In an impatient age, Delhi 6 takes its time to warm up to its audience. Lacking any significant plot, we are treated to assorted vignettes of life in and around the bylanes of Chandni Chowk, and when the real story does kick in, it actually proves to be quite a (monkey) menace. Under every man lies a bandar, Darwin Mehra Saab repeatedly insists, even as the film runs asunder. We wonder and gape as he goes on and yawn about a silly Dilli ape.
Yet, there is something about Delhi 6 that still holds you even as it inevitably disappoints. Because even amidst all the chaos, as Roshan Mehra (Abhishek Bachchan- dependably solid and restrained, despite an annoying burgerchaap accent) says in one of the few lines in the film that are cheesier than anything at McDonald's- 'The people make it work.'
They're all stock characters, mind you- but it is the actors inhabiting them that make them special and draw you in with their warmth- forgive this minor mention of a cast that deserves reams of raves- but Waheeda Rehman, Om Puri, Rishi Kapoor, Deepak Dobriyal, Divya Dutta, Vijay Raaz, Atul Kulkarni, Aditi Rao Hydari and anyone I may have missed in oversight (save for Cyrus Sahukar who sticks out like a Kaala Bandar) can take a huge bow. Wow. And Sonam Kapoor is endearingly vivacious and vulnerable- and as cute as a button. Even Benjamin will vouch for that.
There is some beautifully etched dialogue here, and while Rahman's magical music is appallingly underutilized (the staging of the hypnotic Dil Gira Dafatan made my heart sink), each word written in this film- in lyric or prose- is straight from the heart. Binod Pradhan mesmerizes yet again after Rang De Basanti, and his beautifully lit and composed frames move fluidly and seamlessly, quite unlike the film itself.
Whether it's the Monkey-man or Masakalli- metaphorical mayhem reins supreme, as Mehra and Kamlesh Pandey stretch simplistic symbolism way too far. The build up to the climax (which almost redefines ridiculousness) is way too underdeveloped, and the sudden burst of dreary and preachy drama leaves you as numb and cold as Dilli ki Sardi.
Still, I recommend you give Delhi 6 a dekko, but sans the great expectations. Like life, it isn't perfect- and it's the little things that make it special and worth experiencing.