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Delhi-6 February 23, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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The experience of watching Delhi-6 goes something like this – Imagine that Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra promised to take you on a trip to the moon. This wonderful trip through space seems to be going fine and when you finally see yourself approaching the destination, he jettisons you off into outer space (the advantage in this case being that you can actually come back home). Now no matter how much you want to curse him for throwing you off you still cannot discount the unforgettable journey till that point. That for you is Delhi-6 condensed in a few lines – the must-watch disappointing flick of the year.

The film for most part is a satirical black comedy centered around the family and friends of an NRI Roshan (Abhishek Bachchan), who agrees to accompany her dying grandmother (Waheeda Rehman) to Delhi where she wants to live with her kith and kin until her final moment. This extended circle of family and friends incidentally turns out to be one amazing ensemble of a supporting cast who bring the streets of Delhi alive. The main premise makes use of the (in)famous “Monkey-man” (Kala Bandar) series of incidents which occurred about 6 years back. You realize as the film progresses that the use of this peg is mainly to take a dig at communalism but meanwhile there are a lot of other issues touched upon with a mix of playful reverence and biting satire like religious beliefs/rituals, casteism, oppressive families etc. with a dash of the usual NRI-finding-his-roots thread. The multiple sub-plots reminded me of last year’s Welcome To Sajjanpur but they are completely different and commendable in their own way.

What seems to have gone terribly wrong is the communalism thread – which is so hackneyed, preachy and completely out of line with the tone of the film. Still, when the film seems to be getting back on track towards the climax you are given another bitter (or rather bizarre) pill to swallow. No wonder it is receiving brickbats from all corners. Apart from Mehra another person to shoulder the blame has to be Abhishek Bachchan. On one hand he should be commended for accepting a role which is little more than a narrator where the only thing expected of him is just to “be there”. Now whoever gave him the idea of using that irritating fake accent – the worst part being he uses that only when conversing with characters who don’t seem to understand English otherwise he absolutely has no issues mouthing heavy duty dialogues in shuddh Hindi. Apart from pissing you off this only seems to make his character appear so disinterested in what is happening around him. If it weren’t for that wonderfully filmed song – with Times Square juxtaposed on Delhi’s crowded streets; his character’s existence in the film would be completely unjustified.

You might say these are small details but these stand out more so because the rest of the cast is flawless to the core. I can only mention the people whose names I know – Waheeda Rehman (my favorite onscreen mom anytime), Rishi Kapoor (whose true “second innings” finally seems to have kickstarted this year), Sonam Kapoor (a similar giggly role like Saawariya which nevertheless suits her so well), Vijay Raaz, Pawan Malhotra, Om Puri, Divya Dutta, Atul Kulkarni, Tanvi Azmi and the ones who play Rajjo Bhabhi and Rama Bua.

The cinematography (Binod Pradhan) and artwork (Samir Chanda) are top notch and there is a fine balance between the use of real locations and set-pieces. If the cast and crew make Delhi come alive then to top it all is the man of the moment A.R Rahman who arguably delivers one of his best scores ever and to his fortune he has a director who knows how to use it to maximum effect.

As the end credits rolled with the mesmerising “Arziyan” track I was feeling so exhilarated yet equally sad – for having seen a film which rises to magnificent heights yet screws up so badly in the last lap. But I strongly recommend every lover of cinema to still check out Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s brutally flawed masterpiece for it has too many great things about it which you’d struggle to find in any so called “good” film you generally come across.

Jab We Met October 27, 2007

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Imtiaz Ali’s highly underrated debut feature Socha Na Tha brought a certain freshness to chiche-ridden Bollywood romances….with Jab We Met he has mastered the genre completely.

The plot is the typical tried and tested romcom formula. The basic premise (more specifically the part until the protagonists meet) seems to have been a bit inspired from Cameron Crowe’s Elizabethtown (another underrated romcom). Aditya (Shahid Kapoor/Kapur – no idea about the correct spelling after he split with Kareena) is a failed businessman who on being dumped by his girlfriend ends up in a train with the intention of jumping out of it and ending his life. On the same train is the motormouth Geet (Kareena Kapoor) who ends up sitting next to him trying to strike a conversation. In this process she ends up missing her train multiple times at various stations and he is now given the responsibility of transporting her safely to her destination. Actually, she is on her way to meet her parents for one last time before she secretly packs off to get married to her boyfriend Anshuman (Tarun Arora). How Aditya and Geet’s journey finally gets them together forms the rest of the story.

As in Imtiaz’s previous film the thing which stands out is the brilliant characterization of the protagonists and the dialogue. Kareena’s lines are absolutely hillarious (some of which you might have seen in the promos). The scenes between Shahid and Kareena will have you in splits throughout. The emotional moments are expertly handled too. Though the purpose here is to thoroughly entertain this is not a dumb comedy. The interactions between the lead pair do make you think at times. The screenplay is so good that even the regular “highly irritating Bollywood Punjabi household” charms you.

Pritam’s score is situational and suits the mood of the film. I especially likes the song “Yeh Ishq Haae” for its interesting musical arrangement. Shahid and Kareena deliver their career-best performances. Kareena’s reputation as an actress has been marred by the kind of roles she’s done in the past but this performance of hers shows why she is one of the best actresses we have. Despite not having the best lines, Shahid holds his own with his nuanced performance and never once do you feel that he is overshadowed by Kareena. It is ironical that their pairing which has finally clicked with this film comes immediately after their break-up.

Jab We Met is one of those few flicks in which everything seems to have worked perfectly; you wouldn’t want to find any flaws because it does so well a job of regaling you….whether you are a serious moviegoer or someone just looking out for some timepass. Go watch it!