America to Chandni Chowk
Because of the selection rounds for the actors to play Roshan’s character, probably the film might be late by a year or so (and released after other Delhi based films “Black & White”, “Oye Lucky”, “CC2C” and “Dev D”), but the conviction of the D-6 team makes it a delightful watch.
Roshan Mehra (Abhishek), born and brought up in America, lives with his parents Rajan and Fatima (Indrajit Sarkar and Tanvi Azmi) and his grandmother (Waheeda Rehman), who is diagnosed to have a tumor and have little to live. She wants to return to Delhi and live her rest of life at the ancestral place. Rajan had broken up ties with the family in India because everybody, including his father (Amitabh) had opposed to Rajan’s decision of an inter-cast marriage with Fatima, and so he does not want to go there. Roshan, then, takes his grandmother to Delhi, and his journey to his own but unknown country begins.
This journey unfolding into the by-lanes of CC showcases the inter-personal and inter-religion/cast relationships in the current day society. This is so real that one feel like a part of the crowd witnessing it all – the unreasonable sibling rivalry between Madan and Jai (Om Puri and Pawan Malhotra) resulting into a wall (with a hole) within the home, frustration of their unmarried sister Rama (Aditi Rao), hidden family bonding and pakoda exchanges between their wives Vimla and Rajjo (Supriya Pathak and Sheeba Chaddha), Indian-Idol aspirations of Madan’s daughter Bittu (Sonam), uncle Beg (Rishi Kapoor who had lost his lady love Fatima to his best friend Rajan, greedy Lala Bhairam (Prem Chopra) and his ditching wife, supremely corrupt policeman Ranvijay (Vijay Raaz), harfan-maula Gober (Atul Kulkarni), Mamdu Jalebiwala (Deepak Dobrial), Bandarmaar “OK” Baba (Akhilendra Mishra) and the untouchable “during-daylight” Jalebi (Divya Dutta). The story of this hell of an incredible cast is seen from the point-of-view Roshan.
The main thing done differently here is that it’s not a story of a lead pair surrounded by a crowd of supporting cast, but essentially it’s a sigma of character actors (that includes Roshan and Bittu). Politicization and corruption so imbibed in the society, can be seen in – (a) how the live running Ramleela “Seeta Haran” scene is paused at (a late) arrival of a “Sadhvi” and after a welcome speech by the organizer, Shiv ji performs a “Tandav Nritya” in front of the chief guest (b) Roshan (not knowing Indian customs) slapping Ranvijay and goes behind the bar till Beg offers “sarkari kagaz mein lipta hua” paan to Ranvijay (c) age-old faith of celebrating the event of cow giving birth on the main road, and nobody is bothered about the traffic-jam (d) selective untouchability clause on Jalebi by all in the “upper-cast” (e) the black monkey rumor which gets turned into hysterical mania and religious fiasco for the political motives.
Because of offering too much on the platter, the film suffers from the “Aks” effect, i.e. a bit slowed down narrative. But that was expected in a non-thriller autobiography sort of idea. Rakeysh Mehra, Kamlesh Pandey, Prasoon Joshi, Rahman and Binod Pradhan have done a decent assembly.
Performances: Abhishek had a tough job at hand, for just having a page of dialogues at his disposal to cover almost all frames of the movie, and he does a decent job. Sonam looks fabulous and believable as the next-door inspirational teenager. Each and every performer (except an unnecessarily over-the-top Cyrus) delivers exceptionally well. Masakali remains the topmost (silent) performer and star attraction.
Music: The album is a winner all the way. All songs have been written, composed and sung with perfection. Hoping that the makers release the director’s cut DVD with the full songs in it.