Chapter 9: Dil Chahta Hai and Honey Irani
“Mujhe pyaar ho gaya hai, Dad.“
Some media reports suggest that the plot of Dil Chahta Hai was inspired by the souring of the friendship between Farhan Akhtar and Uday Chopra due to a controversy associated with Aditya Chopra’s Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995). It was alleged that Honey Irani, noted scriptwriter and Farhan’s mother, was not given credit for the film’s story by Aditya Chopra. This broke Farhan’s friendship with his childhood friend Uday. And, it was speculated that he incorporated elements of that in the story of his first film. However, in an interview with Rediff, Farhan clarified, “I would be lying if I said I wasn’t upset. Not just at Uday, but at all of them. Because these are people, I knew for practically all my life. It really upset my Mom for a long time because they were her close friends. But no, it was not an inspiration for Dil Chahta Hai.”
Instead of the friendship angle, I feel there are more common elements in the stories of Raj (Shah Rukh Khan) and Simran (Kajol) in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, and Akash and Shalini in Dil Chahta Hai. Both Raj and Akash are the ultimate cool guys. They are affluent, pampered, and aimless in life. They do not need to worry about working as their fathers have indulged them all their lives. They are funny, flirtatious, and witty; Akash is almost wicked. They are philanderers and have had many affairs in the past. The draft script of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge had the scene where Raj comes to Bauji’s (Amrish Puri) shop asking for a pack of condoms. And, we know that Akash’s different relationships never went beyond two weeks. On the other hand, there are similarities between Simran and Shalini. They are both relatively docile and submissive. Simran was engaged to Kuljeet (Parmeet Sethi) when she was young; she does not dare to tell Bauji that she does not want to marry a guy that she has not even seen once in her entire life. Like Simran, Shalini was engaged to Rohit (Ayub Khan), even though she did not like him. As Rohit’s parents raised her, she wants to pay off their debt of all their care by getting married to their son. And, then, there is Kuljeet and Rohit, who also share some similar characteristics. They both are jerks, Kuljeet more so than Rohit, and are not exactly the sort of guys that any girl would want to marry.
Raj and Simran had a shaky start to their relationship. However, when they get to know each other during their travels in Europe, they start liking each other. Similarly, Akash and Shalini had a disastrous first meeting. Akash was punched by Rohit when he tried to flirt with Shalini. Like Raj and Simran get acquainted in Europe, Shalini and Akash get to know each other better only when they are together in Australia. Raj and Akash also come to disrupt the weddings of Simran and Shalini, respectively. Simran’s Bauji wants her to marry Kuljeet, but later, he relents his opposition to Raj and asks her to spend her life with Raj. “Ja Simran ja, jee le apni zindagi,” he says to Simran. In almost similar circumstances, Rohit’s father, who brought up Shalini, asks her to marry Akash. “Agar tum in karzon ko chukana chahti ho, khush dekhna chahti ho humein, toh Akash se shaadi karlo,” he tells her.
There are more similar contours between the father-son relationship of Raj and his ‘Pops,’ and Akash and his ‘Dad.’ Raj and Akash openly discuss their love life with their fathers and are given the same advice by their fathers to go after the girl they like and fight for their love.
Honey Irani’s first film as a writer was Yash Chopra’s Lamhe (1991), in which Viren (Anil Kapoor) falls in love with an older Pallavi (Sridevi). In Dil Chahta Hai, Sid falls in love with an older Tara. There are again some common elements between the two films of the mother and the son. Viren is shy, innocent, and quiet. He falls in love with Pallavi. Likewise, Sid is an introvert and falls for Tara. Viren and Sid do not care about the age difference between their respective lovers. At one stage, Viren makes a portrait of Pallavi; Sid also makes a painting of Tara. Viren and Sid lack a fatherly figure in their lives and have a lap-hugging loyalty to their mothers. Pallavi dies in an accident, and Tara dies of liver cirrhosis, and both of them have a death scene in the hospital about their relationship where Viren speaks to Pallavi, and Sid speaks to Tara. Viren and Sid never wanted to reveal to Pallavi and Tara that they were in love with them. All they wanted was to see the other person happy. In another moment, whenever Viren closed his eyes, he could see Pallavi’s face that continued to remain with him in his memory. The same did not happen to Sid, but Akash, who saw Shalini’s face when he realized he loved her during the scene at the opera theater.
Farhan has said that a few events from his life inspired the story of Dil Chahta Hai. Therefore, I do not wish to conclude that his film is based on Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge or Lamhe. However, for academic purposes, one can see the common elements in his work and his mother’s. And, on a concluding note, here is another fascinating trivia. Farhan had started his career as an assistant director on the sets of Lamhe as well. Life finds connections everywhere.