Terribly nervous, incredibly excited: Aditya Chopra on DDLJ, the Broadway musical

Terribly nervous, incredibly excited: Aditya Chopra on DDLJ, the Broadway musical

“Western musical theatre and Indian films are two long lost lovers separated in time,” says Indian filmmaker Aditya Chopra, who is set to make his Broadway debut as director with his record-setting worldwide Bollywood blockbuster ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ (DDLJ).

After 26 years, Aditya Chopra is set to direct DDLJ again – this time for the stage. Chopra has been working on this passion project for the past three years and has roped in a stellar, extremely diverse team, comprising some of the best talents of Broadway and India.

‘Come Fall in Love – The DDLJ Musical’ is being produced by Yash Raj Films. Based on an original story by Chopra, the musical will feature book and lyrics by Laurence Oliver Award-winner Nell Benjamin (‘Legally Blonde’; ‘Mean Girls’), top Indian songwriters Vishal Dadlani & Shekhar Ravjiani will serve as composers. Tony and Emmy winner Rob Ashford (‘Frozen’) will choreograph with associate choreographer Shruti Merchant.

Benjamin said: “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.

“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.”

The design team will also include set design by Emmy and Tony Award winner Derek McLane (‘Moulin Rouge!’; ‘Hairspray Live!’) and music supervision by Tony, Grammy, and Emmy Award-winning Bill Sherman (‘Hamilton’).

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Here is a note specially penned by Aditya Chopra to announce the launch of his new musical, set for launch next year…

“Summer 1985. I was 14 and on a holiday in London. My parents took my brother and me for our first musical theatre experience. The lights dimmed, the curtains lifted and what unfolded in the next 3 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 colours, 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.

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“Autumn 2021… I’m embarking on my most ambitious project till date. 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.

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“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. The past 3 years as we have developed this passion project, I have learnt so much from them and discovered the unbelievable talent that the Broadway community has. I feel 23 again, the same age I was when I directed DDLJ. I’m once again a student, each one of my team members is more experienced than me in the world of theatre, I’m the rookie and I’m loving every moment of it. I’m all set to learn, explore, create and enjoy with these wonderful theatre artists and the magical world of Broadway Musicals.

“See you on stage in Autumn 2022 with ‘Come Fall in Love – The DDLJ Musical’.”

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