Delhi – 6 : The Movie Review – and being Rakyesh Omprakash Mehra

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Its always interesting to review a movie such as Delhi 6 which has invoked such mixed reactions. So I am sure I am going to enjoy writing this review as much you are going to read it! :P

Being born in the heart of Delhi – 6 (Chandini Chowk / Old Delhi) is no mean feat on its own. Being born there with a name that reads, Rakyesh Om Prakash Mehra makes it all the more difficult.

Rakyesh is the man who has given us Aks and more importantly the iconic Rang De Basanti. RDB made me and probably a good chunk of the youth think and look beyond the oblivion of our lives and made us more responsible, more thinking – somewhere in the subconscious it made me respect the man who got us RDB – a generation awakened. RDB was sorta Classic.

An RDB doesn’t happen every year – agreed. Butt, there is a big one out there! The evolution and thus the expectations just can’t stop. The hunger and the thirst just grow.

Anyways, let’s be modest with our expectations as we all know that Delhi 6 isn’t in the same league – however, it still doesn’t suggest if it’s poor cinema. Let’s see what works and what doesn’t.

No harm in starting with what works. Yes, if something works beyond any doubts whatsoever: that’s Delhi 6’s music. Rehman does a good job sinking in the movie and giving us tracks which is just not restricted to the brilliant Masakali and Dilli 6. If you are sensitive to music you may even find Genda Phool and the Aarti equally enchanting. Rehman very successfully creates music which sounds contemporary, yet is full of old world soul – and interestingly sounds very local. Not to forget, Prasoon pens down lyrics which radiate the vibes of Purani Dilli – trust me its difficult doing so as the place has a culture not really found anywhere else. Enough of discussing Rehman and Prasoon – we surely have come to terms with them – they almost every time pleasantly surprise us with what they come up with. I just hope that they continue with their good work. The movie does not have an anthem number – as it could never have one. It’s difficult to fit a Paathshala here. It’s a fact we must understand as only this would help us appreciate the simplicity and subtlety of the music.

Let’s get into difficult territory now. Music was the high-point where in it is quite likely that there would be consensus of sorts. So let’s explore where that may not be the case. The movie was built on ideas and the Kaala Bandar was supposed to drive things home. As awkward as it sounds is what reflects on the screen too.

Abhishek (a second generation Indian American) gets his Grand-Mom home (Dilli-6) as she is anticipating her death. India is a revelation of sorts form him. He finds a lot of issues around that people need to fix. So he comes as the change agent who eventually becomes the sacrificial lamb for a greater cause. Too idealistic, for some; but this is what the movie is about.

Rakyesh is not just another film maker – we undeniably agree to it; so it does not come as a surprise that he wants to communicate to his audience – he just doesn’t want his movies to remain a monologue. He wants us to think and take his movies out of the theater and to discuss it on the streets and our homes too. He is social revolutionist of sorts. He tries to touch the entire canvas of the contemporary problems in our country - Caste conflicts, communal divide, corrupt political system, dowry, dysfunctional social infrastructure, economic disparities, moral policing, sensationalism in media, sexual repression and exploitation, suppression of the girl child, superstitions and more...

But this time around the revolutionist nearly fails in execution despite the technical brilliance that the movie exudes. The weakest links are the Story, Screenplay and the Lead Actor. The story telling just doesn’t work this time. It fails to keep you glued. It just does not have the moments. Abhishek fails miserably in what he does – all you have his empathy for him as you see him as the nice guy – which just isn’t enough.

He irritates you with a faker accent than you can imagine – but it would be very mean and superficial of me to make it the yardstick. He is carrying the movie on his shoulders so they better be capable. Interestingly all the sidekicks (I know that sounds derogatory for the wonderful cast ensemble that the movie boasts of) do more than what was expected of them but they can’t make up for the lead (else why would you call the lead, the lead!!) Taking names would be an injustice to the rest – so I would take all… Sheeba Chaddha, Prem Chopra, Deepak Dobriyal, Divya Dutta, Rishi Kapoor, Atul Kulkarni, Pavan Malhotra, Supriya Pathak, Om Puri, Vijay Raaz, K.K. Raina, Aditi Rao (oh my my, she is cute in her Sari clad avatar) and Cyrus Sahukar – nearly everyone has a small story which gives movie whatever little it has for the viewers.

