Bollywood's longest-running movie gets big screen reprieve

"Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge" has been on the big screen for  1,009 weeks.

Story highlights

  • "Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge" released in 1995 and is India's longest running film
  • Mumbai's Maratha Mandir theater announced February 19 that the film's run would end
  • Hundreds of fans expressed outrage and the romantic comedy has been brought back

(CNN)It has all the makings of a Bollywood blockbuster: a beautiful leading lady, an ukulele-toting hero and more than three hours of dancing across locations in India, London and the Swiss Alps.

"Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge," which is also known as DDLJ and translates as "The Brave-Hearted Will Take Away The Bride," has been on the big screen for an unprecedented 1,009 weeks -- nearly 20 years -- at Mumbai's Maratha Mandir theater.
    The longest-running film in Indian movie history, the 189-minute romantic comedy is about a young Indian couple from London who meet during a road trip around Europe. Simran, who is from a strict, conservative family, is due to be married off to a husband in India, when a Raj, a young hot head, pursues her. After much singing, dancing and serenading across fields of poppies, they fall head over heels in love -- despite opposition from their families.
    Much of DDLJ's enduring success is down to the movie's young leading actress, Kajol, who plays Simran. A virtual unknown when the film released in 1995, she's now Bollywood royalty -- known as much for her very distinctive eyebrows as her singing and dancing.
    Then there's Kajol's co-star Shah Rukh Khan, who plays as Raj. Now one of the most famous men in the world, he played a cheesy, over-the-top kid with a fancy car and charming dimples. Barely a blip on the Bollywood radar back then, Khan's career was defined by the first notes from his character's ukulele, which wafted through a field of yellow flowers as Kajol -- wearing hot pink lipstick -- ran towards him with the urgency of a woman in love.
    'Spontaneous outcry'
    So when the Maratha Mandir theater decided to end the Yash Raj Film production's two-decade run on its big screen, it caused an uproar among many Mumbai residents.
    Yash Raj put out a statement on its website titled "DDLJ Forever!" on February 19. The production company and the movie theater explained to the public that it had been "mutually decided to end the film's historic and record breaking run."
    The announcement triggered what The Times of India described as "a spontaneous and an overwhelming outcry from the cinema going audience."
    The Maratha Mandir theater told CNN by phone that it had "received hundreds upon hundreds of calls" the day the end of the film's historic run was announced.
    Fans also took to the movie's official website posting messages like: "Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge -- Official will no more be running in Martha Mandir!!! I really had a wish to go and fall in love once there ... A part of my dream dies today!!" Another said, "Ouch! This was not expected. Some legends are too good to come to an end ... at least not without a warning! Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge -- Official comes to a halt!"
    So -- after only two days -- the decision was reversed and Yash Raj invited movie lovers to "Come fall in love ... again and again," as the movie's tag line goes.
    'Absolute nostalgia'
    The scale of the Bollywood film industry -- the word's most prolific -- is truly staggering: the government estimates the industry produces more than 1,200 feature films a year, while approximately 15 million Indians fill cinemas daily. At this point, there are not even enough cinemas to screen these films.
    Even U.S. President Obama quoted, or tried to quote, a famous line from DDLJ during his visit to India last month, while discussing the economy and aid packages with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
    "Senorita, bade bade deshon mein ..." he started to say, before trailing off with: "you know what I mean."
    Last year when the film marked 1,000 weeks on screen, Shah Rukh Khan paid homage to his character by tweeting a picture of himself carrying his backpack from the movie with the caption: "Tried my 20 yrs later Raj look. The bag and me is original from the film.... the smile is from today for a 1000 weeks!"
    Kajol, meanwhile, in November tweeted stills from the movie with an emphatic: "Re-living #DDLJ! Absolute nostalgia!!!"
    The movie's return to the big screen means that now -- at 11.30 a.m. every day - Mumbai's film aficionados can share that nostalgia, once again falling under the spell of some truly classic crooning Bollywood-style.