Such is the fascination with Delhi that currently there are at least seven films in various phases of production, all set in Delhi. The heritage monuments and green expanses that depicted Delhi on celluloid in the 70s share screen space with a lot more today, including the Metro, the highrises, upmarket villages, and the five-star multiplexes; not to forget the bursting-at-the-seams lanes and bylanes of Old Delhi.
Come October and Rohan Sippy’s Akshay Kumar-starrer Chandni Chowk to China will hit the screen. December will see Anurag Kashyap’s take on Devdas, titled DevD. Then there is Madhureeta Anand’s Mere Khwabon Mein Jo Aaye under the PVR banner, and Anand Kumar’s Jugaad.
There are also the biggies — Rakyesh Omprakash Mehra’s Dilli 6, Deepa Mehta’s What’s Cooking? and Aamir Khan's production, Delhi Belly. What is it about the city that has the filmmakers hooked? “The sun and the air is different in Delhi,” answers Delhi-bred Mehra. Talking about the title of his film, he says, “It’s called Dilli 6 as the film is based in Old Delhi and that is the area’s pin code.”
Rakyesh, in fact, refused to build a set in Mumbai, saying he “was keen to get an authentic feel of the city”. And as the story is set in current-day Delhi, “there was a sequence where we had to shoot the Metro, the script demanded that.” Rohan Sippy, whose film is also set in Chandni Chowk, says, “We shot in Paranthewaali Gali, and it was thrilling.”
New Age Delhi
Cut to Madhureeta Anand. Her film is set in Hauz Khas village. “My film captures young Delhi. It’s not just about forts and gates, but about the beautiful Hauz Khas village, the addictive Khan Market and the newly jazzed-up Connaught Place.” Similarly Mehta’s film What’s Cooking is a tale of two girls in Delhi.
Says city-bred actress Shreya Saran, who plays one of the girls, “Delhi today rides on swift flyovers and has the fanciest restaurants, and our film has all of it.”
Another diehard Delhiite, Anurag Kashyap, who’s shot DevD in the bylanes of Paharganj, says, “There is a unique feel to Paharganj — those neon tube-lights, the ever-busy streets, and those hippy outlets. It’s a city within a city. So mysterious, yet so hip and happening. It’s an amazing mix.”
Even Aamir isn’t immune to this charming city. “Delhi is not just a location but a character in the film,” he says, summing it all up neatly.