Sunday, February 22, 2009

Delhi-6 - Afterthoughts

The crusade continues. Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra continues providing insight on socio-political issues of India with Delhi-6. The movement started with Rang De Basanti continues with Delhi-6.

RDB brought to light the power of media and the power of the middle class. The 'candle marches' as a means of protest started gaining prominence. With Delhi-6, Rakeyesh comes up with another tool - a quaint old mirror. I wouldn't be surprised, if i read that there was a 'mirror march' to highlight solidarity and unity after a communal tension.

The film is full of symbolisms. First, the central character of the film - 'kaala bandar' is a symbol. 'Kaala bandar', which is nowhere shown in the movie, is described as the culprit of all communal problems. 'Kaala bandar' is that invisible, intangible element in each one of us that causes people to fight against people. . In the movie, by having Roshan (Abhishek Bachchan) - disguised as 'kaala bandar' - shot which pacified the rioteers, Mehra proposes that killing the 'kaala bandar' in ourselves shall end the communal tension.

Masakali, a bird, is also used as a symbol. Madangopal (Om Puri) loves this bird so much that he has tied it up so that it cannot fly and be with him. Bittu (Sonam Kapoor), his daughter, wants to be independent - wants to make her own mark. She wants to be an 'Indian Idol'. But Madangopal, like any middle class indian father, wants to marry her off. Roshan, who was brought up in the US, finds this similar to Masakali's plight and suggests Bittu to snap the tie and fly away.

The role of media, which was shown in positive light in RDB, was shown to be negetive in D-6. From the starting of the movie, the news channels were creating hype about the invisible 'kaala bandar'. I was thinking, if the bandar was invisible, how could it be 'kaala'? Or for that matter, how could it be a bandar? The news channels were shown to be more interested in sensationalism rather than in plain 'news'.

I really loved the nomenclatures. First, the movie title. Mehra and company could have named this movie 'Chandani Chowk' instead of Delhi-6 as both meant the same. The former would have had more recall-value. Remember how cliched 'Chandani Chowk to China' (dekha hai kabhi tune aina) sounded? But, by choosing Delhi-6, Mehra announced that his movie was different. Also, the name given to Abhishek's character was apt. Roshan is both a Hindu as well as a Muslim name. It suited well given that his father was Hindu while his mother was Muslim.

Now, the plot. The plot was like a roller coaster. The focus of the film seamlessly changed from personal issues and personal lives to societal issues where the characters which were developed in the first half of the movie became ordinary members of the society in the second half. The movie started with Roshan and his grandmother (Waheeda Rehman) migrating to India. In the airport, Roshan hears news channels telecasting 'kaala bandar' news. Roshan smirks at it - hinting at how ridiculous he thought it was. Little did he (or the audience) know that he'd have to play that role! In Delhi, Roshan is introduced to the 'Indian' way of life - the warmth, the affection. The Delhi-6 neighborhood is show to be made of both the Hindus and the Muslims - both staying in harmony. I particularly liked the dialogue of the sweets-shop owner that only animals eat to satisfy hunger; humans eat to socialise. How true it was. I remeber eating-to-satisfy-hunger only after a fast - all other times i eat because it was time for it - or because i wanted to catch up with a friend. Till interval, the little details of a typical Delhi-6 life was shown. the corrupt police officer and his tyranny were well portrayed.

Post-interval, things change unexpectedly. A 'baba' professed that 'kaala bandar' was creating havoc because a nearby mosque was build after demolishing a temple. This created communal tension in the area. People, who had lived as friends and family for decades, became foes overnight. Around the same time, Bittu was planning to flee to participate in Indian Idol. Roshan, dressed up as 'kaala bandar' expresses love to bittu and gets caught by the masses - and eventually gets almost killed. There was a 'mad' fakir, who roams in the Delhi-6 area carrying a mirror. Gobar (Atul Kulkarni) said that the 'mad' fakir's madness had some substance - that there is God in each one of us, and not in temples/mosques.

There is one sequence which i liked a lot. Gobar was named so as he was claimed to be stupid. To justify this, he was always asked to choose between 2 one rupee coins and a ten rupees note. Gobar would, invariably, choose 2 one rupee coins. Towards the end of the movie he justifies saying that if he would have chosen 1 ten rupees note, he would have lost those many 2-rupees he had been getting. Amazing! Who would like to kill the golden eggs laying hen? Or is it what we call micro-economics which Mohammad Yunus used in his Grameen Bank venture?

