It was in 1995 when Aditya Chopra presented the love story of Raj and Simran, and now 26 years later, the tale is set to be chronicled as a Broadway musical. Chopra on Saturday announced that he will make his Broadway debut as a director with the musical version of the classic romance movie. The filmmaker is "terribly nervous and incredibly excited" about the Broadway musical and he feels "23 again (the same age I was when I directed DDLJ)".
"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," he said in a note shared with the media.
Backed by Yash Raj Films, "DDLJ", as it came to be known by, is considered one of the landmark films in Indian cinema.
Titled "Come…Fall In Love. The DDLJ - Musical", the Broadway show will be produced by Chopra's Yash Raj Films.
Based on an original story by Chopra, the musical will feature book and lyrics by Laurence Olivier Award-winner Nell Benjamin of "Legally Blonde" and "Mean Girls" fame.
Music director duo Vishal Dadlani and Shekhar Ravjiani will serve as composers, while Tony and Emmy winner Rob Ashford will choreograph with associate choreographer Shruti Merchant.
Tony winner Derek McLane, who earlier worked on musicals like "Moulin Rouge!", "Hairspray Live!" and "33 Variations", will design the set with music supervision by Bill Sherman. Adam Zotovich will executive produce the Broadway musical.
"Come…Fall In Love. The DDLJ - Musical" will be on stage in the Broadway season of 2022-2023, with a world premiere at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego September 2022.
A global casting search begins shortly headed by Duncan Stewart of Stewart/Whitley casting and Yash Raj Films casting head Shanoo Sharma.
In his note, Chopra recalled his earliest memory of attending a Broadway show back in 1985 when his filmmaker father Yash Chopra took him and his brother Uday Chopra to their "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," he said.
Chopra said what resonated with him was the fact that the musical theatre was so similar to 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.
The filmmaker said "Come…Fall In Love. The DDLJ - Musical" is the most ambitious project of his life.
"I’m reuniting two long lost lovers, Broadway Musical and Indian Films," he added.
Chopra also revealed that he initially wanted to make "Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge" with Hollywood star Tom Cruise.
But eventually made the movie in Hindi with Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol as lead stars.
"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," he said.
The filmmaker, however, is glad for his Hindi debut that gave him his "identity" and kickstarted an amazing journey and said he will 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," he added.
Chopra said he may be nervous but he is relying on a fantastic team who has worked with for the past three years in developing "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," he said.
Nell Benjamin said "Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge" was his introduction to the world of Indian cinema.
"I was so happy to be approached to do the musical and I hope my work helps everyone fall in love with Simran and Rog and their journey across multiple cultures to love.
"The world can always use a little more cultural understanding, and I can’t wait to sit in a theater with an audience sharing the joy and surprise of 'Come Fall In Love: The DDLJ Musical'," he added.