1995 To Till Date: DDLJ Is Still Running In Maratha Mandir, A Love Story Between A Theatre & A Movie
Theatre a Home. Cinema a Memory. People, Stories.
This is the love story of Maratha Mandir and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge, which began on October 19, 1995. 27 Years have passed on, but the love story never ended.
ABOUT MARATHA MANDIR?
Maratha Mandir, a single-screen cinema near Mumbai Central. It has screened Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, ever since its release date of October 19, 1995, at the 11:30 AM slot. Like the movies, this was their love at first sight.
DDLJ has been running for over 27 years in Maratha Mandir. This is history, nowhere in the world, this kind of relationship between a theatre and a cinema can be found.
Maratha Mandir’s executive director Manoj Desai about the long run of DDLJ, ‘new films could be hit or miss, but the crowd for DDLJ is steady, and ever increasing. And DDLJ is evergreen. It tells the story of true love.’
The ticket prices at Maratha Mandir costs 30 rupees for downstairs seats and 40 for those on the balcony. Manoj Desai said, ‘Three hours in air-conditioning, 40 rupees. Who will refuse that?, DDLJ feels like HOME.’
Jagjivan Maru, projectionist, at Maratha Mandir said, ‘The theatre ran housefuls for the first 10 years of showing DDLJ, then after 10 years, it slowed down, but still, people come in huge numbers to watch DDLJ here.’
PEOPLE, AND THEIR STORIES WITH DDLJ AND MARATHA MANDIR
Madhu Sudan Varma, a homeless old man, comes to Maratha Mandir, and takes his seat on the ground floor, and watches DDLJ daily. He said ‘I find peace, I get a little calm here.’
Another story is nothing short of a cinematic masterpiece: “A well-settled man, booked the entire 1100 seats of the theatre and watched the film with his girlfriend and proposed to her after the film.”
Then, the woman with no name, everyone calls her Simran(Kajol’s name is Simran in DDLJ), at night she works as a prostitute in Kamathipura, Mumbai’s red-light district. In the morning, she never missed a show of DDLJ at Maratha Mandir. She said, ‘I watch only this film, I don’t know and don’t care about other films, I get lost every time I watch this movie, no matter how many times, I watched it.’
There are people, who watched it over a dozen times, but still come to theatres, the daily laborers, the travelers, the homeless, the rich, the poor, the middle-class, and the people with bucket lists, wishing to watch ‘DDLJ at Maratha Mandir’
After playing for 1009 uninterrupted weeks, the theatre management made a decision that DDLJ would come to an end. Because of the logistical issues of their staff having to work long hours daily for an early morning show of the DDLJ, they decided to end the long run of DDLJ with love and pain.
But in the end, LOVE wins, and HOME stays. As this news of DDLJ & Maratha Mandir ending their relationship spread like wildfire, the management was flooded not to stop the movie from playing, social media came to the aid with trending hashtags not to end the relationship of LOVE and HOME.
Then, the producers YRF and the management of Maratha Mandir made their decision of continuing the screening of DDLJ at the same 11.30 AM show, without any interruption.
LEGACY OF A LIFETIME
‘During the week, DDLJ still fills up to 30-40% but the weekends and holidays fill up to almost 70-80%. DDLJ’s numbers are still outdoing the new releases of this gen Z,’ the theatre management said.
THERE IS NO DEATH TO LOVE FOR CINEMA
The nationwide lockdown halted the run of DDLJ at the Maratha Mandir. The theatre management thought this will be the last goodbye to DDLJ wondering, will people ever come to theatres again. But fate has other options, theatres re-opened, people flocked into theatres to watch DDLJ, and they missed their HOME like never before, it’s like the experience of going back into a mother’s womb.
I don’t believe in miracles. But when you come across things like this, I have to say ‘Miracles do happen.’