Delhi-6 might not be filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s most popular work, but I do believe it is one of his most underrated. Of course it’s not perfect, but the way Delhi has been shot and shown in the feature is praiseworthy; and its lovely, vibrant soundtrack, is unforgettable.
Starring the likes of the late Rishi Kapoor, Abhishek Bachchan, Sonam Kapoor, Om Puri and Waheeda Rehman, Delhi-6, among other things, was a film about finding your roots and rediscovering yourself as a person. The movie’s music acts like a companion narrative piece to the storyline. It enables the plot to move forward in a more stunning fashion. And while nearly all of its tracks became hits in their own right, one Ash King number called “Dil Gira Dafatan” was relatively overlooked. But it’s the one that still holds, in terms of how it sounds, looks and feels.
A dream sequence unlike any other, the number shows our hero Roshan Mehra (Bachchan) wake up to see two worlds colliding, or rather, merging. Speaking about the track and its meaning, director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra told indianexpress.com, “It is the microcosm of the entire film; in that one song, I wanted to tell you the summary of the whole film. Just like you write a novel’s synopsis. It is about main protagonist Roshan Mehra, who comes back from the US. His mother is a Muslim, and father a Hindu, and he comes back to drop his grandmother to Delhi. This is his first visit to India, now, in his head he has grown up in the American culture. This is where his roots belong. And when one day he gets up, he sees the Jama Masjid next to the Statue of Liberty, which are iconic images from two different cultures coming together. And then he enters Times Square, which is the aspiration of a lot of youth, to go west. There he sees the girl he’s falling in love with, and while following her, he sees all the nuances of the Indian culture; the namaaz, the flying Hanuman etc, he sees all of it in Times Square. All I wanted to say was all of them are living in peace and harmony, and that people love to live like that.”
Further elaborating on it, the filmmaker said, “I was trying to say that it doesn’t matter what caste or religion or country you come from, the first basic need for human being is to co-exist with each other. It’s a beautiful track composed by AR Rahman and sung by Ash King. Its shooting was completed in 18 days.”
While there have been many dream sequences that Bollywood has incorporated in songs over the years, none hits you with its pleasing, almost-painting-like structure like “Dil Gira Dafatan”. So how did Mehra manage to make the intermingling of two distinctly different worlds look so seamless on screen?
“This was in 2007, that’s a while back, we had to improvise a lot. The same tools were not available, in terms of visual effects, and we had to recreate Times Square millimeter by millimeter, with the help of Google Earth images. And then we went there (America) and shot all of that place, in terms of what was going on in the background. Let’s say, I had to imagine it all in my head, and it was very fun doing that. This is Rahman’s favourite also, because that’s the only song he has ever… he’s a man of few words, as you know, and we have shot some iconic numbers. But this was the first time I heard a praise from him, it was quite heartening. He himself said that this is nothing short of genius,” the filmmaker concluded.
Delhi-6 is available to stream on Netflix and YouTube.