted to marry his daughter into a “safe” family. Satish Shah, he loves Amrish, and he is happy to have Kajol marry into his family, she will be in no danger from her in-laws. And this wedding will not fall apart and descend into violence at the last minute. And she doesn’t even need to bring a dowry with her, they want her to be married to Kuljit just for herself. And she will be living in a house next to her family, in a place she knows, with plenty of loving support and financial support available in her new home. Sure, her husband is a donkey’s behind, but that is just one small part of marriage considerations. Amrish was smart, and loving, in setting up this situation for his daughter.
But it’s still a wedding. Even with no formal dowry, the Amrish Puri side is expected to put on a good show, to take the responsibility for it all going well, maintaining status in the community, etc. etc. Why would Shahrukh want to join that side instead of staying of the “good” side where he started?
Shahrukh’s argument is fascinating. He argues that someday in everyone’s life, they will be in the bride’s side, so he might as well practice. In some ways it’s kind of a philosophical statement, why not take the lessor side as practice for the inevitable time when he will have to be on that side. But it’s also a comment about how someday he will be part of Kajol’s family, he is fighting alongside them now because he wants to be part of them.
An interesting statement for a groom to make. Usually it is supposed to be that post-wedding the bride becomes part of the groom’s family, but Shahrukh is flipping it on it’s head, he is part of the bride’s family before the wedding. He isn’t fighting against them to try to make them “earn” the marriage, he is fighting with them, trying to help them pull this marriage off.
And then another classic “hating on Kuljit” moment. You know what makes an enjoyable villain? One that you can hate purely, without either fear or pity. Just hate. Kuljit in this, Rajkummar Rao in Queen, Aditya Pancholi in Yes Boss/Real Life, you don’t want to see them killed like Gabbar, or hope for their redemption like Darr-Shahrukh, you want to see them lying in a pile of manure with everyone they know pointing and laughing, you know? It gives that extra zest of happiness every Shahrukh mumbles curses and makes his disgusted face.
And then we get a different kind of Shahrukh look. The “struck dumb by beauty and love” look. With women in the background behind him. Shahrukh isn’t supposed to be here, he is seeing a special secret female moment, the time when Kajol comes down the stairs to join the rest of the party, but is revealed to the women first before being brought out for the men to see. And Shahrukh has stumbled on this, like the classic stories of the man who sneaks into the woman’s quarters and sees a woman too beautiful to be resisted.
(Someday I will watch this movie. But not anytime soon, because SAD! And anyway, I am only strong enough to handle one Guru Dutt film every 5 years, and I already watched Kaagaz Ke Phool 2 years ago)
And it is also why we, the audience, can forgive Shahrukh’s cockiness in the rest of this sequence. Sure, he is awfully proud of himself and uncaring about anyone else. But it’s all because he loves Kajol so much and is so pleased that she loves him back. He thinks he is the coolest thing on two legs until she enters the room, and then he suddenly feels like he is just a humble worshipper who is lucky to exist in her presence.
Getting meta for a moment, this is also why we can forgive Shahrukh’s cockiness in real life. He thinks he is the coolest thing on two legs. Until his wife walks into the room. Or Dilip Kumar, or Amitabh Bachchan, or any small child alive. It’s that combination of charming casual confidence, and humility in the face of a few. Makes the confidence more precious, seeing how easily it can be broken, and the humility more valuable.
And all of this just gives me an excuse to share this tweet from a yesterday!