Director Aditya Chopra’s iconic Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ) is a film that evokes strong opinions. It’s been a fan favourite for at least two generations of Bollywood watchers, which is why the news of casting American actor Austin Colby as the male lead has led to some strong reactions on social media.
While there have been complaints about ‘whitewashing’ the lead, Chopra’s original idea behind DDLJ, which he wrote and directed, was a love story between an American man and an Indian woman. Even though Shah Rukh Khan made Raj very much his own after he was cast, the actor was not the first choice to play the lead in DDLJ. Back in the Nineties, Chopra had originally wanted Hollywood actor Tom Cruise to play the male lead in DDLJ, but his father, director and producer Yash Chopra, advised him to make the characters non-resident Indians. The year after DDLJ released, Cruise appeared in the first Mission Impossible (1996) film.
With Colby as the lead in the musical version of DDLJ, Chopra is getting a chance to tell the story he originally wanted to tell. We’ll have to wait to see if Colby as Rog Mandel can charm the audiences the way Khan did as Raj Malhotra.