Can you imagine Shah Rukh Khan's Raj from Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ, 1995) as "Rog", a.k.a Roger Mandel? Director Aditya Chopra can. Last year, Chopra announced his iconic film DDLJ would be adapted into a musical that he will also direct. After the casting was announced recently, it came to be known that Raj is now Rog and will be played by American actor Austin Colby. The role of Simran, originally played by Kajol, will be done by Indian-American actress Shoba Narayan.
The reaction to this casting on Twitter has ranged from disappointed to angry, with many criticising the decision to 'whitewash' DDLJ by changing the hero's ethnicity.
Indian chef Vikas Khanna tweeted, "I got super excited when I [told] my friends informed [them] that DDLJ (my fav film) was coming on Broadway. We decided to fly, Then I read that ICONIC Raj is played by Austin Colby as Rog Mandel. I might never see THIS."
"This is beyond HORRIFYING," one tweet read. "So broadway is adapting the iconic Bollywood movie, DDLJ into a musical and guess who they cast to play Raj… YES A WHITE MAN."
The musical is scheduled to debut on Broadway in New York City for the 2022-2023 season.
Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge is considered an all-time classic of Hindi commercial cinema. Not only did it have a record run of 1,274 weeks in theatres, the characters of Raj and Simran, as played by Khan and Kajol, have become romantic icons for generations of Bollywood fans. Most recently, DDLJ was name-dropped on the series Miss Marvel, which features the first South Asian superhero in the Marvel cinematic universe.