India’s Love Story With a Movie Still on the Big Screen After 27 Years

‘D.D.L.J.,’ which a Mumbai theater has shown nearly every day since 1995, encapsulates a society in churn, with the choices afforded by economic opportunity clashing with tradition.

By Mujib Mashal and Suhasini Raj

Photographs by Atul Loke

Mujib Mashal and Suhasini Raj spent time at the Maratha Mandir cinema over two trips to Mumbai reporting this story. Atul Loke is a native of Mumbai.

  • Jan. 19, 2023

“Well past the film’s intermission, the crowd keeps trickling in. Some pay at the ticketing window with a couple of taps on their phone; others dump fistfuls of coins. They are students and office clerks, prostitutes from the waning red-light district nearby, day laborers still chasing dreams in India’s “maximum city,” and the homeless with dreams long deferred.

India’s film industry puts about 1,500 stories on the screen annually. But the audience that files every morning into the Maratha Mandir cinema in Mumbai is here for a movie that premiered 27 years ago — and has resonated so intensely that this once-grand 1,100-seat theater has played it every day since, save for a pandemic hiatus.

The film, “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge” — which translates as “The Big-Hearted Will Take the Bride” and is known as “D.D.L.J.” — is a boy-meets-girl story set against the backdrop of a moment of immense change and unbridled possibility in India.

The Indian economy had just opened up, bringing new opportunities, new technologies and new exposure to a rising middle class. But it has also brought new strains, as the choices afforded by economic opportunity — to decide your own love and your own life — ran up against the protective traditions of old.”

David Lindsay Jr.

David Lindsay Jr.

NYT Comment:

What an amazing story, filled with stories. Thanks to Mujib Mashal and Suhasini Raj, and the photographer Atul Loke. I will have to put “The Big-Hearted Will Take the Bride,” on my list to see. David blogs at