How ‘DDLJ’ Went From Screen to Stage

The cast and crew break down what it means to change beloved elements of Aditya Chopra’s 1995 Bollywood blockbuster — but still keep its spirit alive.

Sadaf Ahsan

October 20, 2022

How ‘DDLJ’ Went From Screen to Stage
The cast of 'Come Fall in Love – The DDLJ Musical.' (Jim Cox)

It was a cold January day when Shoba Narayan, then a fledgling Broadway star, got a call from long-time stage producer Adam Zotovich. All he could tell her, he said, was that he was working on a “very informal” reading of an “iconic” film adaptation, and he wanted to know if she’d be able to come by. But the more they talked, and the more Narayan nudged, he revealed a few spicier tidbits: joining them would be Nell Benjamin, the Tony Award-nominated writer behind the stage adaptations of Legally Blonde and Mean Girls, and none other than director Aditya Chopra, the man behind 2000’s Mohabbatein, and, of course, 1995’s Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ). The name sent a jolt through Narayan, who was starring in the 2020 Broadway production of Wicked at the time. 

“At this point, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what is the property?’ Once he said DDLJ, I was like, ‘I will see you on Monday,’” said Narayan, who would come to play Simran (originally played by Kajol) in Come Fall in Love — The DDLJ Musical, the stage adaptation. “Monday was my one day off, to rest my body and voice, but I was there, 9:00 a.m. in Manhattan. When I read the script, I was blown away by Nell’s writing. I felt, if this were to work out, it could be such a huge moment for our community, on Broadway, and that's something I’ve spent my life and my career working so hard for.”

Indeed, it’s been nearly two decades since the premiere of Bombay Dreams, the first and only South Asian-run show to have made it to Broadway. While Come Fall in Love, which opened in September, hasn’t officially confirmed that it’s heading to Broadway, it recently extended its run at San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre. 

Come Fall in Love is the first stage production for Yash Raj Films, one that has been four years in the making, and could very well start a more substantial Bollywood-to-Broadway pipeline. The adaptation, however, has drawn controversy, mainly for Chopra choosing to completely reenvision his hit film with a white male lead, updated story, and new music. But when a maestro behind blockbusters asks you to join their team and help them adapt his classic — even with substantial changes — you take the call.