The character of Jalebi (Divya Dutta) exposes the evils of untouchability - which still prevails in the capital of India 60+ years after the Independence. The double standards shown by inspector Ranvijay (Vijay Raaz) - where he 'touches' Jalebi in the darkness of the night but maintains untouchability in the daytime is contrasted with the help which Jalebi does by giving her hair strands to Gobar. Gobar, however, couldn't get above his 'tradition' and asks jalebi to throw them in his hands without touching him!

Motorola also did a good job in advertising and branding it's products especially E8. This, unlike most in-film advertisements didn't hinder the pace of the movie rather aided it. However, this ad came in too late as it's almost a year since the E8 released in the market. Better late than never - only if it makes business sense!

The music of the movie is brilliant. The short songs doesn't stall the pace of the movie. As an album, it has a romantic song, a bhajan, a qawali, a high-beats song, a marriage song! A R Rehman proves once again that he is truly world-class. The lyrics by Prasoon Joshi are very relevant and show that good poetry can still be found in bollywood songs.

This film belongs to the same genre which Mehra started with RDB - starts with personal lives of ordinary Indians which becomes part of addressing a socio-politcal issue. If people call it a formula, so be it. In that case every movie can be put into a formula! Now, i want to see Aks. I want to see what Mehra did in his first movie. Also, I am looking forward to what Mehra would (or could?) come up with next. I cannot compare it with RDB - being an urban youth, i could connect well with RDB. But Delhi-6 is equally good. It's better than any movie i saw in recent times. It's a movie one can only experience!

PS: I delayed writing this review. I was worried if i can praise this movie enough as no praise is enough for it. It's so easy to criticize and so damn difficult to praise.


deicider February 23, 2009 at 4:09 PM  

Hmm D-6 seems worth watching!

Krishna February 23, 2009 at 8:38 PM  


As always,you have done critical analysis of the movie.....
Can think of pursuing your career as critic...............

alpesh February 25, 2009 at 9:59 AM  


I must say that you are a good correlator..The way you correlated "Mirror Marche" with "Candle Marche" and gober's choosing of coins instead of a note with "micro-economics policy of mohammed yunus" was truely gr8..

avik February 25, 2009 at 4:33 PM  

you know what the movie need to have patience to watch such a movie whch do not have a link to what it is showing in the next scene.........I really appreciate your patience..........the whole movie only started with "kala bandar" and ended with it. The acting skills of Waheeda Rehman was never shown thriugh out the movie.Her role could be done by any other actor. The inspector tried to be serious but was creating comedy via its actions.............The whole concept of it was lost somewhere as a lot was expected out of Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra after RDB.

Prashant Mehta February 25, 2009 at 7:14 PM  


I agree to disagree :)

Just as RDB, D6 was not "star-centric" rather it was stroy centric - So, Waheeda Rehman's not getting enough oportunity was expected. All actors had their own part to play though each one individually could have done much more. This is the beauty of it. Should i call it a "drawback" then? I am not sure.

Anonymous February 25, 2009 at 9:59 PM  

there is only one "kala bandar" in the whole movie, none other than AB. I guess this is eye treat for bunder but not for Humans. -- Visu.

Rajat Jain March 1, 2009 at 8:46 AM  


About the Waheeda Rehman thingy. What would you rather want - India winning the match and Sachin (or your favorite player) scoring a slow 50, or India losing the match and Sachin scoring a brilliant 100? :)

Anonymous March 2, 2009 at 10:14 AM  

It's Atul Kulkarni! Agnihotri is a far cry from Kulkarni in every aspect.

Prashant Mehta March 2, 2009 at 11:32 AM  


Thanks for pointing that out! I have incorporated your point:)

avik March 6, 2009 at 12:16 PM  

@ Rajat

It is ceratainly not about any particular player scoring high but if your favourite player is playing then the expectations from him is lot and ceratinly you will cherish his all shots.
It is as simple as if Waheeda Rehman is acting then your expectations from her increase a lot and if that is not the case then SRK should not be all directors' (most)favourite.....It is just when SRK is acting then a lot is expected from him in comparison to when Mungarilal (for example) is acting for the same role

Aritra March 8, 2009 at 9:14 PM  

Just saw the film yesterday... and liked it a lot (except few things though)....

Many things in the movie are worth a praise.... mostly which Prashant has already mentioned.... but the best part of the movie was, I felt, the transition.... just into the second half, the movie took a 180 degrees turnaround - and u won't even feel the jerking.... it's so built into the sotry that it just happens.... typical RDB style - seems this is the forte of Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra.... I was also really impressed by the symbolisms used in the movie e.g. the pigeon massakali, the kaala bandar etc....

