Delhi 6: Mehra’s mirror has many faces

February 20, 2009

At the end of the first half of “Delhi 6″, a friend messaged me to ask what I thought of the film.

“I like it so far,” I told him, “but I don’t see where this is going.”

 

I am so happy that Rakeysh Mehra did show me where he was going in the second half.

 

He weaves a cohesive story from a million plots, tells us a modern parable for our times and extracts some great performances from an ensemble cast — and he did it all in the best place possible — Delhi.

 

Like I said, Mehra tells us myriad stories in this film, but the main strand is that of Roshan (Abhishek Bachchan), who is introduced to the madness of Old Delhi on a trip home with his ailing grandmother.

 

The first half of the film is filled with colourful characters and we are introduced to them slowly as Roshan is, each revealing layers as the film progresses. There is no background — we are left to decipher these people for ourselves.

Also, for a large part of the film there isn’t a plot. It just seems like a lot of stories being told at the same time.

 

There are the warring brothers who live on two sides of the same wall, their wives who bond through a loose brick in the wall, the police inspector, a jalebi wallah, two adorable kids (watch out for the scene with Divya Dutta’s character and the two kids) and then there is Bittu.

Bittu is a Chandni Chowk girl who wants more. She wears salwar suits at home, changing into halter tops and wearing lipstick outside. She speaks chaste Hindi and calls Roshan “burger chaap”.

She also dreams of becoming something more, expressed in her desire to be the next ‘Indian Idol’, because she tells Roshan that’s the only way for a middle-class girl to achieve fame.

 

There is also mention of the monkey man menace, portrayed though grainy images on television (Mehra makes an astute comment on the media revolution in the country) and it’s talked about by almost every character. Watch how this seemingly minor plotline delivers the film’s main message.

 

Like I said, the first half seemingly meanders along several stories but Mehra ties up every thread in the end. It all comes together to tell us a modern fable for our times.

 

Mehra pays great attention to detail, and brilliantly uses the medium of the Ram Leela, played out on the grounds of the Old Fort to depict each major turning point in the film.

 

His love for the winding, cacophonous lanes of Old Delhi is reflected in every frame. Binod Pradhan’s camera prances, crawls and almost caresses these lanes, showing us a Delhi far removed from any preconceived notions you might have had of this city.

 

Sonam Kapoor has a great screen presence and does well in her scenes. Waheeda Rehman is luminous as Roshan’s grandmother. Every other cast member, from Deepak Dobriyal to Om Puri, Supriya Pathak, Atul Kulkarni and Vijay Raaz — they are all brilliant.

 

Bachchan, as the detached onlooker who gets sucked into his environment delivers one of his best performances. Watch out for him in the scene where he holds up a mirror to everyone — it is difficult not to be moved.

 

If there are any flaws, I would say Mehra tries to tell you too many stories at once, he could have done with a little less. Rishi Kapoor’s character for one and Rehman’s plot seem to get lost somewhere. Also, I wish he had chosen a different ending.

 

I won’t say more, except that this is a film that goes beyond the usual plotlines and characters to say so much more. Mehra holds up a mirror to each one of us and it is up to everyone to reflect on the image we see in it.

 

 

13 comments

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I agree with you Shilpa, the climax has been treated really badly. In spite of the too many characters and stories he introduces, first half is interesting. However, this requires a great deal of attention from the audience and some prior knowledge, and love, for Delhi will be of help. Apart from taking the story forward, he goes into preaching mode in second half. Thankfully, it is not misplaced as was the case with Rang De Basanti.
Cinematography is awesome and so is set design, lyrics and music.
People who go to the theatre for three hours of pure entertainment will not like the movie due to their casual approach. While exiting the hall I overheard one such guy comparing Delhi 6 to “Drona” and “Kisna”.

Posted by AA | Report as abusive

What a waste of time and money for all concerned. I thought that Abhishek would have learnt from the catastrophy of Drona. but no. He continues to torture us even further.
Manoj Bajpai should have been cast in the lead role.

Posted by Shantanu | Report as abusive

I watched Delhi-6 on thursday before its release.. It was surprise premier show for 160 invities. delhi-6 is a completely north india kind of movie in which Rakeysh shown all the true colour of our Chandani Chouk, our pepole and their nature of reaction. I dont beleive in star rating and reviews by pepole like us. If I m spending rs 250.00 and I enjoyed the movie then that movie is HIT for me.. Delhi-6 is a good movie with great performance by AB, Sonam and every character of the movie. Music is no doubt excellent, Cinematography is awesome and trust me all the things were in the right place.. So, watch it and see the real north Indian movie.

