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Delhi-6 – Movie Review

Now, where do I start? With Binod Pradhan’s amazing cinematography that gives you an authentic taste of Old Delhi? Or with A.R. Rahman’s brilliant music? Or with Rakeysh Mehra and his team’s soul searching story and script? Or with his handling of the subject? I have run out of adjectives. Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra is a genius. Mind you, it is nice to just have your heart in the right place but it is sheer genius to be able to pull of such involving story-telling and combining it with a wishful fantasy to leave you with a sweet taste at the end.

Yes, he is a genius but I’ve got the hang of his trick. I guess, he started off with similar tale of good vs. evil with Aks. Though Aks was innovative cinema, its unreal storyline put a lot of people off. The story telling and performances were appreciated but the message was lost. With RDB and Dilli-6, he’s employed past or current events as Metaphors to justify the fantasy, without compromising with the ‘real’ movie. This combined with his excellent direction makes his movies a real treat.

Confused? Let me explain – In RDB, Bhagat Singh’s story was used as the Metaphor to draw parallels to the current story and in Dilli-6, the black monkey episode which caused a lot of scares (and a few laughs) in Delhi few years back as the Metaphor to denote the evil within each one of us. Though it is a notch lower than RDB, it still is a master piece, coz. RDB was anyways a few notches above the highest rung on the ladder.

Roshan (AB), American NRI lands in Delhi accompanying his granny (Waheeda Rehman) as she’s suffering from an incurable tumor and wishes to spend her last few days at home. He lands smack in the middle of Old Delhi and is obviously amused by the chaos. At this point, I’ve to mention Binod Pradhan. His camera gives you a real taste of Old Delhi, the loads of people within the narrow streets, the mesh of cables overhead, the jalebi stores and the rickshaws, the Jama Masjid and the ramleela frolick, all of this almost makes me want to go back home. Especially when he gets up to the early morning light on his terrace… Blissful! You’ll know what I mean if you’ve ever slept on a terrace under the sky. Anybody with even a breath of Delhi’s air in his/her lungs would love this movie.

Wherever the camera falls short, Rahman’s magical score fills in. There are a lot of goose bump moments in the first half with Rahman’s music doing the honours. Be it the mass of men bowing down to the call of the Jama Masjid in Arziyaan or Abhishek listening to the title track on his morning run. You can’t but be addicted to the music.

He has a whale of a time with the neighbors, the ramleela and all the fanfare. The director also gives ample space to the other characters – the fighting brothers, their kids who are fascinated by the cleaning lady, the helper Gobar, the crazy Inspector, the old Lala and his young wife, the uncle Baig, the photographer Suresh and the cleaning lady Jalebi, all together, they make up one hell of a neighborhood. Of course, there also is the pretty lass Bittu (Sonam) who dreams of becoming the next Indian Idol. How can you not be amused with characters like these all around. There is plenty of fun and laughs all round amongst talks of the black monkey striking neighborhoods in Delhi.

Finally, it’s the turn of Delhi-6 to be stalked by the black monkey. This is of course the metaphor for the evil within each one of the characters. It doesn’t take long for the landscape to be polarized on religious lines and Roshan being the result of a mixed marriage finds himself in no man’s land. In one of the moments, he does what loads of Indians have actually done and would keep doing, run away to a safer heaven, go back to America, but then the director’s fantasy takes over and he decides to stay.

I believe, today there isn’t a more important issue in our country, than the religious polarization of India’s landscape. Rakeysh seems to be fulfilling his responsibility as a film maker superbly by doing his bit. He fits the backdrop of the Ramleela with his story of the black monkey superbly. Yes, it gets a bit preachy near the end when AB tries to talk some sense into the crowds and Yes, it does tread on wishful thinking during the climax but I guess, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra wants you to come out of the hall with hope and not disappointment. I would be definitely saddened if he would’ve done anything otherwise.

The performances of the entire cast are adequate, neither too loud, nor understated. I can’t single out any character for an outstanding performance. Everyone is just right, but yes, I have to single out Sonam Kapoor for her sweet endearing smile.

The movie touches all the right cords within you in a manner that only Rakeysh Mehra seems to comprehend. It is entertaining and satisfying. I can’t understand what critics who are writing this movie off, looking for? Why is being a tad preachy such a crime?

And though it’s like visiting an often repeated tale again, if Rahman gets a Golden Globe for Slumdog, I guess, they should fall flat and name the award after him for Dilli-6. Hollywood musicians would be thanking God, Rahman wasn’t born amongst them. And click here if you want to see his youngest and craziest fan.

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