IF YOU LIKED SLUMDOG, YOU'LL LOVE DELHI-6
Bindi and I braved Thursday's severe thunderstorms and flooding to see Delhi-6, the latest film by Rang da Basanti director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra.
Like Slumdog Millionaire, this fast-paced snapshot of Delhi has been taken to task for shining a mirror onto India's darker aspects - in this case caste and religious intolerance, dowry, misogyny and police brutality. It's got everything, including the Ramayana pageant, windbag politicians fanning the flames of intolerance, a cow giving birth in the street and a Hindu-Muslim riot.
It stars Abishek Bachchan as a US-born NRI (non-resident Indian) who accompanies his grandmother back to Old Delhi's Chandni Chowk neighborhood, where she wants to spend her dying days. Once there he meets quarreling relatives who are not pleased with his mixed Hindu-Muslim heritage, learns about "real" India and falls in love with the beautiful Sonam Kapoor (which of course he announces in English, rather than Hindi).
Abishek's character throws a monkey wrench into the community's age-old customs - whether her's handing a box of sweets to a Brahmin who's just stepped out of the loo, trying to help the sweeper woman carry her garbage, or telling a father he can't marry off his daughter without her consent. There's also a kaala bandar (black monkey) thrown into the mix, to represent fear and intolerance. The film moves fast, clocking in at 2:20, and doesn't pause to explain its references - which was rather refreshing but may be confusing to those who don't know much about India.
It costars the still-handsome Rishi Kapoor as Uncle Ali, and boasts a cameo by Big B, Amitabh Bachchan. Plus it begins and ends with a message that is basically the essence of yoga: All gods represent the same God, and inside each and every one of us there resides a small spark of the divine.
The soundtrack is by none other than two-time Oscar winner A.R. Rahman, and can be heard here.
The wonderful but blurry video pasted below was worth the price of admission, and shows what would happen if Times Square were to relocate to Chandi Chowk - or vice-versa. If it did, I'd move there in a New York minute.
Delhi-6 runs through March 5 at Piper's Alley.
Thanks to Bindi for the head's-up on this one! Read her excellent review here.