Being the headquarters of India’s Hindi film industry, Mumbai has and perhaps always will be a preferred and convenient backdrop for stories and their settings.
While some films are quintessentially about this city like Satya, Salaam Bombay or Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, in others the city simply serves as a setting.
This year, however, it’s the Indian capital that is giving the home of Bollywood a run for its box office bucks.
So far three films have been set against a Delhi backdrop, two of which won the hearts of audiences. While Rang De Basanti and Khosla Ka Ghosla have enjoyed box office success, Ahista Ahista did not take long to exit the cinemas. The Aamir Khan starrer Fanaa was also partly shot and set in Delhi, with Khan’s character playing a tour guide.
|Jimmy Sheirgill and Neha Dhupia play a Delhi couple in Anand Kumar’s Delhi Heights.|
We all know how many crores that one raked in for producer Yashraj Films. Instead,
aimless youth who scrapes a living by acting as a witness in Delhi’s marriage registry office (Abhay Deol), failed to lure audiences, also most of the film was shot on sets masquerading as Old Delhi.
Of course this is not a new trend by any means. Mani Ratnam’s Shah Rukh Khan starrer Dil Se too was partly based in Delhi.
Two other new films boast their Delhi connection. The first is the under-production Delhi Heights and the other is Delhi 6, which goes on floors next year.
Jimmy Sheirgill and Neha Dhupia play a Delhi couple in Anand Kumar’s Delhi Heights. Says Kumar: “It’s a very Delhi film, in a sense the characters have a very Delhi attitude — the way they talk, walk, dress, etc. People say Dilli ke dilwale, in other words big-hearted and accommodating are characteristics you’ll notice in the characters. The language, diction, mannerisms, body language are very Delhi. In other words: slightly loud, very enthusiastic about everything.”
Some of the elements he has incorporated into his story are actors Om Puri and Vivek Shauq drinking in the car outside a wedding venue and in the wedding sequence, “You won’t see just the neighbours but the entire mohalla joining in the revelry.”
Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s Rang De Basanti celebrated Delhi with some stunning locations and an endearing use of dialect and language. He says his film could only be made with Delhi as its backdrop as the film tackled some sensitive and political issues that are evident in Delhi.
Interestingly his next film is titled Delhi 6, the pin code of an area in Chandni Chowk. “It’s based on my own experiences in Delhi as I spent my childhood there. But it’s not autobiographical,” says Mehra.
Director Dibaker Banerjee grew up in Delhi and adores the city. So when he decided to wield the megaphone for the first time, it was natural for him to collaborate with friend and colleague Jaideep Sahni on a film that spotlights an aspect of life in Delhi, and the characters that inhabit it.
Thus, his first film Khosla Ka Ghosla, a bittersweet black comedy revolving around a dysfunctional middle class Delhi family desperate to regain their plot from an unscrupulous land-grabber, was born.
“The response I am getting is from as far as die-hard Bengalis from Kolkata and people from Mumbai and Pune who shook my hands saying they had never enjoyed a Delhi more before,” he says, adding, “Delhi is also very happy to see their city reflected in such a nice way in the film.” With Mumbai and Delhi finding fair representation in films, maybe Bangalore would be an interesting backdrop for filmmakers.