DDLJ Re-released For V-Day But Why I Preferred Pathaan Instead

As a mother to two teenage children, I’d rather let them watch the movie ‘Pathaan’ than ‘DDLJ’, and here are the reasons why.

DDLJ was re-released to make Valentine’s Day magical.  As a 90s kid, I agree that my heart fluttered every time I watched the movie once upon a time. I was absolutely in love with Raj and Simran (SRK and Kajol), their cute love story, and used to enjoy humming the songs in endless loops. But now if I look back, I wonder how I failed to notice all the red flags in the movie that shamelessly put women down. As a mother to two teenage children, I’d rather let them watch the movie ‘Pathaan’ than ‘DDLJ’, and here are the reasons why.

Love and Marriage a priority in DDLJ… Uh!

In DDLJ, the opening scene starts with Simran (Kajol) singing about the man of his dreams in the song “Mere Khwabo mein jo aaye”. Seriously? Is that the only thing that girls dream about— like a damsel in distress eagerly waiting to have a fairytale wedding. What about their education, and career goals? Why are women being stereotyped? Is it because they aren’t competent enough?

Whereas in Pathaan, Rubai (Deepika) is an ISI agent. Love and Marriage are not her priorities. She is empowered, focused, strong, and exudes confidence in everything that she does—whether it’s dancing or fighting.

DDLJ screams Patriarchy

DDLJ screams Patriarchy. Simran and her mom shudder to utter a word against Bauji (Simran’s father) even if it’s against their wishes. Kajol, despite being raised in Europe is conditioned to be a ‘Sanskaari’ woman who has to bow her head innumerable times and sacrifice her desires to safeguard the family’s pride. Is it because men are always right and women are wrong? Is it because a ‘Sanskaari’ woman is expected to be docile and always listen to the men in the family?

In Pathaan, Rubai takes up a rather challenging role, smashing all stereotypes after what happened to her father. She owns her sexuality, fires bullets, and walks equally tall with all the men who are the main cast.

Let’s be surer of what we want, shall we?

Simran in DDLJ is shown to be indecisive. She can neither decide if she wants to marry the guy in India nor acknowledge her love for Raj. In the end, she does acknowledge her love for Raj. But who is Raj? Though a college dropout with no career goals, he knows how to win a woman’s heart by being cute and singing songs. And Simran falls for him.

Rubai, on the other hand, has clear goals. Nothing seems to hinder her path when it comes to fulfilling her goals—not even sacrificing the man for whom she could have developed feelings. And love does simmer between Rubai and Pathaan but it’s not the dramatic kind of love. It’s more mature and develops over time between two level-headed individuals.

Who are men to “allow” women to do what they want?

DDLJ does end on a happy note. But how? Bauji lets Simran go to Raj. So, men have to grant permission to women for whatever they wish for? Simran’s mom is fine with Simran being in love with Raj but unfortunately, she doesn’t have a voice. Why should women play victims instead of putting their foot down to smash the mindless preconceived notions?

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In Pathaan, apart from Rubai, Dimple Kapadia who plays the role of SRK’s boss is portrayed to be a strong character. As a senior officer, she guides her team and prioritizes work over family without second-guessing her choices. Isn’t this how women ought to be portrayed?

One might argue that movies are purely for entertainment, but being an effective medium for storytelling, isn’t it imperative that we are watchful about the messages being spread? So my case is rested here. Pathaan is much better than DDLJ in many ways when it comes to the portrayal of women. I’m glad Bollywood is trying to evolve. And, I’m glad I have evolved.

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Gowri Bhargav

A freelance storyteller and a writer by passion. read more...

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