For 1,009 weeks, a beloved Bollywood movie played in a single-screen theater in Mumbai, often to sold-out crowds. After more than 19 years, the longest-running Indian film will be ending its streak next week.

Just imagine: Nearly one-third of India's population wasn't even born when the film first hit theaters.

Released in 1995, the film was supposed to have its last showing on Friday, but due to public demand, fans will have one more week.

The movie, "Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge" (or fondly called "DDLJ"), has become a staple in Indian pop culture and has secured its spot as one of the most popular Bollywood films of all time. That's a pretty big accomplishment for a movie industry that churns out more films than any other. Countless filmmakers have tried to recreate the lasting power of this film, and it is routinely referenced, spoofed and revered.

So what about "DDLJ" has made it stick around for so long?

The plot is simple -- a young, feisty woman from an Indian immigrant family in London goes on a trip with her friends before she is married off and has to move to India. During her travels, she meets an outgoing, charming man. They fall in love, though they both realize it only after they have parted ways. The film then moves from the European countryside to a village in Punjab, where the woman is to be married to another man. The hero arrives, and instead of eloping with the woman, woos her family and convinces them of their union.

It's fairly typical love story, a genre in which Bollywood excels. But certain things about this particular saga has led to its 19-year run.

For one, unlike earlier Romeo-and-Juliet stories that pitted the lovers against the world, "DDLJ" did the opposite. Instead of revolting against the parents-know-best tradition, they tried to convince the woman's family that making individual decisions isn't a bad thing.

"DDLJ" also tackled something very few Indian movies had done in the past: It addressed the Indian immigrant experience in a realistic manner, and challenged the characterizations of immigrant Indians.

In many earlier Bollywood movies, non-resident Indians were either portrayed as young, wealthy expats who returned from Britain or the United States with cool sunglasses, or as villains who smoked, drank and scoffed at Indian culture and traditions.

In "DDLJ," the two protagonists, who were brought up in London are well-mannered and respectful of the Indian culture. And the antagonist isn't the foreign-raised rich kid but an Indian-born misogynist.

The father of the female protagonist, while living in a nation thousands of miles away, is steadfast in his devotion to his Indian roots. He sees his daughter marrying someone of her choice as a clear violation of what he considers to be Indian values -- that parents choose a spouse for their children, and that children obey and respect their parents' wishes.

In the end, he lets his daughter marry the man of her choice. The takeaway is clear: being Indian isn't defined by where you live, and that valuing family traditions isn't trumped by individualism.


In this photograph taken on Dec. 5, 2014, an Indian cinemagoer walks past a poster of a screening of the popular Bollywood Hindi film 'Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge' at the Maratha Mandir movie theatre in Mumbai. (Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty Images)

And there's more. There was a new level of authenticity in "DDLJ." While there were the dances in the rain and shots of a fancy Lamborghini, the movie did not have excessive displays of jewelry, designer clothes and beautiful people that usually fills films that feature the rich.

The two main stars had average looks that made them seem approachable. Neither Shah Rukh Khan nor Kajol, the actors who portray the main protagonists Raj and Simran, looked like models or were particularly "dreamy." They were certainly attractive, but did not have the six-pack abs and glamorous beauty of many other Bollywood actors. Kajol has a unibrow she refuses to get rid of.

Of course, this was a Bollywood movie made almost 20 years ago, and Indian films have progressed much since then. There are some regressive views of a woman's virtue and other issues that may not have made the film successful today, such as the fact that neither character held jobs.
But "DDLJ" does drive one thing home: It challenges old, patriarchal norms and redefines what it means to be Indian, which is not about where you live or whom you marry, but about valuing your family.
Clearly, 19 years later, that message still resonates.
(Editor's note: This post was originally written after the film's 1,000 week run in December. It has been updated to reflect the theater's decision to stop showing the film.)