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Aditya Chopra takes Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge to Broadway

The longest-running Hindi film, starring Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol, will be retooled as a stage musical titled Come Fall In Love – The DDLJ Musical for the 2022-23 season.

Sonal Pandya

Aditya Chopra is taking his beloved directorial debut Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995) to Broadway. The longest-running Hindi film, which is still playing at Maratha Mandir, will be retooled as a stage musical titled Come Fall In Love – The DDLJ Musical for the 2022-23 season.

The film, which was released on 20 October 1995, stars Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol as Raj and Simran, who meet during a trip to Europe and fall in love. However, Simran’s marriage has already been arranged and Raj must win over her family, especially her father Chaudhary Baldev Singh (Amrish Puri).

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Yash Raj Films, the banner founded by Aditya’s filmmaker father Yash Chopra, made the announcement earlier today. Aditya included a long statement explaining his decision to adapt his first film into a stage musical.

Aditya spoke about his first experience watching a musical in London at age 14. "The lights dimmed, the curtains lifted and what unfolded in the next three hours left me speechless and stunned," he said. "Now, till then, I was a kid who was an avid movie watcher and what I loved the most was big screen Indian blockbusters. But that day what I saw on stage blew my mind. I couldn’t believe that this kind of spectacle could be created live on stage. But the most significant aspect that resonated with me was how similar musical theatre was to our Indian films.

"It was just not the fact that both use songs to tell the story, it was much more than that, it was the feeling they evoked which was exactly the same. The burst of colours, the heightened drama, the passionate singing, the unabashed dancing, a classic story, a happy end. It filled me with the same joy and emotions that a good Indian film does. I realised then, that worlds apart, languages apart, western musical theatre and Indian films are two long lost lovers separated in time.”

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The filmmaker went on to share a bit of trivia that make come as a surprise to some. "What many don’t know is that I never intended to make DDLJ in Hindi. As a 23-year-old young man greatly influenced by Hollywood and American pop culture, I thought I would make a couple of Indian films and then I would be off to Hollywood and make DDLJ for a worldwide English speaking audience with Tom Cruise as my leading man. That obviously didn’t happen. DDLJ was released in 1995 and became the longest-running film in Indian cinema. It gave me my identity and kickstarted an amazing journey for which I’ll always be grateful.

"Twenty-six years later I’m going back to my original vision of the story of DDLJ, a love story of an American boy and an Indian girl, a love story of two cultures… two worlds,” he added. “But this time the medium is not cinema but theatre. Twenty-six years later I will be directing DDLJ all over again but this time as an English-language Broadway musical for a worldwide audience.

“I’m terribly nervous and incredibly excited. I’m a hardcore cinema guy, I have never done theatre in my life and here I am trying to pull off the craziest ambition of my life. But what is giving me confidence is the fantastic team that I have. Each one of them are masters of their field and their brilliance and expertise is going to make this a fantastic show,” he concluded.

Aditya will also direct the stage version and has assembled a number of award winners for his team. The musical will contain book and lyrics by Laurence Olivier Award-winner Nell Benjamin, known for adapting the stage version of Legally Blonde (2001). Tony and Emmy-winner Rob Ashford will choreograph the songs along with associate choreographer Shruti Merchant. The set design will be done by Emmy and Tony award-winner Derek McLane.

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Interestingly, Aditya has roped in music composers Vishal Dadlani and Shekhar Ravjiani for the musical. The film’s original songs were composed by Jatin-Lalit. Tony, Grammy and Emmy award-winning Bill Sherman, known for the popular musicals In The Heights and Hamilton, will be in charge of music supervision. Adam Zotovich is also part of the project as executive producer.

Come Fall In Love – The DDLJ Musical will have its world premiere at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, California in September 2022 and will debut on Broadway for its 2022-2023 season. Duncan Stewart of Stewart/Whitley casting and Yash Raj Films casting head Shanoo Sharma will begin a global search for the musical’s two leads as well as the rest of the cast.