Friday, June 26, 2015

RAJ: Aditya Chopra's Love Trilogy

After our DDLJ post, I started to re-watch the only three films directed by Aditya Chopra.

In Bollywood, love is a given. It is the foundation of every blockbuster. Without a love story, the characters have no motivation. No likability. No impact on the audience. And a hero who doesn't love can't save the world. He can't fight 100 thugs without a scratch. He can't survive after taking 5 bullets.

A hero who doesn't know love can't be a hero.
And if you have lived in India in the last two decades, you may have noticed (or will notice post readin this) that the words "hero" and "love" have been moulded into one idea: Raj.

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Aditya Chopra introduced the idea of Raj to the world in 1995 with Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. DDLJ's Raj is the ultimate lover. He will do anything for his love. But he has one condition, one ingredient that makes him Raj: he will always do the right thing. Whether that is to respect the girl's parents' wishes, or saving (read: not killing) the bad guy who is trying to steal his love from him. He is a man every women (presumably) would want. With this Raj, and with DDLJ, Chopra set up the benchmark for love stories.

So, a quick survey about DDLJ (with answers due to the one-way-ness of this discussion) :

1. Is it the greatest love story ever told?

2. Is it possible to make a better complete story (one with the right blend of action, drama, comedy, good music, and romance)?
3. Is it possible for the person who masterminded this film to make an even better love story?

The answers:
1. Yes.
2. No.
3. Yes, but let me explain.

Chopra followed DDLJ with Mohabbatein. And in Mohabbatein he changed the rules of love that were previously broken and changed by him in DDLJ. In Mohabbatein he gave us a Raj that has lost his Simran. In fact, he never really had his Simran. Not in the reality that everyone around him lives in at least. But despite the laws of the world in this fictional story, Raj still found her again. Devoted himself to her. And in the process he became the eternal lover. This Raj will never lose his Simran. He will never give up loving her. He will never lose because his love gives him the strength to do anything - even bring back the dead (figuratively) and change the laws of life itself.

Still, it would be a very depressing story to watch this Raj's story because the actual real events in that story are extremely sad. So Chopra gave him three students. 3 versions of Raj looking for their own Simrans. And with these new love stories Raj could not only keep love alive, but keep the idea of Raj alive.

This Raj will love till he exists, and he will exist till he loves.

That, is how Chopra made a better love story. I can say better because when two people in love stop being people and instead become constant ideas, there is no doubt that this story has the more complete happy ending.

After Mohabbatein, 9 years pass by. But something is still missing. So far, we have a story about a man who will do anything to find his love. And then a story about a man who has loved and lost but not lost his love. But, what about the story of a man who loves without asking for love? What about a man who doesn't define love as the way all the faux-Rajs before him have done in the last 9 years? What about a man who sees God in his love?

Enter Surinder "Suri" Sahni. The man who became Raj just for his love's happiness, and in the process became something much bigger than Raj.

With Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, Chopra dwelled into his most simple yet complex story to date. He took the task to take on the indian "arrange marriage" drama, but of course with a twist. He created a love story in an ordinary jodi, and delivered something extraordinary (paraphrasing the film's tagline). But this story did not come without its own hurdles. In order to create a selfless lover, Chopra had to disintegrate the Raj he defined 14 years ago. But he did that flawlessly too, and with respect. He showed, through Suri, to Taani, that every guy can't be Raj. But Raj can be in every guy.

With these three Raj's, Chopra created the complete lover.  He delivered a man who loves passionately and without fear. A man who loves eternally. And a man who loves selflessly.

A man who is all the above is the Raj we have all witnessed on screen over the past 16 years. Thus completes Raj: Aditya Chopra's Love Trilogy. Three stories. Three perspectives. Three Shahrukhs. One Raj. 


  1. Great post, Lakshya! Interesting how you summed up three different characters into one....but my idea of Raj is the 'DDLJ' Raj. Every woman's fantasy. True. The whole concept of Raj of Mohabbatein appears farce at best.

  2. Interesting parallels you have drawn there, Lakshya. I must confess I have zero love for either DDLJ and Mohabbatein, however, I do like RNBDJ and Suri. I wonder how that could be interpreted in your system here. :)

    It just might be that Suri is the only one who is NOT every woman's fantasy (since clearly my ideal man is far from the "Raj that is every woman's fantasy") and instead he's more a part of the real world where people do the wrong thing sometimes and they sometimes make the wrong choices that conflict even themselves.
    Or it could just be the silly wig and the mooche. :)

    But great read! I enjoyed it.


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