Sunday, February 22, 2009


Cast: Abhishek Bachchan, Sonam Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor, Waheeda Rehman, Om Puri
Director: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
Runtime: 140 min. (citation needed)
Rating: Zero Stars
Genre: Drama, Romance, Comedy

        Delhi-6 lies a million miles beyond being mere awful. It is offensively awful, so bad that a legislation ought to be passed and all patrons be refunded their money, and the time. And the experience, in particular, so that the movie is somehow unwatched in our minds. It is a horrendous miscalculation, just a step below a sin, to envisage that there will be audiences willing to consider this flimsy excuse worthy of their weekend night out. For that matter any night out, or noon or morning. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to burn the prints altogether. A lot of trouble and pain will be saved. Not a single moment of it is worthy of a movie. For that matter, pulling out your own mobile and spinning it crazily all around you capturing everything in that little video camera would be a more worthwhile exercise. Repeat that ten times, watch them all at once, and I assure you that what you would watch would be considerably more fun that Delhi-6.
        For one Mr. Mehra seems to have been conveyed all the wrong messages post his success from Rang De Basanti, a film I hold in high regard but not for its ideological stance, which I believe is a mess. Its politics is utter rhetoric, self contradictory and just doesn’t hold up to any sort of examination. Where its unquestionable strength lay was its emotional power, which was often raw, and often downright manipulative. What else could be made out of the obligatory killings at the end, which make perfect sense during the film, but reveal the inherent strategy once the film is put under the scanner? Such ambitions lay at the heart of Delhi-6 too, one which feels silly and adolescent than anything else.
        So Mr. Mehra indulges himself in political and sociological grandstanding once again, and this time at the expense of characters, which are nothing more than caricatures uttering supposedly-funny one liners. There seems to be a streak of filmmaking that seems to be paying more attention on message than anything else, and it needs to be understood that there’s no replacing a story. The story, the narrative is paramount, will always be. Of course, Mr. Mehra’s messages are stupid, and embarrassingly dumb and simple-minded. Often I meet people, who during a conversation, ask me – Why do countries wage war? And I make it a point to laugh in their faces. This film is worse.
        But there’s another dimension to Mr. Mehra’s films and sensibilities that kinda bother me. I call it the post-westernized Indianization, where the concerned afflicted turns his eyes towards his own surroundings out of some guilt. I’m not sure I understand the reason for that guilt, but the symptom to be sought is that the concerned after years of doting on things he loved (songs, films, literature) from the west now decides that India is the place to be discovered, so that he is less of a hypocrite and the credibility is enhanced? I don’t know, but the westernized mise-en-scene of Aks, the western element (Sue) turning up and catalyzing meandering youth, and now the western returned Indian discovering his country and falling in love with the strangeness of it does give me ample evidence. Indians make it work is one terrible line, but it needs to be heard again and again for what it says about the speaker and the writer than for what it is actually saying. There’s a wealth of inferences to be had there. That ‘India is special’ gaze that is so peculiar to westernized viewpoint runs through Mr. Mehra’s filmmaking, and it shows in quite a lot of places now. Not just in this film, but around you and me. We just cannot be nonchalant, can we? Never mind, for I do not intend to bother you with discourse now.
        The thing is I do not want to say anything about the film or its plot, and my reason is two-fold. First it would be punishment revisited, and two if I told you wouldn’t want to go. Of course the latter, if I achieve, would be a service to mankind. But then I stand selfish and do not intend to bring pain upon me again. See, there’s nothing worthwhile anybody can really say about the film apart from finding novel ways of saying awful. That word said a thousand times might create an apt description for a potential viewer, and hopefully install within him the dread. Not just to stay away but spread the good word and be a noble neighbor. It is awful filmmaking, with often no sense about it. We once knelt before Mumbai Se Aaya Mera Dost to honor the incalculable degree of its awfulness. Were it not for the odd positioning of our seats, I believe Delhi-6 more than deserves our bow. So Delhi-6, and Mr. Mehra, take a bow. I cannot fathom how a film can be any worse.


srikanth said...

OMG... why all the hate mate? Yes it was downright silly at many places. But not deserving a harsher adjective. May be the aftermath of Slumdog?

man in the iron mask said...

Sir, I hate a film where death is used as a device. It speaks really low of the person in question. A film has got to earn its deaths, is what I believe.

926464 said...

Not a single redeeming point? Acting does not count?

man in the iron mask said...

I really think that apsect of the film was cringe-worthy. None of the actors really had a presence. It felt like an early rehearsal.

Ebrahim Kabir said...

What exactly is westernized mise-en-scene?

man in the iron mask said...

If I cite instances of the top of my head, very few of them that is, I would want to draw your attention to that slow-mo uber stylish sequence of an overcoat-clad Amitabh Bachchan surveying the security. The shot is from down the road, straight, and Mr. Bachchan walks down and across the road, with a limo standing behind. The tone of the scene is one of evening, or more specifically a cloud-covered typical monsoon day. It is gray, evoking a tone of steel, if I could call that.
That is not from us Ebrahim, that is the westernized (and by the word I mean, we applying our own little touches).
Its sense of place and surroundings are not from here, say like the opening shot of Johnny Gaddaar. Sanjay Gupta’s films bear a closer resemblance.
Or for example the sensual cabaret. And compare that to Sarfarosh.

I believe Mr. Mehra’s films desire to be somewhere else.

But then Ebrahim, my memory doesn’t really serve me that well. It has been eight years, isn’t it?

And tell me, isn’t Aks an overlooked film?