Filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra dismisses rumours that his much-awaited Delhi-6 is an onscreen autobiographical adaptation but admits he has used some fond memories of his childhood and youth in the movie.
"'Delhi-6' is not an autobiography at all. I've just delved into my childhood memories and my youth in the film. I've only used what I observed when I was growing up in the backdrop. It's more of the colour of that life that has been used in the background than anything else," Mehra told IANS over telephone from Mumbai.
"It's the story of an Indian origin American boy Roshan Mehra who comes to India to drop his ailing grandmother...like taking a fish back to water. It is the journey of this man and his search for his roots," he said.
Releasing Friday, "Delhi-6" has been written by Mehra along with Prasoon Joshi and Kamlesh Pandey.
It stars Abhishek Bachchan, Sonam Kapoor, Waheeda Rahman, Rishi Kapoor, Om Puri, Gulshan Grover, Atul Kulkarni, Divya Dutta and a dove that serves as the romantic leitmotif in the plot. Superstar Amitabh Bachchan also makes a guest appearance.
Talking about the symbolic meaning behind the film's unusual title, Mehra said: "Delhi-6 (the walled city) is a microcosm of India. It symbolises all the small towns of the country where the heart of a city resides and the walled city of Delhi is an attempt to represent that."
Though the film is woven around Delhi-6, which is the PIN code for the walled city of Delhi, what stands out in the movie's poster is the presence of the Statue of Liberty in Chandni Chowk.
"The Statue of Liberty will mean a lot to the people when they watch the movie as it has multiple symbolisms. India today is a melting pot of cultures, religions and castes and now is also finding its place in the global arena. Thus, the Statue of Liberty would signify that and also the land from where this boy (Roshan) comes from," Mehra explained.
The 45-year-old director says he had the "time of his life" while shooting the film.
"Every day was an anecdote for us. Basically, we shot with a lot of chaos but with balance and that's what personifies India. That is the basic energy of the film. We recreated Delhi in Sambhar (Rajasthan) and about 75 percent of the film is shot there, and the rest in Chandni Chowk," he said.
A major part of the film was shot in Rajasthan because he did not want to disturb the people living in Chandni Chowk, said Mehra.
"Except for capturing some aspects of the walled Delhi, we couldn't have shot the whole film in that part of Delhi. Otherwise, we would have disturbed the life out there," he said.
Mehra made his directorial debut with box office dud "Aks" in 2001 before carving a niche for himself with "Rang De Basanti" in 2006.
Asked about the long breaks between his projects, he said: "That's because of multiple reasons. Cinema is very personal for me. I need time to unwind before I can recharge my batteries. I need time to express myself and that takes a lot of time.
"I write, produce and direct. While production takes close to Rs.500 million in a film, getting the screenplay and the cast right, pre-production and then to post-produce - it all takes a lot of time."
Now bogged down with promotional work for "Delhi-6" and interviews, Mehra says he is "thinking of a diving holiday ride" once the film releases.
"I can only see an emerald-blue sea right now where I can soak myself in the sun," he said.