This is it. I am starting a campaign. To save Delhi from Bollywood. The time has come to put in a cease and desist clause when film crews start training their beady eyes on the national capital. Because Delhi is much more than the sum of its clichéd parts that our movies show us.
Here’s a list of things, in no particular order, that I’m over and done with:
The Delhi Slacker: This species, mostly male, is to be found lurking in grungy “clonies”, sacking out in dingy rented rooms full of unwashed underwear. The Delhi Slacker mooches about, petrified of having to make an honest living. But it is very good at taadoing girls, calling them tota and maal, and infesting places where there will be female forms.
The Delhi Girl: Either a moonhphat (outspoken, or plain-spoken) type, or a pataka-phooljhari ( bomb, also bimbette) type. The Dilli girl will never stop talking, like a modern-day Basanti. She is happy to give people a piece of her mind. She will wear jeans and top and sling a dupatta around her neck. Or a kurta and Patiala, or even a “spaghetti”. She’s modern like that.
The Delhi mother/ grandmother: Calls all young boys “puttar”, because, of course, there is no other way of address. They are Punjabi, and assume everyone else is too. Stout and well-built, they cook and clean, and beat their chest, and have a chhota peg on the side. Champs at churning out aloo parathas at speed, and at defending their young.
The Delhi Punjabi: Not even in Punjab will you get the kind of Punjabi that populates Delhi. Will live in west Delhi, gorge on “smosey” and “choley” and “bhatoorey” and “jlebi”, and attend Mata ka jagran. Also called Jagrata. Mummyji, bibiji, tayaji, mamaji, bebe, are all part of this tribe.
The Delhi Jat: Genus, male. Mostly a cop aka thulla, found a) scratching crotch b) hitching up pants c) repeating (a) all over again. Mostly loud, coarse, and seemingly free from all formal education, school and college. Highly corrupt. Sometimes able to see a joke, mostly the butt of all jokes. Could be vicious and violent.
The Delhi Neta: Like the thulla, the neta is a Delhi creature. He, also she, is a creature that lives in Lutyens bungalows, has several white Ambassadors in the curved driveway (unknowing of the Amby’s sad fate), liveried “servants” (the rest have to do with house help), and who can whistle up an army of goons.
The Delhi Sight-Seeing Map: No self-respecting Delhi film is without its famous monuments. India Gate and Lal Qila are top of the pops. So is Rajpath and Janpath. Connaught Place used to feature big but that was before it was dug up for the Metro. And how could I forget the Qutb Minar? If none of the above, how will we know it is a Delhi film?
Old Delhi: Dilli 6 deserves a paragraph all to itself. Because Bollywood can’t get enough of its crowded, congested galis, its inter-connected terraces, its kite-flying characters, its cows who sit in the middle of the round-about. And, man, Chandni Chowk. How can there be a Delhi film without Delhi Slackers running down these crowded galis, with a Jat cop hot on their heels?
A Delhi film gets all these elements in place, and only then goes looking for a plot. Tell you what, give me a story, and I will lead you to that most recent famous spot, R-jouri Garden. No, it isn’t a garden. It’s a “clony”. Didn’t you see Queen?