India

Iconic Bollywood film DDLJ: Cinema bows to fans' outcry

A general view of Maratha Mandir theatre screening Bollywood movie "Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge" (The Big Hearted Will Take the Bride), starring actor Shah Rukh Khan, in Mumbai December 12, 2014 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Maratha Mandir cinema in Mumbai first showed the film in October 1995

A Mumbai cinema has reversed its decision to stop screening an iconic Bollywood movie after a 20-year run following an outcry from fans.

The cinema, Maratha Mandir, will now continue to show the film just days after it stopped showing it, saying it was no longer commercially viable.

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, a romantic drama, was first shown in October 1995.

The cinema said it received hundreds of calls from broken hearted fans within hours of deciding to end the run.

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge translates as "The Brave-Hearted Will Take The Bride" and is popularly known as DDLJ. It follows two Indians living in Britain and the obstacles they face as they fall in love.

Featuring Indian stars Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol, the movie is one of the most popular in Bollywood history.

"After we put up a board outside the theatre last Thursday saying we were taking down the film, we received more than 230 calls in the first two hours from unhappy fans," Maratha Mandir owner Manoj Desai told the BBC.

"We received calls not just from Mumbai but also from Delhi and Ahmedabad. We even got a call from a radio station in Dubai - they said whenever people from there visit Mumbai, they make it a point to watch this film.

"We never expected this kind of response," he added.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Last year the movie set a record for 1,000 continuous weeks of screening

The decision to discontinue the film was taken by Yash Raj Films (YRF), the Bollywood studio that made DDLJ, and Mr Desai says the decision to continue with the screening has also been taken by YRF.

Both Mr Desai and the YRF have refused to reveal the details of what they say is a "mutually agreed deal" to keep the film going, for the foreseeable future at least.

In recent years, the film had not been making any money - the theatre screened the film at 0915 local time and the cost of the ticket was low at 10, 15 or 20 rupees (20-30 US cents) .

"For most people 9:15am was too early so we have revised the show time to 11:30am and ticket prices have also been raised by 5 rupees at all levels," YRF official Vinay Choksi said, adding, "let's see if it improves the collection".

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The film's stars, Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol, are two of the biggest in India
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The actors were relative unknowns when the film was released, but are now household names

The two expats featured in the story fall in love on a trip to mainland Europe, despite the betrothal of the female lead to a man in India.

But eventually they manage to convince their families to allow the union to go ahead.

With its uninterrupted 1,009-week run, DDLJ trounced all other Bollywood records for long-running films.

It is so well known that US President Barack Obama quoted one of its lines during a speech in India last month.

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