On the occasion of the 26th Anniversary of DDLJ’s release, a new Short Film pays tribute to the film, which has been running for a record 25 years at Mumbai’s Maratha Mandir Cinema and explores its social impact on the sex workers of Kamathipura. A 13-minute short film titled ‘Maratha Mandir Cinema’ was released on the Gorilla Short YouTube Channel on 20th October, the 26th Anniversary of DDLJ’s release which happened on 20th October 1995. The film is a poignant portrait of sex workers in Kamathipura in Mumbai and their hapless dreams. Directed by novelist turned filmmaker Pankaj Dubey, this film features noted actors Sarika Ji, Swanand Kirkire, Tanvi Ravindra Sangvai, and Rajeev K Panday.
The short film is named after the single screen theatre, Maratha Mandir Cinema that screened DDLJ every day for the past 25 years until the Covid-19 induced lockdown forced the theatre to pull down its shutters. The Raj -Simran cult romantic is the longest-running Hindi film of all time with a historic 1274 week run at Mumbai’s Maratha Mandir Theatre. But only a few people know how important the film was to the commercial sex workers from the neighboring red-light district of Kamathipura, India’s second-biggest red-light district. In their contrasting world of flesh and fetid breaths, DDLJ has been an aroma of liberation, love, and the promise of a better life; somewhere, somehow, someday... The film revolves around the life of a young woman called Simran. “Simran is a young girl raised in Kamathipura. Her heart nests in the neighbourhood theatre- Maratha Mandir Cinema where DDLJ is the only escape route from the drudgery and coercive environment. It is not just a film for her but the hope of love and liberation.”
The short film has been scripted by Shraddha Singh and has layered lyricism as a core of storytelling. It has also been a crowd-funded initiative. “The short was crowdfunded by my alumni friends from2002 batch of the Campus Law Centre, University of Delhi. Isn’t it amazing to have friends who have conviction in your dreams?” said Director Pankaj Dubey.
The director of the film Pankaj Dubey also says - “I was moved by the magical impact of this romantic film on the somber world of the sex workers in Kamathipura. It Inspired me to create visual empathy on the canvas with the help of this short fiction as a social tool. He also adds that “ I feel it's just the perfect time to release Maratha Mandir Cinema as it's a story of hope, love and liberation. Yes, the pandemic did cause some delay, but now post lockdown, stories with positive themes will be well received by our audiences. Besides, we would cherish the 26th year of the release of the blockbuster DDLJ, with the release of our film, on the 20th of October”.
The Filmfare nominated short has travelled to Cannes and Vancouver and has gathered love and accolades wherever it has gone. It is being released on Gorilla Shorts as the 6th Story of their new series called Offbeats S1. The earlier stories of the series like “Chaddi” and “Station Master Phool Kumar '' have already been runaway successes on YouTube and Disney+Hotstar. “Maratha Mandir Cinema” promises to be another engaging and entertaining episode in this anthology series. It is, after all a toast to the ‘Raj Simran Type ka Pyaar’