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Delhi at sixes and sevens

This the Rajdhani. It belongs to everybody. So why just chhole-bhature and alu-bervi when Bollywood depicts Delhi as though the rest were invisible!, writes Renuka Narayanan.

columns Updated: Feb 25, 2009 18:21 IST
Guest column | Renuka Narayanan
Guest column | Renuka Narayanan
Hindustan Times

"This-is-the-city-I-grew-up-in-it-has-winters-it-has-shawls-it-has-happy -gaajar ka halwa-families-and-red fort-and-jama masjid-and-I-want-to-showcase-MY CITY-to you." That’s a South Indian blogger’s view of ‘Delhi’ films, especially the just-out Delhi 6. ‘Blogeswari’ further says: “Spot anyone from Delhi in Mumbai, particularly the media people and they are likely to say, ‘Mumbai has nothing... Dilli mein… Dilli Haat... Paratha Gully… Connaught Place haanjee… Dilli winters ka jawab nahin’ for anything and everything. If they are sooo in awe of their city I wonder what they do in Mumbai wasting their time.”

Well, I kind of empathise with all that I love — certain things in Delhi. I was born right here (see my passport), though they took me away when I was a month old to Kolkata and then to Mumbai because they thought girl children deserved a chance. But I had to come right back; finished school here; went to college as well. I even pay house tax here (well, tiny little flat tax, but as they say, “Chajju ka choubara na Balkh na Bukhara”).

Jab we jabbed
I was in the front row of Delhi University girls to wear jeans, forcing the public to accept modern ways. I carried the dividers from my school compass box in my hand on DTC buses to discourage the locals from getting Too Close (it worked, though I always felt something was missing, perhaps a shout of ‘Jai Bhavani!’ and a roar or two from Sheroo).

Look, I helped in my personal capacity to change this city, to push it towards the Now, way forward from the 19th century when BZ, the lost Mughal, wrung his hands and wrote sad poems; and the mid-20th when Madhur Jaffrey’s brothers went huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’ by the Jumna.

More than Funjabis
It isn’t just the Muslims, Kayasths and post-47 Funjabis in Delhi. There have been Bongs, Biharis, North-Easties and Southies in the fruit chaat since decades. Long enough to be counted.

My point: this is the Rajdhani. It belongs to everybody. So why just chhole-bhature and alu-bervi when Bollywood depicts Delhi as though the rest were invisible? Almost a case for ‘No Taxation Without Representation’, no?
All I’m saying to Rakaysh Mehra and friends is, for the next film either hire the monkey from the Tamil Sangam in Ramakrishnapuram or shoot song sequences in Chitto Park with dancing EPDPs — East Pakistan Displaced Persons, but who seems to care? — or perhaps with the kawariyas from Bihar. Otherwise, there will be danga-fasaad on the streets. And this time, if the NSG plane is late, the ‘impartial’ Tamil Nadu riot squad (rushed in whenever Delhi used to break out) won’t help.

First Published: Feb 25, 2009 18:16 IST