Delhi-6 Movie Review: A Brave and Ambitious Film, it is the lighthouse of Indian Cinema in its Noble Intentions
Delhi 6 is one of the most important films to have emerged from Indian cinema in recent years, an allegory with social, religious, political and moral significance, that looks at some recent events in our history where man turned demon in the name of religion. It takes the story of the Monkeyman that was on the loose in Delhi, creating fear amongst the denizens, as a device to remind us that there is a demon in every one of us, lying dormant until it is awakened by avarice, hate, envy, or for that matter, a complete absence of empathy. Satirical in parts, it brings us face to face with all aspects, good and bad, that makes up the fabric of our diverse culture and customs, setting the action in Delhi 6. Look at yourself and examine everything that is what makes you what you are, and reject the hate, is its simple heart; alas, this is not the kind of film that an Indian cinegoer is accustomed to, and it will come as a shock to his desensitized palate that has been inundated in the near past with inane comedy and thriller potboilers of commerce. Though this simple heart beats strongly throughout the film, it actually reaches an audible level only in the second half, while the first half lacks the required drama, which is the film's only shortcoming. An ode to Old Delhi and humanity combined, this piece of visual prose has Abhishek Bachchan's Roshan holding a mirror up to India ladies and gentlemen, please take a close look, not just at the film but at yourself. In brief, the story is about Roshan (Abhishek Bachchan), a typical young American Indian, who comes down from New York to Delhi 6, the pin code of Chandni Chowk, with his grandmother (played superbly by Waheeda Rehman), as his daadi wishes to die on her own soil. As he accompanies her back, he has absolutely no idea that a mass of confusion and contradictions which is India, is about to creep up on him and embrace him, just like it has done to millions of others, down the ages. Having grown up in a sanitized environment, Roshan is unprepared for the plethora of sights, sounds and smells which assail his senses in Chandni Chowk, where his daadi is welcomed back with open arms. This is the dominant stream of thought which is running through the film, of how Roshan, who came for a few days to Delhi, is loath to go back, as the new familiarity with its magnetic pull works magic slowly, and he falls in love with the denizens of Delhi 6, especially Bittu, played by the enchanting Sonam Kapoor. Ironically, the very social structure of familiarity and bonds which tug at Roshan's heart and makes him want to stay back, is the very structure which is stifling for someone like Bittu, and she is dying to break away and be a free bird. This is the girl that he increasingly falls in love with. It is a gradual process for Roshan, who first views India as a typical tourist and considers stuff like kite flying, eating jalabis, and the Ramleela, pretty exotic, but is slowly sucked into this vortex of contradictions which is India; a place where even today, a sweeper would be considered an untouchable. The film's screenplay, which is written by Mehra himself, along with Kamlesh Pandey and Prasoon Joshi, unfolds at its own pace. There is a sense of unhurried languor about the manner in which the story plays out. The film has many parallel stories running along side the story of Roshan which gives the film its diverse flavour; there is Bittu's story; there is the story of the two brothers (Om Puri & Pawan Malhotra), who have put up a wall in their own home owing to differences, yet having a drink with the wall in-between and missing each other, while their wives are constantly talking to each other through a hole in the wall. There is the story of Uncle Beg (Rishi Kapoor), who still cannot forget his first love, Roshan's mother before her marriage, and is left with only the haveli which she resided in. But bigger than all of this, there is the story of modern India, who like the Kaala Bandar alluded to in the film, has a dark, ugly side to it as well. Delhi 6 is created out of a lot of love and a lot of pain, which comes across in the movie. Both seem to go almost together in the movie as two sides of the same coin. The director manages to hold up a mirror to modern Indian society but it is not probably as scathing as the one in Rang De Basanti. The mood here is subdued but much more complex. What Mehra truly succeeds in doing in this film, is create a wonderful palette with vibrant colours, sounds and characters. It is these which really remain with one long after the movie is over. The characters of Delhi 6 seem to be so alive and so throbbing with feelings and emotions that they are palpable even while one is watching them on screen. These fascinating characters are brought to life by the very accomplished actors who don their colours. The first among them is Waheeda Rehman. She is grace personified and is quite fantastic in the movie. Each of the others like Om Puri, Pawan Malhotra, Vijay Raaz (scintillating as the abusive local cop), Divya Dutta (the untouchable sweeper), and Deepak Dobriyal deliver thundering performances. Rishi Kapoor is impeccable as always. Supriya Pathak, Tanvi Azmi, Atul Kulkarni, Prem Chopra and Cyrus Sahukar, who make up the rest of the supporting cast, also throw in their weight. Getting into further details here would spoil the surprises the film holds, as the characters play out their parts. Of the leading pair, Abhishek Bachchan is in great form and manages to flesh out Roshan extremely well, as the character charters its graph till the dramatic climax, playing him out with truth and honesty. Sonam's Bittu is a perfect foil to Abhishek's Roshan and she lends her role a certain charm and is extremely likeable. One would really like to see a lot more of this actress. Too much has been written about the music of Delhi 6, especially its 'Masakalli' track, which was almost an overnight success. AR Rahman's music is scintillating and besides the 'Masakalli' number, there are other gems in store in the form of 'Rehna Tu', 'Yeh Dilli Hai', 'Maula', 'Genda Phool' and the traditional bhajan. Prasoon Joshi's lyrics perfectly complement the maestro's music. The look of this film is magnificent. Delhi and Chandni Chowk have been the subject of many cameras, and one thought there wasn't anything new to capture but Binod Pradhan proves that belief to be false with his cinematography. It is nothing short of brilliant, the manner in which he negotiates the lanes of Chandni Chowk and captures the oft captured images of monuments like Jama Masjid. Rakeysh Mehra succeeds to a great extent in narrating an absorbing tale in Delhi 6, but it lacks the flawless treatment of his earlier Rang De Basanti. There are places where one feels that the film is meandering. Nonetheless, a brave and ambitious film, it is the lighthouse of Indian cinema in its noble intentions, but on a wider audience acceptability level, its plodding narrative will work against it.
Release Date : 20 February 2009
Banner : UTV Motion Pictures
Director : Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
Cast : Vijay Raaz, Daya Shankar Pandey, Akhilendra Mishra, Pavan Malhotra, Atul Kulkarni, Divya Dutta, Tanvi Azmi, Sheeba Chadha, K. K. Raina, Supriya Pathak, Waheeda Rehman, Abhishek Bachchan, Prem Chopra, Rishi Kapoor, Om Puri, Sonam Kapoor, Deepak Dobriyal, Indrajit Sarkar, Cyrus Sahukar, Aditi Rao Hydari, Geeta Agarwal, Rajiv Mathur, Geeta Bisht
Genre : Drama , Romance