Notes on Delhi 6

Posted on February 10, 2011

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The film is hardly as bad as people made it out to be. There are things that the film gets right and there are things that made me fume. I will limit myself to some points. First, the good:

1. Roshan’s dream set to the music of Dil Gira. Roshan’s near-death experience/dream is a continuation of that idea. The idea of eating jalebis with his grandfather on the terrace was quite creative. But did Bachaan Sr. have to play the grandfather?

2. The brave placement of Rehna Tu. I liked the fact that Mehra didn’t use the song to serve as a musical narrative. The lyrics of the song do not mirror Roshan and Bittu’s relationship or feelings. Mehra used the song purely for the music and its nocturnal quality. It made the scene magical — the laid-back night life, the leisurely pool game, the romantic yearning. I guess you have to visit one of those addas to understand how apt the music was.

3. The music. God! What a soundtrack!

4. The humor and dialogues in the first half of the film. The story appeared to ramble but it was put together with great care. It was hardly without a script as people believe.

5. The cast. Everyone was topnotch.

Things I did not like:

1. The film takes its metaphor too literally — the madman with the mirror and Massakalli with its bound wings.

2. The problem of the gaze. Mehra, for strange reasons, prefers to subject our country to the foreign gaze. In Rang de Basanti, it was the British girl and in Delhi 6, it’s the American Roshan. It renders his entire argument suspect.

3. The final 30 minutes. I don’t know what happened but the itch got stronger, I guess. Either Mehra feared that people will not get the point and therefore, it must be hammered in.

4. The naïve belief that everyone here is good and everything works. There are things that DO NOT WORK. I hate the lyrics of Yeh Dilli hai merey yaar — this absurd romanticisation of the city. Roshan whipping out his phone to capture an urban nightmare as if it is a beautiful object of art is silly in the extreme. The fact that Roshan has no emotional connection with the place makes it sillier. Seeing your city through the eyes of an outsider — a tourist — and believing that his amusement shows the city’s character or greatness or beauty or whatever is so absurdly colonial [see the point about the Gaze].

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Posted in: Reviews