Monday, June 15, 2009

Delhi 6 and inspirations

There was a time when the world of Hindi cinema was a parallel universe altogether, very much like our own world, but distinctly differ-ent, without the mundane issues we deal with, but with issues larger-than-life: pyar, mohabbat, izzat, intekam... Then, post-millennium, movies started to become more realistic, more close to our own experience, still maintaining its own parallel universe time-wrap. (Did ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ started the trend? I don’t know.)
Now, Hindi movies are becoming more and more daring, trying to break the walls of that mythical parallel universe. Now, films have begun to talk about themselves (‘Luck By Chance’), or other films (the character Mahi in ‘Bacchna Aae Hasino’ who has seen ‘DDLJ’ for 17 times.), or talk about current issues (‘A Wednesday,’ ‘Mumbai Meri Jaan’)...
If Hindi films making jokes about Hindi films were not enough, now we have Hindi films showing television news channels as a narrative device. That’s a punishment, if you ask me. Aren’t we all tired of the news channels at home that we are forced to see them doing their ‘nakhda’ in the multiplexes as well? This was my first reaction as I saw Delhi-6. (It was late in the day, I agree. The reviews were not encouraging. So, I decided to wait till the DVDs are out.)
Back to ‘delhi-6.’ An enormous amount of time in the film is taken by news channels. TV played a pivotal role in ‘RDB’ as well. But there it made sense. This time, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra has gone over-board. Okay. We are building the narrative on a grapevine which is being spread by the news channels. So far so good. By why should we be forced to see the events through the eye of a television camera, as in the case when the jelebi shop was vandalised? That’s a bit too much. Tell us a straight story please.
And, please, please, don't show the constantly changing tv channels while a couple makes love with a tv remote on the bed; it's a very old trick, and a tad boring now, if you ask me.
I can’t say, I did not like the film. I think Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra wanted to pay a tribute to his city and he does, with all his sentiments. As a pastiche, the film works wonder. I especially liked the state-of-the-art Ramleela sequences. Most of the minor characters have their traits... (Come to think about it, everyone here is a minor character, the narrator, Roshan, included.)... But as a narrative, the film does not work. It’s not even proper love story.
Okay. I stop. I am not reviewing the film. I am just trying to show-off my ‘intelligence’. There’s two things I noticed which, I am very happy to admit, I could trace to their original source.
The mirror: The so-called psycho keeps showing a mirror to everybody. It’s a major symbol Mehra employs in the film: “We are more important than anything else.” The film closes with the mirror reflecting the characters. Even the music CD cover of the film carries the mirror, which will reflect your face. You too are a part of the film’s world. Very clever and ingenious. Wait. Then I remember, a few years ago, the Time magazine had carried a cover with a shiny mirror-like substance pasted on a picture of a computer screen to celebrate the person of the year: ‘You. Yes, you. You control the in-formation age. Welcome to your world.
The dead: At the climax, Roshan is killed by the mob. Then we see him eating, what else, jelebi, with his father, acting as grandfather in the film. He is dead and in heaven, apparently. Then he wants to make a call to him mother... How smart! Then I remember ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.’ The chapter called 'King’s Cross': Harry dies and meets Damboldore somewhere, and then he’s back to kill Vodermort.
Okay. Okay. I am nit-picking. Sorry.
Tailpiece: Just caught a glimpse of a Hindi film called ‘Chocolate,’ the last scene where Anil Kapoor realises how he was conned. Then he thinks... in a Hindi dialogue clearly copied and translated from that Kevin Spacey gem from ‘The Usual Suspects,’ “You never knew. That was his power. The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist. And like that, poof. He's gone...
In chaste Hindi. Imagine.

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