Indian filmmaker Aditya Chopra’s immensely popular 1995 Bollywood film “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge,” commonly abbreviated to DDLJ, is being adapted as a Broadway stage musical titled “Come Fall In Love – The DDLJ Musical.”
Set between the U.K. and India, the film, starring Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol as Raj and Simran, is the story of lovers who must overcome parental opposition to be together. It has been playing at Mumbai’s Maratha Mandir cinema since release and has had several elongated theatrical runs elsewhere.
Chopra will direct the Broadway adaptation, which will feature book and lyrics by Laurence Oliver Award-winner Nell Benjamin (“Legally Blonde”) and choreography by Tony and Emmy winner Rob Ashford (“Frozen,” “Thoroughly Modern Millie”) and associate choreographer Shruti Merchant. The set design will be by Emmy and Tony Award winner Derek McLane (“Moulin Rouge!”)
Leading Indian songwriters Vishal Dadlani and Shekhar Ravjiani will serve as composers. Music supervision is from Tony, Grammy and Emmy Award-winning Bill Sherman (“In The Heights,” “Hamilton”). Adam Zotovich serves as executive producer.
“Come Fall In Love – The DDLJ Musical” will debut in the Broadway season of 2022-2023, with a world premiere at the Old Globe theater in San Diego in Sept. 2022. A global casting search headed by Duncan Stewart of Stewart/Whitley casting and Yash Raj Films casting head Shanoo Sharma will begin imminently.
Chopra shared a note on the process that led to the musical. “Summer 1985. I was 14 and on a holiday in London. My parents took my brother and me for our first musical theatre experience,” Chopra wrote. “The lights dimmed, the curtains lifted and what unfolded in the next three hours left me speechless and stunned. Now, till then, I was a kid who was an avid movie watcher and what I loved the most was big screen Indian blockbusters. But that day what I saw on stage blew my mind. I couldn’t believe that this kind of spectacle could be created live on stage. But the most significant aspect that resonated with me was how similar musical theatre was to our Indian films. It was just not the fact that both use songs to tell the story, it was much more than that, it was the feeling they evoked which was exactly the same. The burst of colors, the heightened drama, the passionate singing, the unabashed dancing, a classic story, a happy end. It filled me with the same joy and emotions that a good Indian film does. I realised then, that worlds apart, languages apart, western musical theatre and Indian films are two long lost lovers separated in time.”
“Autumn 2021… I’m embarking on my most ambitious project till date,” Chopra added. “I’m reuniting two long lost lovers, Broadway Musical and Indian Films. 26 years back I started my career with a film called ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ (DDLJ, what it is more famously known as). The film created history and changed my life and many others forever. But what many don’t know is that I never intended to make DDLJ in Hindi. As a 23-year-old young man greatly influenced by Hollywood and American pop culture, I thought I would make a couple of Indian films and then I would be off to Hollywood and make DDLJ for a worldwide English speaking audience with Tom Cruise as my leading man. That obviously didn’t happen. DDLJ released in 1995 and became the longest running film of Indian cinema. It gave me my identity and kickstarted an amazing journey for which I’ll always be grateful.”
“26 years later I’m going back to my original vision of the story of DDLJ, a love story of an American boy and an Indian girl, a love story of two cultures… two worlds. But this time the medium is not cinema but theatre. 26 years later I will be directing DDLJ all over again but this time as an English language Broadway musical for a worldwide audience.”
“I’m terribly nervous and incredibly excited. I’m a hardcore cinema guy, I have never done theatre in my life and here I am trying to pull off the craziest ambition of my life. But what is giving me confidence is the fantastic team that I have. Each one of them are masters of their field and their brilliance and expertise is going to make this a fantastic show.”
“See you on stage in Autumn 2022 with ‘Come Fall In Love – The DDLJ Musical,” Chopra added.
“DDLJ was my introduction to Indian filmmaking before I even knew who the amazing Aditya Chopra was, and the movie had such joy and heart that I fell in love with it,” said Benjamin. “I was so happy to be approached to do the musical and I hope my work helps everyone fall in love with Simran and Raj and their journey across multiple cultures to love.”
“It’s a dream come true to bring the best of India’s Bollywood tradition to the Broadway stage,” said Zotovich. “Both cultures feature rich tapestries and ingenious storytelling for multi-generational audiences. I can’t wait for Broadway to experience this joyous new musical.”
Akshaye Widhani, senior VP of Yash Raj Films, said: “We look forward to sharing this story of love and happiness with an international audience and hope it touches their hearts like the film did for millions worldwide over the last 26 years.”