Abhishek somehow fails to grow beyond the nice guy who has come down from the US to his roots. He is supposed to be the change agent – but just somehow doesn’t fit too well. Partly it’s his failure; partly it is Rakyesh’s. While Abhishek failed in delivering, Rakyesh failed in developing the lead. I am not competent enough to tell you what it should have been like – but I can surely tell you the ideas just did not get onto the screen successfully. Kaala Bandar has a louder presence than it should have had – it rips the movie of its sensitivities while it gives some of it. Maybe, Kaala Bandar was not the right choice to weave the story around. I don’t know if it were; but it somehow does not work.

I am not considering Sonam to be in the lead, because in all honesty she is not. In my humble opinion, playing the love interest of the lead does not make you another lead. She is a part of the sidekicks - who has been blessed with longer screen presence as she is our Hero’s sweetheart. This is surely not to question Sonam’s performance. She does what she is expected to; and that too at an acceptable level. She is cute, chirpy and a rebel within with her feet on the ground, yet hopes high in the sky.

Binod’s Camerawork is top notch – makes the movie easy on the eyes especially the songs – the simplicity remains the biggest virtue.

The most bizarre part of the movie was the presence of Amitabh Bachchan: you wonder whether Amitabh was the obvious choice or was he forced upon the script.

The movie as a whole is a mixed bag – there would be definitive reasons to like it as would be to find it loose and disoriented.

At the end of everything we tend to feel being Rakyesh isn’t easy. When the entire world is watching, he has to put his best foot forward.

I used to think, to err is Human, but not when your name is Rakyesh Om Prakash Mehra! ;)

The ratings would not be able to give true representation to what the movie deserves [coz for me its between 1 and 4 stars out of 5 on different parameters]. I would want you to rate and reason it. Please leave a comment especially if you have a rating in your mind!


Kunal Datar - Mumbai said...

hey "sensible garbage".... awesm review... ur language skills r real good...!!! keep up the good work... n plz... in ur next reviews... dont ever forget to write about the story in short... it may happen that someone reading ur review... may want to know whether its worth spending all the money... to c the movie (u know how much a movie ticket costs in a multiplex on a weekend)...

n do consider writing a review for new age plays... theater in general... coz

1. rather than writing about movies... that anyway get written about by scores of ppl... why not review for theater... who hardly anyone writes for

2. a movie... review n point of view... can be based a lot on the person's individual like / dislike about the lead artist... coz there is so much media hype / pr.. around it... but theater review.. wud be a truly unbiased one... i guess...!!

but all in all... keep up the good work... awsm reviews... i liked the gajhni one too... will make it a point to read ur reviews regularly...

Nikhil said...

Agreed, the movie is not great when you compare it to RDB. But, if you watch the movie skipping a few songs here and there, it makes a great watch!

@ your comment on Abhishek's fake accent - After having seen several ABCDs around, I'd say that he has a reasonable job!

- Your frequent blog visitor :)

Natasha said...

Awesome film and loved the songs specially Dil Gira Dafatan, where Mehra has amalgamated Chandi Chowk & New York...brilliant.

Sensible Garbage said...

Thanks for all the encouragement. Very valid suggestions. All accepted. Though reviewing plays is not going to be easy as we rarely get to catch plays.
However, I must admit that our reviews are written in a style that aims people who have generally seen the movie and it's more like taking the movie out of the theater and discussing it.

I haven't judged Abhishek solely upon his accent - as I accept that it would be grossly unfair to do so.

It is so heartening to know that you visit the blog often. Please continue doing that! We love to hear from you...

Very interesting observation - The amalgamation makes you think - it surely made the character played by Abhishek think! It was so much more than just visual effects... it sort of connects you to the roots!

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