- “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge” is one of the most successful Indian films in history.
- It is adapted for Broadway, but with a white male lead.
Bollywood’s beloved film ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ is being adapted for Broadway – but some fans are accusing the production of whitewashing.
The original “DDLJ”, as the film is affectionately called by fans, follows two young Indians, Raj and Simran, as they fall in love while vacationing across Europe with their friends. But Simran’s father has arranged a marriage for his daughter in India, which the couple have to struggle with.
The film “Romeo and Juliet” was the highest-grossing Indian film when it was released in 1995, and is the longest running film in Indian cinema history. Critics praised the film for the way it portrayed issues of social and generational conflict in Indian culture.
The Broadway adaptation, “Come Fall in Love – The DDLJ Musical”, features a similar plot. But this time, Simran falls in love not with Raj, but with Roger “Rog” Mandel, a white American.
“Come Fall in Love” will be directed by Aditya Chopra and produced in association with Yash Raj Films, the director and production company of the original film. It also features many Indo-American cast and crew. The musical’s opening night is scheduled for September 14 at The Old Globe theater in San Diego.
But some members of the South Asian community oppose the replacement with the adaptation of its male lead, decry it as “absolutely and utterly unacceptable”.
One Twitter user called the adaptation “a cliche storyline of *a brunette girl struggling with her cultural identity and falling in love with a white guy.*”
—Overeducated Millennial (She/She) (@NadaHaqSiddiqi) July 13, 2022
“So it’s a white savior story now?” another Twitter user wrote.
“Why whitewash an Indian story? one user tweeted. “I hate it so much.”
—Maya Papaya (@mayapapaya319) July 14, 2022
Broadway has a long history of casting white actors as characters of color. Musicals like “In the Heights,” “Hairspray” and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Once on This Island” have also been criticized for being whitewashed.
A big part of the problem is the lack of diversity among actors, directors, writers and producers, experts say. A report 2021 on racial representation on New York stages revealed that white actors filled nearly two-thirds of all available roles during the 2018 to 2019 season. Nearly 94% of producers and directors were white, according to the study.