The impromptu news of Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol's landmark film DILWALE DULHANIA LE JAAYENGE (DDLJ) being pulled out after completing 20 years and a historic 1000 week run at Mumbai's Maratha Mandir, one of the oldest single screen theatre of the city, came as bolt from the blue for all and sundry! So much so that people thronged at theatres and the theatre executives were flooded with incessant phone calls and messages.
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Like a true-blue DDLJ fan, I too was taken aback and couldn't resist asking Manoj Desai, Executive director at Maratha Mandir about the recent report. “I have been consistently getting calls on it. From the time the press release stormed all the publications and media houses, there have been near around 250 calls from different parts of the world – Dubai, South Africa, London, etc. and also from different parts of India like Kathmandu, Delhi and many more places. They all were stunned and kept hurling questions on DDLJ being pulled out. A lot of people or hard core fans asked me that why am I removing the film? Why am I no more continuing it? In fact as the news spread-out, there was a turnout of (approx.) 400 people for the show the other morning out of 4000 waiting!” he exclaimed initially.
He later added about the report, “We didn't spread the word. The mail was sent out by YRF without our information. Even we were surprised at this action of YRF! However, now we will be meeting to discuss about the same coming Wednesday. Though on huge public demand the screening has been extended and it will probably run for more 15-20 weeks, everything will be finalized once Adi (Aditya) Chopra, who is out of country right now, is back. Meanwhile, we have even changed the show timings from 9.15 to 11.30 am.”
When we asked Manoj if there was any strategy behind it or if it was a gimmick to increase footfalls for DDLJ, to which he replied, “I can't say anything right now because the communication was not out from our end. After a meeting with YRF, the decision will be taken whether to have it for few weeks or few years.”
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But probe Manoj if he wishes to have DDLJ for lifetime and he says, “We would love to have it for years, but I can retain or stretch it for couple of years not beyond that. We are not getting any benefit commercially. The ticket rates are so low just 15, 17 and 20. Under such circumstance, how do we run a theatre? The recoveries are less than the maintenance it takes. Moreover, the movie is shown 3-4 times a week on TV. So obviously it affects the footfalls also. Having DDLJ was more on sentimental purpose than commercial thing.”
So, it is being discontinued purely for the losses reason? “It's not about loses. We wanted to run it for 20 years so the film was there and it even earned its desired name & fame. It also fetched several rewards and honours of being the only film in the World to run for the longest time, being in the Guinness book of world record or Limca book of records. From last 20 years DDLJ has become a habit. Because of its strategic location opposite Mumbai Central Railway station, people drop by at the theatre. People from Delhi specially used to come down to watch the film. The buses which travel for Mumbai Darshan do visit the theatre. In fact, it has become one of the hot tourist spots in the city,” Desai signs off.
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