Today I saw No One Killed Jessica once again and this time over, I saw not the story that revolved around the characters but the invisible monster of the city that seemed so omnipresent.
Bollywood has come a full circle from its Bombay days. Remember the decades 40s to the 90s when almost every movie which was not based in a village was based in Bombay. Bombay was the city of dreams and the most happening place in India. Amitabh Bacchan (or any other typical hero of the Hindi movie) grew up in the bylanes of Bombay and stories ripened with the Bombay backdrop. Irrespective of whether the locale had any bearing on the story or not, Bombay was always present as the city where “things happened”.
Cut to the 21st century. Rang De Basanti was a movie that changed things big time. Delhi acquired the license of being the “it” place. Now, we have seen Delhi become the backdrop for several top movies – 3 Idiots, No One Killed Jessica and of course, Delhi 6. Soon, Chalo Dilli is also expected to hit the theatre and then can we forget Delhi Belly?
When Raj Kapoor crooned “Yeh Hai Bombay Meri Jaan” or when several songs relate the perils and pearls of Mumbai, Delhi was a neglected giant. Sitting right at the heart of India, Delhi failed to impress filmmakers – but things have changed now. Delhi is now a big attraction for filmmakers and is not just a neglected sibling who had to make do with minuscule mentions earlier on.
Delhi has acquired center stage for several reasons, but honestly speaking the biggest reason would be the new breed of writers and directors, many of who hail from Delhi or nearby and are ready to explore the various quirks and facets of Delhi. While Delhi-6 explored it in its old world glamor where the Dilliwala is still a gem at heart and old Delhi is still a place where people feed seeds to pigeons on their rooftops, Rang De Basanti and of course, No One Killed Jessica explored the more restless, and sometimes dark side of Delhi. Delhi is synonymous with power today and if you are not somebody, you are nobody.
But the million dollar question here is, would the romance with Delhi last? After all, it’s not as multifaceted as Mumbai. The maximum city packs in all shades of despair and doom in one moment and then flaunts everlasting hope and several thousand beautiful colors in another. Delhi, on the other hand has little offer than its chaos or political corridors and a culture that is fast metamorphosing into pseudo-western modernism.
Your guess is as good as mine, but we should certainly revel in the long-due attention to the heart of India and enjoy it while it lasts.