Wednesday, February 25, 2009

An affection quite ‘daffatan'

For the uninitiated the word ‘daffatan’ means ‘suddenly’. And the reason I blog about this word is since it appears in one of the soundtracks of the Hindi movie ‘Delhi 6’ with lyrics by Prasoon Joshi and music by the Academy award winner AR Rahman. Now, I don’t normally get verbose about movies and/or music since well, I don’t get impressed by either of these too easily. Given the limited number of quality stuff that the Hindi film industry produces every week, it is not too hard to wonder why my affection towards its consistently inconsistent quality isn’t too intense. But then, there are the odd ones that appear like a swaying oasis in the middle of a mercilessly parched desert. The ones that make you smile. The ones that remind you that there are still those who understand the meaning of dreams and who know how to paint them in shades that can be innocently subtle yet extremely coherent. The ones that tug at your heart the moment you see them not just with their melody but with the context in which they are portrayed on the silver screen.

After watching the movie and making what I could make out of it, I couldn’t help but keep going back to this song’s choreographic elegance and simplistic beauty. Now, being from the land that is infamous for loud and colorful celebrations that pass off as 'songs' accompanied by numerous chorus dancers who gyrate in sync with the leading faces, I know only too well a sensitive peace of work when I see one. And this piece, ‘Dil gira daffatan…’ is definitely one of those. The only other time I remember appreciating such finesse in the vision of a movie maker was in Farhan Akhtar’s classic human drama of contemporary India – ‘Dil Chahta Hai’. The song ‘Kaisi hai yeh rut…’ was so wonderfully shot that it brought back a thousand dreams to life. Similarly, ‘Dil gira daffatan…’ brings to life not just dreams but a unique concoction of the protagonist’s past, present and possibly the future. A rare mix of emotions that make this presentation such a special one.

What struck me as amazing was the attention to detail given in the song's scenes. Everything from the jalebi-wallah’s deep fried sweetmeats to the scene where a bizarre matrix of Delhi-wallahs and foreigners gather to celebrate the birth of a calf with its well-adorned mother standing next to it in the middle of a street that looks like an interesting cross between New York and Old Delhi. Ah, I thought. Could there be a better metaphor for India? A meeting of such diverse cities as one common ground? Unlikely is it not? What also adds to this painting like creation is the fact that it stitches in everything the protagonist (Roshan) knows about himself and is in the process of discovering. From the generously gaudy Ram-leela mandali to the eloquently exuberant banyan tree with bells of a million prayers hung all around it. Everyone from the dubious monkey man to the ignored fakir with the mirror is showcased tastefully at the right spots during the sequence. A vision, as it seems, that proudly sticks out as overwhelmingly as the immaculate shot of the Statue of Liberty right in the heart of a dizzy looking Chandni Chowk! A photograph that combines the breathtaking scenes of a buzzing Times Square-like place with lazily moving cycle-rickshaws and make shift tea-stalls peppered all over it. Just one word – beautiful. If not for anything else I hope people will remember ‘Delhi 6’ for this extremely sensitive and well executed portrayal of a man and his mixed bag of unforgettable memories.

See below the video of the song ‘Dil gira daffatan…’


2 reflections:

Reshma Anand said...

Not many people liked Delhi 6. I liked it for much the same reasons as you mention in your post. One of those movies...where the more you think about it...the more it grows on you. I liked the detail it has - things we have all seen but not attributed much meaning to...the mad man on the street holding a mirror to your face...the shots at the end where people peer into that mirror and see a reflection of their inner selves. Some suspicious, some hesitantly accepting. Its leaves one with a lot of food for thought.

ShaK said...

@Reshma Anand

Thank you for the much appreciated comment, Ms. Anand. I am glad you liked the review and thanks for voicing it too. I agree with you on the metaphorical references the movie contains on the various pivotal points of our society. Food for thought, indeed.