Indian nationalism can be divided into two: Culture and tradition. When the two of them are knit together, it is called as nationalism. When I think about the term culture a phrase automatically jumps into my mind: way of life. Culture is not something that is taught to us, it is something we are born into. We grow up seeing, listening, smelling, and absorbing it. It is a part of us that we take wherever we go. On the other hand, when I think of the term tradition, I think of rituals, practices and beliefs. I think of weddings, religious functions and a way of performing certain things.
While it is true that traditions are very important, I believe it takes a secondary position to culture. When culture and traditions come together, they bring the meaning and substance to the word nationalism. Aditya Chopras Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge released in 1995 and till date is one of the most popular films in Bombay cinema. While the theme line of the film suggests the audience to Come¦fall in love, the reason why this movie is so great is because of the underlying messages it sends out to its viewers.
There are a number of core lessons that this movie depicts, but at large the film demonstrates the idea of Indian nationalism constantly (Reddy). The inherent themes of migration and settlement were starting to develop in the nineties and Ashiwal captured the exact sentiments the first scene of the movie was trying to invoke in its audience. He wrote, Seeking to tug at the heartstrings of desis and NRIs alike, the narration begins in the voice of the upright Punjabi in a foreign land.
The song takes us back to the sunny skies of Punjab, where women dance n the countryside waving colourful dupattas ” and then brings us back to this grey London morning. In the narration, Baldev muses about how he feels like the pigeons, a nomad in the country he has lived for the past 18 years (Ashiwal). This immediately gives the audience a clear idea of what Baldev considers his true home, even though he has lived away from India for so long. Here it is understood that by home he is not referring to a particular community or place or state, but rather a feeling associated with a particular time, corresponding to a particular place i. e. Punjab (The development of Hindi Cinema).
While he is feeding the pigeons in the dull grey streets of London, Baldev is reminiscing the days of feeding pigeons surrounded by the lush golden fields of Punjab. This is supported in the texts of Anderson, where he says that communities are to be distinguished by the style in which they are imagined (Anderson 6). Baldev also talks about how he is imprisoned to a foreign land due to financial constraints and there was never a desire, but an actual need to move away from his homeland. This automatically projects nationalism in the sense that in his heart, his home will forever be India.
The movie goes on to show how the traditional and cultural values Baldev greatly believes is also reflected in the upbringing of his children Simran and Chutki. Though both his children, second-generation NRIs were raised on foreign soil, they adhere to the Indian value systems. In the part of the movie where he fixes Simrans alliance with his best friends son back in India, he says I am not a failure. In the heart of London, Ive kept India alive. This dialogue is important because it again projects his mindset and his ideals on what it is to be an Indian, whether it is in India or anywhere else.
His idea of being Indian is firmly rooted to his traditions and values, and not to the place he resides. Baldev is always dressed in traditional clothing, early morning prayers are part of the ritual and he expects his family to do the same. The idea the movie is trying to project to its audience is that while living in London, he still wants to preserve his homeland, especially Punjab. His longing for home and maintenance of traditions can be clearly seen in the first hour of the movie. The concept of nationalism is also constructed and propagated in the scene when he has his first encounter with Shah Rukh Khan (SRK).
In this scene, SRK a rich, spoiled NRI takes advantage of Baldev by playing the I-am-an-Indian-so-are-you card to get some medicine, when what he actually wants is beer. When Baldev finds out he is furious at the goofy SRK, and questions him, Is this why you call yourself a Hindustani? While buying beer in a place like London is not frowned upon and is normal, Baldevs morals and concept of how an Indian should be is communicated clearly. A clear distinction between DDLJ and any other love story is in the being Hindustani part of the movie.
While the theme of the movie promotes and invites its audience to Come.. all in love, that is not the message the movie sends out to its viewers. If it were any other movie, the actors would have eloped and lived happily-ever-after, but despite Simran begging him to run away with her, Raj refuses telling her it is wrong and against being a Hindustani to do so and goes against Hindu traditions. He tells Simran that unless her father gives him her hand with all his blessings, he will not make her his wife. And this is what our traditions tell us too- that marriage is between the families and not just the two involved and this is clearly shown in the movie.
Another subtle but important scene where nationalism plays out is when Anupam Kher is asked about his westernized clothes. His response to that is Being Hindustani is a state of mind. I think this greatly ties into Andersons idea of what nationalism is and his definition of imagined communities, It is imagined because members of even the smallest nations will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion (Anderson 6). The songs in the movie also promote a sense of nationalism and being Hindustani.
At every point in the movie, the songs rightly depict the phases and emotions Raj and Simran are going through in a conventional manner. They help to further intertwine Simran and Rajs emotions for each other by intimately but still conservatively developing their relationship. The songs help the viewer visualize the relationship between Raj and Simran, and the stipulations that come with it. The songs also demonstrate Indian Diaspora by using traditional Indian garments as well as traditional Bollywood music (Reddy).
While they are in love, there are no songs of them being together romantically but only in their thoughts. This again shows the traditional side of things. DDLJ truly depicts that being Indian is not what is portrayed on the outside, as seen by the role of SRK as a goofy, flirtatious boy, but what is in the heart. Ultimately, apart from the common language they both speak the principles, values, and morals that both Simran and Raj share, while living a completely different lifestyle is what makes this movie a true nationalist movie.