Chapter 24: Influence on Other Filmmakers

“Main kya karun, Sweetu, maine agar Dil Chahta Hai nahi dekhi?”

Dil Chahta Hai brought about a change in the filmmaking process in the industry and inspired many filmmakers in different ways. When Karan Johar learned that his childhood friend Farhan Akhtar was making Dil Chahta Hai, he initially dismissed it. Karan was working on Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (2001) and felt there was no competition to his film from Farhan’s film. But once he saw Dil Chahta Hai, he was totally impressed by it. He believed that he had already made the coolest film ever in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, but Dil Chahta Hai made him realize how uncool his first film was. He was so inspired by it that it led him to write his own cool film, Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003). He has also added a few tributes to Dil Chahta Hai in Kal Ho Naa Ho. At one point in the film, Aman (Shah Rukh Khan) tries to set up Sweetu (Delnaaz Irani) on a date and says, “Main kya karun, Sweetu, maine agar Dil Chahta Hai nahi dekhi? Mujhe hair styles ke baar me kuch nahi maloom.” It is a comment on the new wave styling brought about by Dil Chahta Hai. At a later stage in the film, Aman meets Priya (Sonali Bendre); he says, “Koi mar gaya kya” which is the same dialogue that Sameer and Sid spoke in the club in Dil Chahta Hai.

Dil Chahta Hai in Kal Ho Naa Ho.
Koi Mar Gaya Kya‘ in the two films.

In an interview with Rajeev Masand, Ayan Mukerji also talked about Dil Chahta Hai, which was the one film that changed his life. He said that he loved it when he watched the movie, but his parents did not like it. His parents not enjoying it gave him all the more reason to love it because he could claim the film as his own. There is no doubt that both his movies, Wake Up Sid (2009) and Yeh Jawaani hai Deewani (2013), had shades of Dil Chahta Hai. In his first film, Wake Up Sid, he names the lead character after Sid from Dil Chahta Hai. In another scene, Sid (Ranbir Kapoor) speaks the same dialogue that Akash said in Dil Chahta Hai. “Usne teri khuddari ko lalkara hain yaar, kya kar raha hain, mard ban, be a man” Ayan also depicted the loneliness of Kabir (Ranbir Kapoor) in the song Ilahi in his second film Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani where he took inspiration from Tanhayee from Dil Chahta Hai. Ilahi had similar picturization sequences like that in Tanhayee, such as the one where Kabir walks in the cemetery, another one where he sits near the edge, and another where he washes his face. Homi Adajania, too, has said that Dil Chahta Hai was the one film that changed his life. While speaking to the Indian Express, he said, “I knew I wanted to be a director when I saw Dil Chahta Hai. Zoya was in college with me, and I have known Farhan all my life. I felt if someone with my sensibility can make a film, then I too can.

Themes in Dil Chahta Hai, Wake Up Sid, and Yeh Jawaani hai Deewani.

Zoya Akhtar’s Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011) also seems to have shades of her brother’s film. It is the story of three friends who go on a road trip to Spain. Arjun (Aamir Khan) is Akash; Imran (Farhan Akhtar) is Sid; Kabir (Abhay Deol) is Sameer. Arjun and Imran have some unresolved issues from the past. By the end of it, Imran apologizes to Arjun for his behavior that hurt their friendship. This track seems to resonate with the one between Akash and Sid. Sometimes, I wonder if the character of the painter Salman Habib (Naseeruddin Shah) could be the future of Sid, but I could not convince myself because Sid is far too nice to be as blunt and carefree as Salman.

Dil Chahta Hai and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara.

Farhan Akhtar made his second film Lakshya in 2004, where he again brings touches from his first film. Lakshya was the story of an upper-class boy Karan Shergill (Hrithik Roshan), with no aim in life, who became a celebrated officer of the Indian army. The purposelessness of the life of Karan is similar to Akash’s in Dil Chahta Hai. Then, Karan joins the army training institute but runs away as he could not cope with the strict, rigorous training regimen. His girlfriend Romilla (Preity Zinta) breaks up with him for his lack of commitment. A dejected Karan, banished by all, is seen crying by himself. The scene is reminiscent of Akash’s breakdown in Dil Chahta Hai after Shalini goes to India.

Men crying in Dil Chahta Hai and Lakshya.

Other films might not directly reference Dil Chahta Hai, but their making gives a similar vibe. It has been twenty years since its release, and the film continues to be talked about, which shows its ever-lasting impact.