While modern India races ahead towards its self-designed glory with aspirations and outlook that are based on the premise of something new and different, the majority still lives in stark contrast to these changes. The Indian society in reality is multi-faced with its culture, customs, traditions, orthodox outlook, communal bitterness, corruption and above all, hypocrisy. Delhi 6 is a mirror shown to us that portrays this Indian society in changing times. Now whether one chooses to believe that the image in the mirror is a story-less facade, a mockery or a genuinely vivid portrayal of the Indian kaleidoscope is a matter more of acceptance than of opinion.
Rakesh OmPrakash Mehra's 'Aks' was a bold venture into the indestructible evil but his distinct narrative style was incomprehensible by the majority. His next film claimed an iconic status for him and 'Rang De Basanti' became a cult movie with outstanding music, technical finesse, brilliant story telling and a soul stirring message. With 'Delhi 6', Rakesh Mehra gives us a view of his childhood locality in Delhi through the eyes of an NRI who finds the warmth and diversity appeal to him as he brings his ailing grandmother back home. Soon he discovers the hypocrisy and backwardness that lies underneath the surface of the society that first gave him love but now leaves him in disbelief of the reality around him. There is a subtle meaning behind every dialog, a satirical take on every reality, a brilliant visual for everything beautiful, a metaphorical implication for our inner selves in parallel plots, the meaningful and unique compositions of Prasoon Joshi with AR Rehman's genius and a narrative so powerful yet subtle in context and delivery. Rakesh Mehra proves yet again, that he is a class apart from the rest.
The narrative is like a rich textured, painfully woven cloth made of fine individual threads of varied colors that exemplify the film's diverse characters. We see Delhi through the eyes of Roshan (Abhishek Bachchan) who shows maturity and greater understanding of the story than simply that of his character. Bittu (Sonam Kapoor-beautiful!) is the concealed modern face of an Indian Idol aspirant whose dreams are caged by her father's orthodox attitude. Waheeda Rehman plays Roshan's grand mom with her natural ability as a veteran actress while she munches on supari, Pan and dances to Genda Phool. Rishi Kapoor is at his charming best as Ali Baig, Roshan's uncle, a reputable citizen of Delhi 6 whose insight into the ways and customs of the society are both didactic and lasting in their impact. Gobar (Atul Kulkarni class act!), the simpleton who is always ridiculed by everyone has an impactive part to play towards the end while Pawan Malhotra and Om Puri play the roles of acrimonious brothers in a manner that is consistent with their brilliant acting prowess. The list of towering performances extends with Vijay Raaz as the typical corrupt and conceited policeman, Deepak Dobriyal as the rancorous victim of his society's inanity, Prem Chopra as the flamboyant moneylender and Divya Dutta as the outcast trash picker whose mockery of the hypocritical 'clean communities' pinches at the conscience of many.
Although the ensemble cast may seem like the film's highlight, it actually is Rakesh Mehra and Prasoon Joshi's script and screenplay that result in the entwined narrative leading to an analogous summation of the story. Running parallel to Roshan's discovery of India and its people is the plot involving the real life incident of Delhi's 'black monkey scare' back in 2001. This Kaala Bandar menace has shaken the very grounds of scientific and logical credibility while leaving the citizens in a fearful state. Who or what really is this Kaala Bandar?? And of what real significance is the symbolic Ramleela play?? The two aspects of the story have a deeper significance in the real message that Rakesh Mehra's nimble direction is trying to convey and is now clearly affirmed as the trademark in all his films.
AR Rehman returns in his best form after RDB. Every song bears resemblance to those of RDB's in an inconspicuous manner while remaining distinct and pertinent to Delhi 6's story. Prasoon Joshi gives us unique lyrics yet again that carry the deeper meaning which not all dialogs could convey. Genda Phool is the most imaginative song which has a rapper tune to it in the most Indian form ever heard. Rehna Tu, in true Rehman style is that one song in his album that remains the most melodious with his own voice.Bhor Bhaye and Tumre bhavan main are brilliantly rendered in classical style. Arziyan is a great composition with outstanding voices of Kailash Kher and Javed Ali. Delhi hai is the catchy theme song that shows Rehman's versatility with modern music and Kaala Bandar is like a musical story in itself in hip- hop style. Masakali is beautifully sung by Mohit Chauhan and the composition reminds us of what Gulzar would have written for a pigeon. Overall, Delhi 6 is the album that is a rare gem even by the maestro.
'Let us look at the mirror, in which we see a message, in which we see our wronged sides, our true conscience'. Delhi 6 is an honest thought; a philosophy that is truly a reflection of what is around us but which we tend to disregard in our own arrogance or ignorance. The movie's true hero is the crazy Fakir who roams around with a mirror in his hand while narrating the film's enduring philosophy "zarre zarre main usika noor hai, jhaankh khud main, woh Na tujhse door hai
.." Rakesh Mehra's film- making embodies sheer brilliance in story telling, running parallel narratives, strong and witty script, superlative screenplay that does equal justice to an ensemble star cast and in the end leaves a deductive message that one can ponder over for quite sometime. Just go watch it.