British actor is Raj in DDLJ’s Broadway adaptation, leaves SRK fans miffed

Filmmaker Aditya Chopra is all set to make his Broadway directorial debut with the Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge-inspired Come Fall In Love – The DDLJ Musical. Produced by Yash Raj Films, musical stars Austin Colby and Shoba Narayan, and the casting of a British actor in the iconic role of Shah Rukh Khan did not go down well with some fans. Also read: When Kajol revealed that DDLJ director Aditya Chopra was ‘so disgusted’ with her over a scene

Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge was released in 1995 and made Shah Rukh a superstar. It gave Shah Rukh his romantic hero image that he adopted over the next two decades. The film was directed by Aditya Chopra and also starred Kajol, Amrish Puri, Parmeet Sethi, Mandira Bedi and Anupam Kher with Farida Jalal. Shah Rukh’s character Raj is considered one of the most iconic romantic heroes in Indian cinema history.

Stills by Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayege.
Stills by Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayege.

Austin will play the lead role of Rog Mandel. In the original film, which was released in 1995, Shah Rukh Khan played the lead role and his character’s name was Raj. Earlier this month, Austin announced the news on his Instagram handle, writing: “A few months ago I had never heard of the movie Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ) or its worldwide impact. I am in awe of this beautiful love story, celebrating Bollywood film at its finest.And now, to have given Come Fall In Love – The DDLJ Musical under its original director, Aditya Chopra, entrusting the role of Raj (now Rog) to bring Bollywood to Broadway bringing it as a reimagined, inclusive cultural experience will undoubtedly be the greatest honor of my career, I hope I make you proud, @iamsrk.”

While Austin hopes to make Shah Rukh proud with his take on Raj (apologies, Rog), fans of the actor aren’t too happy. Author Aseem Chhabra tweeted: “But what’s the point of watching DDLJ, the stage musical without @iamsrk and @itsKajolD?” Others were more damning in their assessment. One fan tweeted: “DDLJ musical on Broadway, I hope you get screwed, I hope you stay in development hell, I hope you realize that no white person will ever be SRK.” Another tweet read: “It is completely and absolutely unacceptable for a white man to play the role of Raj Malhotra in the DDLJ musical.”

Meanwhile, Simran – both the character and the actor who plays her – remains Indian. Shoba will play the role of Simran originally played by Kajol. The actor made her Broadway debut with Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812. She also appeared in Growing Up Smith, Quantico, Halal in the Family; Gossip Girl, Coin Heist and Mistress America. The musical also stars Irvine Iqbal as Baldev (originally played by Amrish Puri), Rupal Pujara as Lajjo (originally played by Farida Jalal), and Vishal Vaidya as Ajit (originally played by Satish Shah).

Interestingly, Aditya Chopra initially conceptualized DDLJ with a white man in the lead role. He had revealed in an interview years ago that he initially wanted to make Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge with Hollywood star Tom Cruise.

The musical is based on an original story by Aditya Chopra and features lyrics by Laurence Olivier Award winner Nell Benjamin of Legally Blonde and Mean Girls. Music director duo Vishal Dadlani and Shekhar Ravjiani will compose the music, while Emmy winner Rob Ashford will choreograph with associate choreographer Shruti Merchant. Shruti is the younger sister of choreographer Vaibhavi Merchant.

According to the official website, the musical will have its world premiere at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego. The musical will start with performances from September 1 to October 16, 2022, with the official opening on September 14.

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