How do you explain the long-running success of DDLJ?
There are some phenomena that defy explanation. How do you explain Lataji's voice? How do you explain the fact that at 75, she sang like an angel in my "Veer-Zaara"? "Dilwale..." is another miracle. Bhagwan ki kripa hai. I don't deserve the success I've got. Yes, "Dilwale..." has broken all records to become the most successful Indian film ever. In another few weeks it'll be completing 10 years.
How do you explain that?
When it completed 200 weeks, I thought we had our innings. But DDLJ kept growing. Now, after 500 weeks the general manager of Maratha Mandir tells me it can easily go on for six more months. It still goes houseful during weekends!
Aditya was only 23 when he made DDLJ. I still remember the first time when he narrated the story to me. I had tears in my eyes for two reasons. Firstly, it was because my son had written it. And secondly, because it was such a heart-warming story!
I knew it was going to be a hit film. But to this extent? Never! It touched a chord in Indians all over the world. It prompted them to go back to their country, traditions and roots. DDLJ was the first romance where the boy takes the girl away only with the parents' consent. The whole process of winning over the girl's family was unique.
How do you rationalize its continuing success after so many years?
Log pagal nahin hain jo roz DDLJ dekhne jaate hain. Adi (Aditya) ne dil se banayee yeh picture. (People are not crazy that they see the film every day. Aditya has made the film from his heart.) I feel the films being made today have no heart. Most of them are superficial in content. I was amazed by the depth and emotions in (Sanjay Leela Bhansali's) "Black". To my pride, Yashraj Films has the privilege of distributing this unique film overseas. Hats off to Sanjay for his conviction, courage and confidence. He never thought of what money it would make. He did what came naturally to him. "Black" is a rarity today.
Did you have an inkling of DDLJ's success?
The first time I really realized the film's potential was when we took the print to Prasad Lab in Chennai to record the Dolby sound. The technicians there asked me to dub it in Telugu. I did so. It was super hit in Telugu. Never in my life have I seen such reactions to any film. It became a landmark thanks to my son's honest and sincere effort.
It's also become a liability for Aditya.
Yes, it has become a benchmark for him. He can't make DDLJ again, though I'm sure he'll always make good films. But success cannot be guaranteed... Would you believe Shah Rukh was at first hesitant to do DDLJ?
Are you serious?
Yes, he didn't want to do more mushy romance. Adi convinced him. He predicted that every viewer from the age of six to 80 would love him after DDLJ. Sure enough, his fan following multiplied manifold. Every member of the cast was perfect. I remember (the late lyricist) Anand Bakshi saying: "Even if Adi puts half of his ideas on screen he'll make a historic hit."
What further plans for DDLJ?
Next month we'll release DDLJ in selected multiplexes - there were no multiplex theatres when it had opened. We're also doing a double DVD with unreleased visuals and scenes, behind-the-scenes footage, the premiere, etc. All this isn't being done for business purposes. I just want a whole new generation to "Come...Fall In Love...Again!!' ha ha!
I remember after the release you told me you had never seen so much money in your life.
It's true. DDLJ has done many things for me. It has helped us to realize so many of our dreams. When I came to realize that distributors aren't quite upfront in their dealings, I decided to become my own distributor. For the first time, we saw big money. I asked my son what he wanted. He said he wanted that we should have our own studio. Today, we're ready to open our own state-of-the-art studio, thanks to DDLJ.
What do you think of films like "Kya Kool Hain Hum" becoming successful?
I haven't seen this film. But I've heard about it. It's very scary. To me, the criterion for a successful film is that the makers should be able to sit through it with their family without feeling ashamed of it. If films of this nature do well, what will we make? The best thing is to go by one's sensibility. We'll continue to do our best.