The 1995 movie, popularly known as DDLJ is being adapted for the stage as Come Fall in Love – The DDLJ Musical.
Written and directed by Aditya Chopra, the movie stars Shah Rukh Khan as the protagonist, Raj. Kajol plays Simran, and the two are lovers whose friends and family oppose the union. In the end, of course, Simran is asked to live her life, “Jaa Simran, jee le apni zindagi”, and she runs after the train in an iconic scene, to be united with Raj, her lover. The film is still shown in theatres today after becoming the highest-grossing movie of the year.
This is Chopra’s debut as a stage director, but his choice to cast a white man – Austin Colby- in the lead role, and rename him Rog, has caused many fans to complain of whitewashing.
The Cambridge dictionary describes whitewashing as “the practice of using only white actors, models, or performers, especially the practice of using a white actor to play a character who is not white”.
Vikas Khanna, the celebrated Indian chef, tweeted it was a “terrible” decision. He also took it forward saying that casting a white man was a chance lost for an Indian actor.
BBC interviewed a fan who said, “South Asian-American actors would want to be considered and see their culture in a place which historically doesn’t reflect”. The casting should therefore support that in the main role.
Raj and Simran have, over time, come to symbolize couples who want to be together but face resistance from their families. The musical has its world premiere at San Diego’s Old Globe Theater in September 2022 and will arrive on Broadway in the 2022/23 season.