Twenty years after the release of one of the biggest hits in Indian cinema history, Bollywood superstars Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol are back again in a love story, Dilwale, that is already drawing comparisons with historic romantic blockbuster Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, or DDLJ, even though Dilwale won’t be released until Dec. 18.
But at a marathon video press conference held yesterday in Mumbai, Khan repeatedly distinguished the new Dilwale from its predecessor, which won 10 Filmfare Awards and was the highest grossing Bollywood film of the year— and was still being shown at Mumbai’s landmark Maratha Mandir movie theater up through this year. And while both films feature love, romance, comedy, action, melodrama, thrills, songs and dance, Khan stressed that in no way should it be seen as a sequel.
“If you’ve done it once, don’t keep doing it again!” said Khan, in Mumbai with most of the creative team and talent from Dilwale. All were connected via teleconference with media in Dubai, Berlin, London, Toronto and New York, in observance of the launch of the Dilwale trailer.
“I want to make clear in Arabic, Hindi and English—it is not a sequel!” Khan stated in each language. “It’s not, not, not, not, not! I would not tolerate anyone misinterpreting that!”
He continued, noting that he did not want any association with “the other ‘D’ film.”
“This is an original film,” he said, suggesting that to avoid comparison, perhaps they should change the name and start it with the letter “K,” i.e., Kilwale.
Khan was in typically funny form, and got a lot of laughs throughout the presser. Acknowledging that Dilwale is “a dramatic, romantic, comic and entertaining film,” he eschewed further description other than “not being able to define it.”
Also starring Varun Dhawan, Kriti Sanon, Varun Sharma, Johnny Lever, Vinod Khanna, Boman Irani and Kabir Bedi, Dilwale is directed by Rohit Shetty, who directed Khan in the smash 2013 Bollywood romantic action comedy hit Chennai Express. He said that he told Khan after the release of Chennai Express that he wanted him to star in Dilwale, and that Khan suggested Kajol.
“The rest is history,” said Shetty, noting the intense hunger for another Khan-Kajol starrer after so many years. Asked about the chemistry between them, Khan said, “We were never taken in by the myth of Shah Rukh and Kajol as the greatest romantic couple. We’re just best of friends and enjoy ourselves, and never analyze or figure out what works for us. If you don’t know what works and it’s not broke, don’t fix it! We’re happy to be together, whatever we do.”
Khan further observed that he and Kajol had essentially “grown up together” over the last 20 years, making working together easy. As for acting styles, he said that while he’s “technically driven” and likes “to get things right,” Kajol is “very natural, honest and truthful [and] comes from the heart” in her approach.
“It’s always good to work with actors who better your work, and Kajol is one of them,” he said, noting that in this regard, a year spent working with her was like five years with anyone else.
Likewise, Kajol said that every time she works with Khan, “he teaches me 120 things that I take back with me.” And as for Kajol in Dilwale, Khan noted, “the most beautiful eyes in the world—we have them!”
Highly regarded newcomer Sanon, in only her second Bollywood film, wouldn’t compare her onscreen chemistry with Dhawan to that of the superstar screen couple.
“They’re magical, and we can’t get half of it,” she said.
Khan lauded director Shetty for giving the “plethora of amazing talent a lot of liberty” as actors, while Shetty said that “when you have Shah Ruk Khan and Kajol and great actors, it’s easy.” He said that the Dilwale trailer, now viewed over 2.6 million times on YouTube in less than a day, shows the “infectious” sense of excitement experienced during the filming.
Responding to a question from Berlin regarding Bollywood’s popularity in Germany, Khan said, “I think it’s the stories we tell [and] their huge emotional content.” He said that the whole Indian film industry (“not just Mumbai”) was “full of emotion and color, and from the heart [and] it touches everyone in the world.”
Composer Pritam picked up on the comment and said that his soundtrack, like the movie, has such “colors” in it as well. “I’m blessed to score for the most romantic pair of our era,” he said.
Sequel questions aside, the Dilwale principals were asked if it could match the record-setting duration of DDLJ.
“It’s very difficult to repeat that phenomenon,” said Kajol, “but I hope we come somewhere close to it.”
Subscribe to my atombash.com pages and jimbessman.com website and follow me on Twitter @JimBessman!