However, all was not well.... the first half seemed to be laden with too many songs, every now and then.... also couldn't digest the sequence where RIshi Kapoor is confessing his love to Abhisek's mother to Abhishek and Abhishek is thoroughly enjoying it with a bottle of beer.... Also the Harry Potter style ending (cf. chapter 35 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) with Amitabh Bachchan is seemed to break the entire mood of the film.... Lets keep my personal choice of killing Roshan to suit the mood of the film.... at least his survival could have been shown in more realistic ways....

Regarding to some of the comments made on this review - I don't understand why ppl are complaining abt Waheeda Rehman being misutilized.... Rishi Kapoor was much more wasted in the movie.... just had to play billiards in the entire movie.... compared to him, Waheeda had a bigger role....

Nw, good work Prashant... once again.... u shud seriously consider taking film criticism as a part time profession.... not only will it help you watch lots of movies for free, but u'll also get paid for them.... just one flip side - u might have to watch several horrible movies.... :P

deicider March 20, 2009 at 3:01 PM  

I got quite a few negative reviews about Delhi 6.But Prashant is perhaps the only person who convinced me it is a movie worth watching!
And I am glad to say I was not disappointed.
However the critics have dissappointed me yet again!
There is a problem with critics and audience alike in India.
Unless and untill the movie is tangible in a sense where you can understand the meaning of each and every frame ,you will not enjoy the movie.You will criticise it,call it boring,backlash at it but you will not spend 5 precious minutes to think what did the movie actually say?
Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra thankfully didnot subscribe to this spoon feeding technique of movie making.
I really fail to understand that in a country which had produced some of the greatest philosopher's and scientists how can people be so less intuitive?
Maybe this is the reason why the number of scientists in our country are dwindling.
People simply dont stop to think , they simply ignore the orgasmic pleasure you derive when you overwork your braincells to analyse what you have seen and derive a conclusion and your gut says it's right.
Not that Delhi 6 needs that deep an introspection but it requires some of it none the less.
And the movie itself gives this message loud and clear when Roshan says that the mirror reflects the god in everyone.
When I think about that scene it almost seems to me that Mehra was predicting the future.
In my mind's eye I can see Mehra standing in the midst of critics and trying to tell them what his movie actually means and all the critics misunderstanding him and even making mockrey saying if he calls this a movie then even they can make movies(reference drawn from the scene where Roshan tells everybody what the fakir carrying a mirror is actually trying to say).
Perhaps the very fact that this introspection is missing is the cause of all riots and bigotry and fanaticism in this country.
And Mehra has chosen such a perfect way of showing all this.
I dont know if people missed that message in the film or they saw it but simply refused to absorb it and asked for a better represntation of the same thought.
I dont know what happened but I know this.....Delhi 6 gives you a very clear message about the disfunctions that exist in multiple parts of our society at different levels and it gives you a very clear warning of where we are headed if we dont stop to think before we act.
And for all critics and cinegoers out there who criticised the movie unfairly please consider the fact that movies are not always made as a form of mere entertainment ,sometimes they are meant to make you think,analyze and maybe in your own way come up with solutions that can build a better future.That is why there are movies like Golmaal Returns and Delhi 6,poles apart and still existing because there is need for stupidity in entertainment but please lets not just give into only stupidity.Entertainment for entertainment's sake is fine as long as it doesnot take away from us the capability to introspect and be enteratined by thoughts and analysis soemtimes instead of just stupid gimmicks.
Watch Delhi6...u may like it or not,ur choice ,but u definitely cannot ignore it.

Tejaswy August 2, 2009 at 12:27 PM  

It was never called kala was called monkey man
I was in class 9th when the monkey man case happened.
I blame the media for it.It was hot as hell and this heat made people go mad.They started to see things.

Rumors begin to spread.The best one I liked was that this was a follow up by the ISI to the Kargil war.It made sense to my 14 year old brain.

I remember my friends mom dragged my friend to the local Hanuman Mandir every Tuesday to protect him from the Monkey man.

If the reports were to be believed of that time...Money man could teleport with in a 50 kms radius.
He would be at Ghaziabad at 1 am and in Sari kale khan at 1:10 am.
He could not fly.. but could jump great distances.he had claws of steel.

He was alergic to water it seems because as soon as the monsoon started he vanished.

The delhi BJP govt lost the elections due to money man it seems :D

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