In “Come Fall in Love”, the music brings him home

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“Come Fall in Love – The DDLJ Musical” is the next big Broadway-bound musical that has its roots in San Diego. The Old Globe officially opens production on Wednesday, September 14, 2022.

The play is an adaptation of a beloved Indian film, the 1995 Hindi musical “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge”. This is the story of Simran, a young Indian-American woman with an arranged marriage waiting for her in India. But first, she embarks on a summer trip through Europe, where she meets someone else.

The stage adaptation is from prolific Broadway lyricist Nell Benjamin and new music from the Mumbai-based musical duo known as Vishal and Sheykhar. Vishal Dadlani and Sheykhar Ravjiani spoke with KPBS Arts Producer and Editor Julia Dixon Evans and here is their conversation.

Musician Vishal Dadlani is shown in an undated photo.

Vishal, can you give our listeners a sense of the story and why this original film was so enduring and beloved?

Vishal: So “Come Fall in Love”, the musical is based on, or rather an adaptation of an Indian film called “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge”, popularly known as “DDLJ”, which is a pioneering company in the Indian film industry history. . A film that transcended being a story and somehow became part of the fabric of modern Indian culture. I think it happened because of the beauty of the love story and the fact that at heart the film is about the community of human emotion. The film itself is about people being people, across various sorts of borders, let’s say, cultural and so on. And the musical is about that too. It’s about uniting people from diverse backgrounds. It is about the meeting of cultures through the love of two young people. Within minutes of starting to watch the musical, it’s your story. Wherever you come from and whatever your background, this is your story. So that’s, I think, why people relate to it so strongly.

Sheykhar, I was wondering what was your own experience with the original film, if you grew up watching it and maybe how that shaped your approach to writing new music?

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Musician Sheykhar Ravjiani is shown in an undated photo.

Sheikhar: I think it’s very rare to find someone who isn’t a big fan of the movie. The movie came out in 1995, and I remember going to see that movie with my wife, and I was 19 when I went to see that movie. It just became an iconic love story…and we still talk about it. Every character is spoken even today, every line, every dialogue, every comedic moment is even used in daily banter even now. This movie is still in theaters right now. And when Adi (Aditya Chopra, the original filmmaker and director of The Old Globe production) kind of pitched this script to us, which was actually an adaptation of “DDLJ”, we were very excited and very thrilled because all the memories of the songs, all the memories of the dialogues, the characters from the movie… it just took us a little while to figure out how to disconnect from the movie, because it’s a totally new adaptation. And for Vishal and I, we immediately jumped into what Nell had written. Nell wrote – she is the author and author of ‘Come Fall in Love’. She wrote all the songs, lyrics and the book. And then we kind of started making music and we did something really, really cool – we have 18 new English songs that we wrote in “Come Fall in Love”. And the movie has, I think, five or six songs that are very popular. But we did 18 new songs for “Come Fall in Love”.

Vishal, what are some of the elements or songs that have been carried over from the original film?

Vishal: I just want to say that there are hints for the songs in the movie, because we’re fans too, but they don’t come off as songs – as much as they come off as transitions and moments. Audiences explode with joy when they find these little Easter eggs that we’ve inserted into the subtitles or narration. And I think it’s magical to see that. It’s magical to see the effect that nostalgia still has on our audience. And it’s also magical to see that we’re able to give them an entirely new story with entirely new music and just hints at the original songs, and it all works as one because of the universality of the story it -even from “Come Fall in Love.”

Vishal, on the other hand, what are the most important things that have changed in this adaptation?

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Austin Colby (Roger) and Shoba Narayan (Simran) are featured in a 2022 production photo for ‘Come Fall in Love – The DDLJ Musical’ at the Old Globe.

Vishal: The main thing is that it is now the story of the meeting of two cultures. It is the story of American culture, but also of Indian culture or Indo-American culture meeting through the love of these two characters, Roger Mandel and Simran Singh. For what it’s worth, that in itself is a major change. There is also entirely new music. The songs are very festive. India is a huge character in this show. India is front and center. Sheykhar and I, when we started doing this, one of the fundamental things that we really wanted to kind of have a common thread through all of this was that whoever watches it, if you’re South Asian and you look at it, you feel at home and you want to go home. You want to reconnect with your roots. And if you’re not South Asian, you feel the same, but you want to reach out and learn more about India or South Asia. You want to be part of this culture, this sound, this music, the colors, the joy, the magic and the vivacity of this part of the world.

The film was therefore the story of an Indian boy and girl, but it was conceived as this story by Adi (the original filmmaker and director of the production of The Old Globe) when he was a young writer writing his first film. What he wanted to do was a love story between an American boy and an Indian-American girl and to tell the meeting of the two cultures. And the two cultures find understanding.

And Sheykhar, did you get any negative reactions from big fans of the original? How has the reception been so far?

Sheikhar: My welcome was absolutely brilliant. In fact, in the last eleven – the last twelve previews, the reaction has been – it’s very weird, but the reaction has been that “we like it better than the movie”. And a lot of South Asians coming in and reacting like that, that it’s better than the movie, gives us even more joy and confidence that “yes, we’re doing something good”. And for many non-South Asian people who come to see the show, they are planning their next visit to India and really want to know more about our colors, our festival, our people, our culture, our food, everything. So I think it’s going very well and we can’t wait for the show to start.

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The cast of “Come Fall in Love – The DDLJ Musical” is featured in a 2022 production photo at the Old Globe.

So Vishal, I wanted to switch gears and talk a bit about your career and the work you’ve done so far, composing and producing music in many genres. You have also written for many films. How was this project different from writing film music for Hindi cinema?

Vishal: Well, it’s something that we literally started when the world came to a standstill due to COVID. We were all going through a difficult time. Everyone was going through a tough time, and staying level in those days was pretty tough. This is the project that kept us sane, kept us connected, kept us level. And while we were all in different places – Sheykhar and I were in different places, Adi was in the third place in India and Nell was, of course, in New York. And we were connected by Zoom and working on this magical piece of storytelling. And I think that’s what brought us some joy. We have done, as Sheykhar said, 65 or 70 films, 350 or 400 songs, of which about 99.5% would be in Hindi. And it was an opportunity to introduce Vishal and Sheykhar’s songwriting to a whole new audience in a whole new medium and a whole new language as well. So very exciting for us, a huge challenge because obviously anything based on DDLJ also has to keep in mind that the original is so iconic. You don’t want to mess with that. You want to do it right. You want to go further, a step forward.

And I think the main function of the music was to bring “Come Fall in Love” to people like their story, which is what we tried to do.

“Come Fall in Love – The DDLJ Musical” opens September 14 at the Old Globe and is on stage until October 16, 2022.

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