September 16, 2022
In the opening scene of Come Fall in Love — The DDLJ Musical, the stage adaptation of the 1995 Bollywood blockbuster Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ), Rog (short for Roger), a young white American, is trying to buy beer from Baldev’s shop — but it’s closing time.
The scene is straight from the original film, but this one swaps London for Boston and Shah Rukh Khan’s Raj for Rog (Austin Colby). Insert one long sigh.
Suffice to say, Come Fall in Love, which opened at San Diego’s Old Globe on September 14, before it potentially heads to Broadway next year, is not DDLJ. Sure, the narrative is loosely similar: a diasporic Indian falls in love and must choose between honoring family expectations or following her own heart. But the changes are significant and challenging to ignore: a vital part of the cast is now white American, cultural values have become the occasional punchline, and the iconic original soundtrack is gone. The musical retelling also morphs the story into something more about American acceptance and less about South Asian family dynamics. The tricky thing about adaptations of beloved classics is that producers must walk the fine line of celebrating the parts that worked while bringing something new to the table. While the opening night show proved to be lively and even had the crowd on their feet, it also left a lot to be desired, particularly for those who were hoping to see their favorite love story come alive.