Delhi 6 is a great attempt by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra to capture India, in its myriad forms. When a filmm-maker makes a film based on his convictions and wants to convey a message, it's unlikely that everyone will like it. When I went to watch Delhi 6, I had already read most of the reviews and some of them had very little good to say about the movie. This movie proves once again, how important it is, to watch the movie and decide for yourself, rather than follow a handful of critics with their own inherent biases, as someone's Slumdog is another person's millionaire.
With Delhi 6, the Director has moved one step forward from Rang De Basanti, which was steeped in idealism and involved some preaching and sort of pushing for a forceful solution. With Delhi 6, Rakeysh prods us to look for the solution within ourselves and talks about universal religion which says, that God resides in each human being and in the eyes of God, there is no discrimination.
Now, about the film...enough has been said about Abhishek's (Roshan) accent...though, I didn't find anything wrong with it. There are people like Roshan all around us. Don't we have friends, who go to US on a project for a year or less, and come back with an accent? Though, must say...his Hindi is quite free of any accent. Waheeda Rehman is simply superb in her role as Roshan's Dadi and it shows, that the graceful heroines of yesteryears may still have a place on the silver screen. And Sonam...how much she has traveled from the dark streets in Sawaariya to the brightness of Delhi 6. She looks like, she has reinvented herself in the movie. With all her mannerisms, expressions and moves, she is the quintessential Delhi girl. Her expression when the guy comes to see her for marriage proposal, and she has to serve tea against her wishes was one such great moment. Or, when she pretends to commit suicide by consuming rat poison and Roshan thinks, she was serious. In an old Hindi movie, the heroine would have done that, but not any more. Now, she is much too smarter to take her life like this, when she can actually take control of it. Delhi 6, somehow also symbolises living on the edges of the metro, where a metro ride can convert her from the simple homely girl to a cool college going gil, who doesn't mind doing a jig in the metro station or showing a piercing on her navel. These are all characters from our daily lives, where youth have to live a dual identity, one at home and the other in front of their friends / peer group.
The movie talks about the many small things that make up our lives. Think of the cows strolling aimlessly on the roads and causing a traffic jam. The situation is built in such a nice manner, that it puts a smile on your face. On one side, Waheeda is being rushed to the hospital and the roads are so narrow, that a cycle rickhsaw seems to be the fastest mode of transport and there, her Holy Highness is giving birth to a calf in the middle of the street. And some people start worshipping the Holy moment. Wonder of all...Dadi gets down from the rickshaw and offers her prayers, too and gets miraculously healed. In India, people just adapt and accommodate. No one really objects. Is this Rakeysh's realization from the experience of so many candle light vigils which followed RDB, but little follow through affirmative action?
Jalebi (Divya Dutt), remains the untouchable during the day and faces usual harrassment in hands of the police and upper caste in the society. We see, how an imaginary character, the Monkeyman assumes a big role in our society and how, easily anything and everything is given a communal or political touch, where both communities claim the mysterious Monkeyman to be from the other side and an attempt to embarrass / harm them. And all in the name of the unknown and undefined enemy, people draw battlelines. When people from all faith, have been co-existing together for centuries, small issues are blown out of proportion to create a divide. Don't we see this happening, in our India, every day? Delhi 6 also talks about our superstitions, beliefs and power of rumour, when truth takes a back seat to our imaginary and creative minds. The relation between the families of two fighting brothers, Madan Gopal (Om Puri) and Jai Gopal (Pavan Malhotra) also breaks the stereotypes.
Cyrus Sahukar in the role of Suresh, the photographer is also a typical character, looking for opportunities and luring unassuming people with hope for a brighter future, breaking away from their usual routine lives. Indian Idol is also nicely integrated into the story which captures the imagination of thousand youngsters as shortcut to fame and opportunity to rise above mediocrity. Though, the ending in the movie was bit in haste, especially how Roshan manages to get the costume of Monkeyman and also the fast dawn of realization among the group, I still couldn't help but applaud Rakeysh and the team to make such a relevant movie for today's times. To mix entertainment with a social message, and not sound like Govt. of India ad is like walking a tight rope. Delhi 6 has managed to do it well, for me.
Of course, the music of the movie by A.R.Rahman (now, of Oscar fame) is superb and blends seamlessly with the story and characters, including Masakali, the dove. There's one for each mood and occasion.
Somehow, Delhi 6 also reminded me of recently released, Shyam Benegal's Welcome to Sajjanpur. Both comment on our society at large. And to some extent, the reaction from critics to both the movie says it all. In Delhi, or in India, we're happy to look away from ourselves for the causes behind real issues in our lives. If you don't get the message with the first watch, I strongly recommend, you watch it again.