Delhi 6 -- Film Review

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Venice Film Festival (Out of Competition)

VENICE -- Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's "Delhi 6" is a slightly different version from the one that opened in India some weeks ago. Mehra calls it a "director's cut" that he felt compelled to exercise after releasing his movie. The change may not exactly go well with an Indian audience used to seeing feel good and lived-happily-ever-after endings.

The film could have certainly had a tighter script, for it takes a long time to come to the point. Too many characters flit in and out of the screen, and in the end they appear two-dimensional and rather flat. Mehra and the other writers probably wanted to present a kaleidoscopic view of old Delhi (the 6 in the title represents the area's pin code), where the story is set, replete with the local flavors, bickerings and general pandemonium.

Roshan (played by Abhishek Bachchan) is an Indian-American who escorts his grandmother (brilliantly essayed by Waheda Rehman, one of India's most talented actresses), who wishes to die in the land she was born. Roshan is soon caught in the web of his relatives' petty quarrels and larger political rivalries that have communal connotations.

The fact that his mother is Muslim and father Hindu makes it somewhat uncomfortable for the neighborhood to accept him without reservations. And when he begins to show an interest in Bittu (Sonam Kapoor) -- who is so desperate to break out of the conventional shackles that she is even willing to elope with a scoundrel -- we know there is trouble brewing.

Unfortunately, Mehra jumps from a small, intimate ring into a large broad-based one by introducing caste-based politicians and a devilish though fictional character in the form of a black monkey that is out to rape women and loot property. It is into this trap that Roshan walks in, his American upbringing making him incapable of understanding the conspiratorial mood in "Delhi 6." The multiplicity of events and the last scene where Abhishek and Amitabh Bachchan are talking (most likely in Heaven) are absolutely bizarre.

A.R. Rahman's music is certainly not his best, and the editing that appears in such a tearing hurry to push each shot away does little to give a real feel of the situations or the characters. In the end, "Delhi 6" remains just a bird's eye-view of a locality with men and events disappearing as fast they appear.

Production: UTV Motion Pictures
Sales: UTV Motion Pictures
Cast: Om Puri, Waheeda Rehman, Abhishek Bachchan, Sonam Kapoor and Rishi Kapoor
Director: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
Screenwriter: Rakeysh Ompraksah Mehra, Prasoon Joshi and Kamlesh Pandey
Producers: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Ronnie Screwvala and Amrita Pandey
Director of photography: Binod Pradhan
Production designer: Samir Chanda
Music: A.R. Rahman
Costumes: Arjun Bhasin, Anamika Khanna and Urmila Motwani
Editor: P.S. Bharathi
No rating, 110 minutes
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