Posted by Deepak Singh | Report as abusive

delhi-6 is a masterpiece each part of film making is at best … its for the society.. I remember one dialogue of Joker from the movie “The Dark Knight ” “Madness is Like Gravity..All It Takes is a Little Push …” this film just revel the state of everyone ..tell society that ” Use Your Head …
Also I can see a King Kong type situation in the movie.. :)
Its a great stuff .. I liked it pretty much ..

Posted by Shubham | Report as abusive

U Cant base ur climax on kala bandar.its not convincing.rakesh cud hav used somthng else 2 shocase communalism and his rabidly anti BJP polemic.its a badly scriptd movie and bettr pruning work

Posted by anand | Report as abusive

Great Movie, Enjoyed every bit. Abhishek acting was very mature and made us all remember of Amitabh day’s. Just when we thought, movies which made sense and which sends a message are gone, comes Delhi 6 rocking for all Indians. Was a TREAT ! ! !. Sensible people will love this film !

Posted by Raj | Report as abusive

I was thoroughly disappointed with “Delhi 6.” Besides Abhishek Bachchan’s acting and a brilliant score by AR Rahman I was left feeling sorry for all the brilliant actors who were not allowed to prove themselves due to a weak storyline.
The one track I was hoping would be developed was the most underplayed one- the love story between Roshan and Bittu. The promos of the film were misleading. I hope Rakeysh Mehra does make a romantic film next to make up for the lack of one in “Delhi 6.”

Posted by Sakshi | Report as abusive

5 stars to you again, as good a film as RDB loved the moments shot in the film.what an amazing director no other director could give life to every character in this film even a two liner gobar had a serious impact on me.
Wonderfull message said in the movie look into yourself and find god in each and every human aur sab tere hi yaar honge.
World will become such a beautiful place.Well paced movie connecting all the three plots in the movie The ramleela,Kala bandar, and the Love story which at the end junior A.B sacrifices himself for others lives.I hope the critics would have seen these beautiful things in the movie rather than comenting on costumes and irrelevamt things like A.B’s accent in the movie………..I really had moist eyes in scenes like when A.b tells every body what the fakhir is saying always”zarre zarre pe usi ka noor hai……”.
Cinematography of masakkali is done amazingly well……..There are so many scenes to be discussed in the movie which will be never ending….Keep Going Rakyesh .O. Mehera…..As far as the ending is concerned a director would had finished the movie as Junior A.B is shot and let the audience think over it and it would have been critically acclaimed but we indians make positive films with happy endings so it was apt from the directors side…..i think the people who didnt like the movie remove the Kala Bandar out of Themselves and watch the movie again…..

Posted by Elliot.Coutinho | Report as abusive

I went to watch the movie with gr8 hope.I wont at all say I am disappointed.The best part of the movie is the music score,realization of the true Delhi,a subtle yet charming touch of Indian culture & of course a misunderstanding leading to the destroyal of long cherished neighbourhood relationship and eventually a riot.Another part is the mirror which actually has lots to say.Go listen to it.

Posted by Moumita | Report as abusive

I expect a lots more from the director of Rang De Basanti ! Simple, but again, I felt so because I expected a lots more because it was from the director of Rang De Basanti :)

Posted by bollywoodia | Report as abusive

I totally disagree. Delhi-6 promises lots, but delivers very little. Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra loses the plot, quite literally. What could have been a warm film about people and their fight to stave off their inner hatred instead becomes a message movie with a ending slammed on to your face. The ensemble cast is largely wasted, and while Abhishek does try to do justice to his role, he is totally let down by the weak script. What is worse, A R Rahman’s music, which is by far the best part about the film, is not done justice to by the way the songs have been picturised. After the superb Rang De Basanti, Delhi 6 is comes as a huge, huge disappointment.

Posted by Sourav | Report as abusive

I don;t know Y people are telling that it is superb movie?
lemme ask few Q’s. I leave in INDIA 4 25 years and I have seen neighbours, chal, small lanes, Jalebi {both ;-)}riots. Being human with common sense I knw riots is wrong..following ur aim is good..lov all people..no discrimination..bla bla. n I thin every Indian resident knows it. So no new feelings..N m sure it’s ONLY mov stars who cn bcm KALA BANDAR..not WE ( even yes, a very very few)
So considering all this..average time pass mov n yeh MUSIC is good n versatile lyrics..

Posted by pranav | Report as abusive

total waste of time and money.
Mehra should geve back the money people have put to see this movie.
I dont understand what he was trying to show.
We do understand that fear and faith is with in us, there was no need to show this stupid kala bandar story.
simply disgusting !!!!