Saturday, 21 February 2009

Make way for Bachchan junior

Charismatic Abhishek Bachchan leads team Delhi-6, writes Sneha May Francis

He came. He charmed. He conquered, well almost!

Bollywood badshaah Amitabh Bachchan’s baccha (son) Abhishek definitely knows a thing or two about wooing the crowd. Sporting a gelled new hairstyle and sleek formal wear, the man completely enthralled the crowd, overshadowing his tall leading lady Sonam Kapoor. Dressed in a gorgeous orange gown with chunky Kundan necklace, and hair pinned up in a curly bun, Sonam skipped the ‘charm’ quotient to take a step behind the sophisticated Bachchan boy.

Director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, dressed in a crisp suit, with his long locks tied away in a pony-tail, took the spot behind the limelight, to let the audience enjoy the celebrity circus. For one, a certain pearly-white feathered Massakkali, the face of all Delhi-6 posters, was truly missed!

Mehra’s Delhi-6 has been the talk of the town, especially since this is his first release after his ‘masterpiece’ Rang De Basanti. The Grand Cineplex was choc-a-bloc with eager fans, who braved the grilling weekday traffic, only to catch a glimpse of their favourites. The hour-long wait came to an end when hysterical screams were heard, signalling the arrival of Bachchan junior. The leading couple walked in true rehearsed starry style, waving out, smiling and generally obliging the crowd to spurts of autograph requests. They walked the red carpet, guarded by beefy bodyguards, and stopped in front of a large black and white canvas with logos of Delhi-6 and Dubai International Film Festival.

The three stood against the massive poster backdrop to satisfy the trigger-happy crowd. The actors were flooded with flash lights, with photographers haggling for a good slot. After countless camera clicks, team Delhi-6 was ushered to the back of the theatre. The chubby bouncers were able to keep the frenzied fans from nudging and inching their way closer to the actors, almost avoiding a stampede! The mesmerised crowd followed the stars, almost missing the entrance of the theatre. It was almost like watching ‘Pied Piper’ Abhishek luring a massive crowd! The madness was over when the stars were safely moved to the dressing room (near the main screen). The retraced their steps to the main entrance, now calm and composed.

Once inside, the audience took their seats without any fuss. The customary introduction took place, after a few hurried talk about the film and its association with the DIFF. Mehra presented his film with a humble few words. “It took me seven years to make Delhi-6,” he claimed, sounding a tad hurtful. “I had approached Abhishek then but it didn’t work out. Rang De Basanti had to happen before and now it’s finally the turn for Delhi-6.” He then introduced the shy Sonam who offered a quick “hope you connect with the film”. But the star of the night was definitely Abhishek. He made a dramatic filmi entry, with Mehra shouting out for him and encouraging the women to join in. Aby baby didn’t disappoint and was at his charming best. He confidently marched in, cracked a few jokes, and threw a few tit-bits about co-star Sonam, even pointing out to her aunt and uncle in the crowd. He humoured the crowd by jumping on the stage only because a lady couldn’t see him clearly. Standing on top of the others, quite literally, he asked “Is it better now?” The crowd was awestruck! He rambled on about Sonam’s talent, urging us to give her a go, and how Delhi-6 is Mehra’s “simple, yet noble story”.

Earlier that evening, he had told me that he talks a lot when he’s nervous. Guessing by his act, I think the man was a tad nervous! A few laughs later, Abhishek jumped back and was ushered to the VVIP seats.

The movie opened to hoots and cheer from the crowd, which almost diminished as the story unfolded. I guess, it’s almost always impossible to better a masterpiece and that’s exactly happened to Mehra. His film received a lukewarm response, some people questioning why it didn’t work. For one, it didn’t have the soul of Rang De. Mehra said the film was about “love” but there was none in his film.

Abhishek may have been the star of the night, but the film was not his. Delhi-6 belongs to its strong supporting cast. Legendary actors like Rishi Kapoor (the charismatic ‘Ali’), Waheeda Rehman (the warm ‘dadi’), Divya Dutta (the tangy ‘Jalebi’), Prem Chopra (the cruel old man), Atul Kulkarni (the striking Gobbar), Om Puri (the strict Madangopal), Pavan Malhotra (as the electrifying Jai Gopal), Vijay Raaz (the menacing cop) and Cyrus Sahukar (the sleazy photographer), among others. Deepak Dobriyal as Mamdu was mindblowing! After the menacing evil guy in Omkara, he continues to fascinate.

It’s Mehra’s semi autobiographical, but Delhi-6 is not Rang De...!

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