Text and photos by Ipsita Barua
Gyrating actresses in monochrome chiffon sarees, lovestruck actors rolling down perfectly manicured meadows, seductive snowball fights in subzero temperatures without visible ugly thermal wear…does it all ring a bell? Not just any bell, but a cowbell? If the answer is ‘Yes’, you are either glued to Yash Chopra’s concocted fantasies on your flatscreen or part of a huge Cox & Kings/Thomas Cook tour group in Switzerland.
Funnily enough, you will never realise how filmy you are until you’re in Switzerland. Deviating from charted itineraries, you’ll want to see where Sunny Deol trampled wildflowers while dancing to Yara ‘O’ Yara, the picture-perfect landscape that was a better match for Chandni than Rishi Kapoor, the toboggan that pumped up Ranbir and Minissha’s adrenaline and romance, and decades of such Alpine screenplays on location.
As a dorky teenager in the 90s, my fascination with Switzerland started with Raj and Simran. To make the movie a hit it has a clichéd ‘boy meets girl’ ‘angry dad’ storyline. I strongly believe the opening credits should have read – ‘Starring Shahrukh Khan, Kajol and Switzerland’.
A hero with a funny mop of hair and an unibrowed heroine made it relatable while Switzerland decked up the romance with misty mountains, emerald lakes, charming city backdrops, flushing fields and gushing Alpine streams. Even the cows were rhythmic. Who wouldn’t fall in love when flanked by such gorgeousness?
The Brave-hearted Will Take Away the Bride. That’s how DDLJ tours in Switzerland are known and named. As tourists to this land of scenic superlatives in 2008 and 2014, we never actively sought out the movie’s locations. It’s difficult when you’re bound by tight train times and an ambitious itinerary. Until now, when as residents of Switzerland, we have both the privilege and leisure to walk the same grounds as Raj and Simran.
Lapping up the half-fare train ticket offer, we set out in quest of the Holy Grail to Zweisimmen and Saanen, two of the four major locations for DDLJ in Switzerland.
Somewhere between all of this, did I mention that I and my husband of 12 years, started our story just when Raj and Simran did. If you are itching to relive some filmy fantasies and taste fabulous fondue, check the links that could help you make the most of Yash Chopra’s relic of romance.