Friday, February 20, 2009

Delhi 6 film review

Delhi highs and lows

Director: Rakeysh Mehra
Starring: Abhishek Bachchan, Sonam Kapoor, Waheeda Rahman, Om Puri, Rishi Kapoor, Divya Dutta, Deepak Dobriyal, Vijay Raaz, Pawan Malhotra among others
Showting At
: City Pride (Kothrud, Satara), Gold Big Cinemas, E-Square, Inox, Mangala, Rahul

Much like his last Rang De Basanti, Rakeysh Mehra’s latest, Delhi 6 boasts of great many things that make you sit up and take note of it. For starters, there’s his trademark visual panache and his ability to build characters well. Not to add, a splendid music score by A R Rahman that is possibly right up there as one of his best works.
Yet, much like Rang De Baanti and Aks even, Mehra appears far too simplistic and confusing with his story, thereby making his concepts appear quite half-baked.
At least with Rang De Basanti (even with a very problematic ending), the anarchist resolution connected well with the youth, and tapped into their disenchantment with the political system in the country. Unfortunately, Delhi 6 has none of that urgency and takes up general issues like casteism, the Hindi-Muslim conflict, orthodoxy using Chandni Chowk as an archetype for India as a whole.

NRI Roshan (Abhishek Bachchan) accompanies his ailing grandma (Waheeda Rahman) to Delhi 6, where she wants to spend the rest of her days amidst people and places she’s known. The film beautifully captures the smells and sights of the place and Roshan, as the unobtrusive visitor, captures it on his mobile. Mehra does a fine job with his ensemble cast and the setting is truly electrifying. There’s a constant vein of humour that runs in the film and that makes the movie eminently watchable, even if you’re conscious that the movie isn’t really going anywhere.
Many of idiosyncrasies and even outright regressiveness that some of the characters exhibit becomes palatable solely due to presence of ‘outsider’ Roshan – whose reactions – raging from amusement to shock –is an easy character to relate for youngsters.

It is the film’s key metaphor of the ‘Kala Bandar’ episode (the monkey man incident that caused intense fear in Delhi) that fails to make an impact. Apart from the fact that it’s old hat, Mehra has not been able to incorporate it well into the story. This results in the film pretty much falling apart in the second half, getting overly preachy and pointless.

Now, RDB itself wasn’t very focused story-telling, but it was still on course till the pre climax struck. Delhi 6 is more scattered, happy to linger on, offering mostly vignettes in the form of episodes of the Chandni chowk inhabitants and you’re happy to watch it (thanks to some brilliant performances) for a long time. But once the setting is grilled into you, there’s very little to look forward to in terms of story.

Among the cast, Abhishek Bachchan does well, though a wee bit too understated and unremarkable as a character. Sonam is very good but she doesn’t have much to do here. In fact, her’s and Abhishek’s love story is hardly fleshed out. The rest of the cast comes up with outstanding performances.
In fact, the character actors and Rahman’s music should be your only reason to check out this otherwise underwhelming film.

Rating: **1/2

-Sandhya Iyer