Dilwale! Shahrukh’s Last Big Silly Romance

This was I think the first movie I reviewed.  Oh the nostalgia!  Anyway, I wrote 3 reviews, this post is going to combine them all into one.

So, I saw Dilwale last night, and I will have many many thoughts, slowly unspinning from my head, over the next few days.  Rather than try to limit them all to one perfect post, I’m going to just go ahead and post as things slowly rise to the top of my consciousness.

The first thing that strikes me is that this movie is meant to be watched in a theater filled with rowdy and licentious SRK fans.  Not the ones who appreciate him for his acting abilities and keen business savvy, the other ones.  For instance, one of my friends was wearing this subtle, respectful, and tasteful piece of jewelry.

(purchased on etsy from the shop FreshAndRussianStyle)

So, I saw it with 5 passionate Shahrukh-ites, one patient romantic partner of a Shahrukh-ite, and one Aamir fan who we almost threw out of the car on the way there but eventually allowed to stay.  And so far as I can tell, that was pretty representative of the crowd as a whole, 5/7s passionate low-minded fans, 2/7s people who were terrified of us and trying not to be noticed.

Every wet shirt/shirtless scene was greeted with hoots and catcalls.  Every fight scene was talked over (unless it involved shirtlessness), while the romantic love songs were treated with the seriousness they deserved.  And every time Kajol and Shahrukh’s eyes met and the music swelled, the cell phones came out and a dozen new homescreen images were created (for example, see the image above this post).  And if you are able to find cell phone footage of romantic scenes on youtube tomorrow, there is a good chance it is thanks the good people of theater 2 at the Old Orchard mall!

(I know this link will probably stop working within hours, I’ll try to keep tracking down new ones as soon as they are available.  Also, slashfic friendly much?)

So, the first time I watched it, in the theater, the first half young love story for SRKajol felt really sort of overly dramatic and emotional, but shallow at the same time. And the second half love story felt not dramatic and emotional enough, they’d been through so much, and now they were just sort of annoyed with each other. And I thought “what an uneven movie! This is a huge flaw!”

But then I watched it again, in my head while trying to go to sleep last night, and I think I see what they were going for. Partly, this is because I am starting with the basic assumption that they actually were going for something, it wasn’t just that the movie was slapped together in 6 months and they didn’t really think it through. I mean, it is a Shahrukh and Kajol film, they had to know the relationship between their characters would be scrutinized with a fine-tooth comb, if there was anything they were careful with, it would be that.

So, I think what they were going for is, the young love story is all a memories, and this is how they remember their youth. In a series of moments of high drama and emotion, without taking a moment to think or talk or figure out that there might be predictable problems when you fall in love with your nemesis’ child.

More than that, this is how you remember yourself when you were young, as perfect and powerful and almost superhuman. And the person you loved was the most beautiful, clever, talented, and powerful person in the world.


But when you are old (well, older. I’m still young enough that in the second half they are oooooooooooold to me, but I realize that for some people they are in the prime of life), it all seems a little slower and calmer and deeper. You don’t fall in love at first sight and passionately embracing in the rain, you meet in the rain and are polite and look at each other and think about each other, and then maybe a few weeks later you have a nice conversation at a wedding.


So really what the film is saying is “yes, this first half love story is ridiculous and unbelievable and over the top, and the second half is much sweeter and truer, and deeper, but that’s because young love is stupid and unrealistic, and old love is deeper and realer.”

So, having now seen it twice, in theaters, I think I figured out how it was put together. So, back in like June, Shahrukh announces he and Kajol are going to be releasing a movie with Rohit Shetty at Christmas. And then poor Rohit Shetty had to actually figure out a way to write a script, film a movie, promote it, edit it, and release it in 6 months.

He could take the schedules Kajol and Shahrukh could give, enough to film maybe a 90 minute movie, and make a really really short, but also really pretty good film.

Or he could have said “No! I can’t make a movie in 5 months, that’s INSANE!!!! I’m changing the release schedule, bumping it to next year, and making a good 2 hour plus film with a full plot!”

But instead, he chose the 3rd option, saying “well, I’ll make that 90 minute love story film, and then over here, I’ll make another 90 minute film with a bunch of comedians who basically just show up and riff off each other in funky costumes. And then I will take a week before the scheduled release and real quick just violently shove them together!”

So, I’m still going to highly recommend Dilwale (if nothing else, a vote for Dilwale is a vote for free speech!), but I want to clarify that I am recommending it for the 90 minute action-love story movie buried within it, not that other movie that is weirdly slapped on top.

7 thoughts on “Dilwale! Shahrukh’s Last Big Silly Romance

  1. I just rewatched it for – uh – maybe the sixth or seventh time. (And that doesn’t count the zillions of times I have watched Janam Janam before I go to sleep, or the countless times I have listened to the soundtrack.). I get lots more of the references to SRK and Kajol’s earlier films than I did when I first saw it (my first SRK in a theater!!) but it still annoys me that they are there. Especially the DDLJ line at the very end, which MAKES NO SENSE IN CONTEXT. For some reason, it is right up there with the Dallas everything-was-a-dream thing back in the 80s.

    I do like your explanation for the strangeness of it all. I forgive Rohit Shetty. And it is a very entertaining movie, with peak SRK hotness.


    • I hadn’t even thought about the weirdness of the Kajol-SRK intertextual references. You’re right, it’s super weird! He did something similar in Chennai Express, but besides that one cheeky DDLJ reference at the beginning, it was all in the context of stuff like Antakshari, where it made sense for the characters.

      On Mon, Dec 17, 2018 at 10:51 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  2. Totally agree on the ending. I was with them until that last line, it’s just odd.

    I also like watching bits and pieces of this movie. The car chases are good. The Fast and Furious scene with Kajol and the cliff is beautiful action car dancing. I skip most of the young SRK-Kajol part except for the action bits, those are entertaining and a better match for the intensity of the later years SRK-Kajol. I like the Raj/Kaali dichotomy. The Kaali fight scenes have a few too many flying moves but they’re fun to watch. I like most of the SRK-Varun brother dynamic, except when Varun is too much of a spoiled brat at the beginning. I like Kriti fine by herself, and with Kajol, but I get bored with the Kriti-Varun romance and all the comic side plots about King’s car and getting SRK and Kajol back together. So much clowning, and then it cuts to the two of them and everything snaps into focus. All of which is to say, yes, exactly, the action love story surrounded by all the fluff is the movie I end up re-watching by skipping the very long sections of broad comedy and the young love plot.


        • I think they reference it a couple times, jokingly call Shahrukh a “Dilwale” kind of guy, but I think mostly it is just a DDLJ reference. Although it’s also a decent title for the film, as good as most film titles. Easy to say and remember, gives you a sense for what it will be about, etc.

          On Tue, Dec 18, 2018 at 12:12 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



    • I just rewatched Chennai Express in preparation for re-reviewing it, and it confirmed my memory, that move chugs along like a freight train. A lot of stuff happens, but it is all stuff I care about. And either Shahrukh or Dips or both are on screen for the entire 2 and a half hours. Completely different from Dilwale, much better prepared and produced and written and all the rest. This film has some great bits, but as a whole is just a mess.

      On Mon, Dec 17, 2018 at 11:31 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



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