Review - Delhi 6: An awesome street play

wogma rating: Add to 'must watch' list (?)
quick review:

A beautiful non-story with a very deeply-rooted, oft-repeated, overdose of standard philosophy.

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Wogma Review

A travelogue of a tourist on vacation capturing his experience through recordings and pictures. A personal diary - each page an observation about life and its people. Angst against everything that's wrong with this world. A mirror held up to society - not to reflect its filth but to spot that we are the cause and effect of our discontent and discord. What is Delhi-6? A bit of them all. And not any one thing in entirety.

It's not the journey of a non-resident Indian visiting India. You see the world through his eyes. It's not about one particular pin (zip) code area. It is a slice of any town. It is not about a religious divide nor is it about unity. All of which translates to this - it doesn't have a story in the traditional sense of the term. This is the beauty of the film. Even the main characters are not really full-blown protagonists. You know them slightly more than you know the other 15 side-characters.

Without a concrete story it very gradually creates an appealing environment. But at half-time, you are still in the "okay, NOW the movie will start" mode. This can be a frustrating experience unless you give yourself up to the edgy-choppy style of story-telling. In fact, the first two distinct and abrupt sequences tell you to prepare yourself for 2-3 threads and to draw parallels between them. And analogies there are aplenty. Some of them are as in-the-face as they are sudden.

The abrupt cuts and background music, though brilliant, were too distracting for me to let go completely. I felt like I'm snooping in on somebody's daily journal and it felt mighty uncomfortable as if I'm intruding their privacy. Most of us are aware of the standard philosophy spouted through the movie. Yet, we can enjoy the understated way in which it is being told. Except in the end, that is. It's like the writers got anxious, "what if the audience doesn't catch on to the subtlety?" Let us spell it out for them: m-e-s-s-a-g-e.

Very intentionally the writers are writing a book that doesn't necessarily have to be read back-to-back. You can flip open a page, read, digest or not, close and open at another random page. Like it doesn't matter to them that one thread is left unresolved. Same goes for the songs and their abrupt placement. However, 'dafatan' is one of the best picturized songs I've seen in a long time. Not only because of the imagination and the technical creativity but also because it takes you into the character's mindset. He in turn, is representative of how we as a race want the best of all our worlds to come together.

The details within each sequence, like dialogues, interactions are not ground-breaking but not fatal either. There are a few brilliant lines amongst the blah sexual innuendos. And by the way, just in case you Dilli-wallas or hard-core desis take offence, you are told often enough that you are good at heart, so just listen to that bit, ok?

The undercurrent is more important - the contradictions, the double standards, the bickering, the human tendency to reconcile when in need. Brothers fight like cats. But when the need arises they can be a part of a community against "outsiders". Two communities fight. But when there is something that endangers both they can unite to conquer the deemed-common enemy. That which divides to rule can unite too, such is the extent of our inconsistencies. And this can be extrapolated to any other relationship or issue. Such comments on how things work today are strewn across the movie.

The amused look Roshan (Abhishek Bachchan) wears on his introduction to India was extremely heartening. It was neither demeaning nor patronizing. Abhishek isn't required to do anything out of the ordinary, but overpowering the likes of Waheeda Rahman must certainly not have been an easy task. As much credit to Waheedaji especially in that particular scene for succumbing to the situation. Sonam Kapoor has a charming screen presence and makes the best of the limited range this role offers. The best bit of casting is Atul Kulkarni though. I for one wanted to see him in a not-so-serious role. He captures Gobar's submissiveness and hypocrisy.

Such movies are made with the intention of evoking the audience's inner voice. That's a tall order. Lectures pass right through my 4-year old's entire system, so I'd conclude we are conditioned to ignore them. Then, even if you have a character point out and say, "don't sermonize us", it doesn't make it any less of a speech. And that's where the director lost me as an audience. Nothing is moved to evoke emotion, let alone invoke anything from within. Equality-humanity-yadi-yada-yawwwwn. A little off-mark for the man who has given us radical climaxes - like them or not.

The pace and length could be an issue for some of us. But, we shouldn't miss the fact that it is courageous to attempt a general description of life. I enjoyed the nuances, the hints, and the less blatant bits of commentary on society. That was enough for me to forget and partially forgive the need for a lucid three-act plot.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Police beating people randomly and communal riots. Not *very* gory but brutal.
  • Language: Pretty much clean
  • Nudity & Sexual content: No nudity. Though sex in an extra-marital relationship is hinted at.
  • Concept: Philosophy of looking within ourselves to kill the demon that is us and give our goodness some room.
  • General Look and Feel: There is a constant stream of foot-tapping through the movie. Most of the movie is bright and peppy.

Delhi 6 - Trailer

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