Friday, February 20, 2009

DILLI 6: A honest film falters

Hum sab par bhootsawaar nahi hai, bus kabhi kabhi bandhar bante hai ..
- a dialogue to that effect from Abhishek Bachchan in Delhi 6

Zarre zarre mein usi ka noor hai
Jhaank khud mein wo na tujhse door hai
Ishq hai usse to sabse ishq kar
Ishq hai usse to sabse ishq kar
Is ibaadat ka yahi dastoor hai
Is mein us mein aur us mein hai wohi
Is mein us mein aur us mein hai wohi
Yaar mera har taraf bharpoor hai

Delhi 6 is the kind of film that evokes comments like ‘I told you no, serious subjects are not to be made into films, they are only for documentaries!’. These self-proclaimed pundits think movies are always about entertainment and anyone failing in an endeavor to make a meaningful movie makes them feel vindicated and inexplicably happy! This is one such occasion; Delhi 6 is a noble failure, thanks to the writers.

How I wished Rakeysh Omprakrash Mehra would make these pundits eat their own words as he made them do with his ‘Rang De Basanti! Phew, It is not to be and not because Mehra did not have his heart in the right place. His passion and honesty are very much evident in the way he put together the many details of the microcosm that is Old Delhi. His vision is evident in the analogy he picks up with Ramayana and in the metaphors like the Kaala Bandhar and the mirror of the fakir. I don’t believe audience is so naive that they can’t get these abstract things as the pundits want us to believe. This very subtlety and analogy was very much there in ‘Rang De..’ and the audience understood and embraced it. However, ‘Rang De..’ rode on the collective public angst blaming ‘others’ – the corrupt politicians, comparing them with the erstwhile alien rulers. Here, in Delhi 6, we are asked to look within for the Kaala Bandhar. This could be hard to digest :). But the problem is not as much with this message, for it is well-intentioned and without being preachy as it is with the way Mehra tried to convey it.

Mehra lumped up details and ignored that there needs to be a thread to carry the movie from the beginning to the end. So the audience can be excused for wondering what the movie is all about before the second half. Instead of unraveling all the dark sides within us – the Kaala Bandhar, in the second half in one go, he should have worked out gray shades in the characters right in the first half. This would have facilitated to the second half smoothly and would have made the distrust and the riots look real and not abrupt. The first half should have been shorter and more focused.

The script was flawed as it took too long a time (the entire first half of the movie) to establish the milieu and not the characters. The love between the protagonists has not been handled well. Abhishek Bachchan is badly written for and he appeared equally unprepared for an American character. While Sonam Kapoor makes an impression, the lanky VijayRaaz appears menacing in his stunning portrayal.

More than anything else, the blasphemy is how the otherwise stunning music has been treated in this movie. Thanks to the lack of thematic flow in the film, here comes one of the poorest background score of AR Rahman. Its understandable if AR Rahman did not feel soulful. Songs were truncated and picturization of ‘Masakkali..did not do justice to that excellent score. Some of AR Rahman's best work goes down the drain.

In the end, despite the flaws, it’s hard to miss the honesty of the movie. The analogies and the metaphors work well and movie conveys the idea that our Masses are basically well-meaning but do become Bandar now and then quite successfully. We are not bhoot or unchangeable fanatics. We are likeable and understanding but are done in mostly by our hypocrisies and our fears (of the unknown). This creates the hopeful picture of us, gullible Masses as emendable. This otherwise complex idea has been conveyed beautifully without lengthy dialogues and with subtlety. This is where Delhi 6 succeeds in its core. If only it were more carefully scripted, it would have been an enjoyable fare and would have appealed to a wider audience.

A movie requires more than just honesty to succeed. It should be well-made. But then, Delhi 6 ranks much above all those well-made movies, flooding the theatres these days, which don’t even have pretence of honesty.


Raghavendra Keesari said...

hi, As this i a good message oriented movie, definitely there would be limited scope
for other sectors such as, entertainment, etc, but still the director had done a
good job, coming to the movie, i felt, the first half, is more similar to Swades, to me
Swades is more appealing than Delhi6, i can watch swades once again but Delhi6
i cant, it doesnt mean that i am fan of SRK, or ashutosh, i am a fan of a good movie,
what i want to say is that the movie cant get a repeated audience, the movie looked
more of a documentary made on streets of Chandni chowk, the music is appealing
but the director failed in its optimum utilising, regarding characters,they were too many
trying to overact, Abhi was boring with his foreign accent, the only grace to the movie
are the two ladies, Bittu (heroine) and her Rama Bua (Pretty simple), the message
is good, i liked it a lot, (which i dont want to disclose), without which, the movie
would be very pale, overall, the movie is ok, passable.

sachin said...

Hey Amar,

I must confess that I have enjoyed the movie. I liked the way, Roshan, a lad from America arrives in Delhi and he is introduced to our culture.
To me Dilli - 6 is like a mirror of todays society. It shows how susceptible we are towards religion. One guy walks in and ignites our emotions, in which we tend to run like a mad bull.
yeah music wise I think director failed to utilise a r rahman. Despite of good music it failed to mark an impression on the people who were watching movie without having heard the songs. I was waiting for maula .. but it appeared only in bits and pieces.