Review: Delhii Heights

Posted on March 31, 2007


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Don’t be fooled by the cast – this relationship drama (or is it relationship comedy?) is as bad as it gets.

APR 1, 2007 – THERE’S only one person you can turn to after experiencing something like Delhii Heights, and that’s Annie Lennox. The futility of it all is enough to make you want to channel not just her song Why, but the howl that she puts into the singing as she makes this one word stretch across seventeen syllables. Wh-aa-aa-aa-aa-aa-aa-aa-aa-aa-yyy? The Pet Shop Boys perhaps offer a close-enough substitute, with What have I done to deserve this? Or if desi music is your thing, Anand Bakshi could be the one, having already articulated your thoughts as you leave the theatre: Yeh kya hua, kaise huakyon hua? At some point, I know I’ve got to stop diddling around and get down to writing an actual review, but let me have some fun first, please? I’ve had none in the past two-odd hours I’ve spent staring at Jimmy Shergill’s hair, its styling clearly inspired by a Lhasa apso after it wandered in the vicinity of an industrial blower. (First Sanjaya Malakar and the ponyhawk. Now this. Come on, pop culture – give us a break!) Shergill plays an advertising man, married to advertising woman Neha Dhupia. (If Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt made a sitcom about this couple, would it be called Ad About You?) She marches ahead while he sulks, whiskey in hand – and the ego problems begin before you can say Abhimaan.

Or maybe you should say Adam’s Rib, where Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn were both lawyers, on opposite sides of the same case. (Here, Shergill and Dhupia battle over the same celebrity spokesperson, played by Surprise Guest Star with the kind of faint-rotten-smell expression we often have when our parents bully us into attending weddings we don’t want to. Clearly, the producers asked him, and he couldn’t say no.) Or maybe you should say Swarg Narak, where one couple had a perfectly decent marriage and ruined it with negativity, while the other couple – the wimpy wife and the womanising husband – saved their on-their-rocks union with a positive attitude. (This other couple is played by Rohit Roy and Simone Singh.) Or maybe you should say Jerry Maguire, where the hero came to his senses and proclaimed his love to the heroine in front of a group of irrelevant lookers-on. Or maybe you should say Silsila, where a man and a woman worked up a flirtatious storm during a Holi song sequence as their respective spouses watched on in embarrassment. Or maybe you should say Parineeta, which opened with such an evocative summary of the ethos of Kolkata, you found yourself salivating even if you couldn’t tell a puchka from a potato. (Delhii Heights attempts a similar paean to the glories of saddi Dilli, but I’m not sure “yahan Shanghai se bhi zyada chow mein banti haiâ€? counts as a compliment.)

The director Anand Kumar has the oddest instincts. He sets up a big mushy speech, then ruins it with corporate-ese. And if you thought nothing kills romance more than references to “professionâ€? and “deadlines,â€? you haven’t seen (music director) Rabbi Shergill pop up beside our hero in his car to voice the latter’s thoughts. Nothing kills romance more than an out-of-nowhere Sardarji dressed in white, strumming a Spanish guitar as his lyrics appear as sub-titles. Shergill’s (Rabbi, not Jimmy) numbers are quite pleasant, but they’re wasted – one of them on a bunch of boys who are written into the film simply because they live in the same apartment complex as our leads. (But this tendency to focus on neighbours does result in the welcome inclusion of Om Puri, who plays a cliché – a Sardarji whose speech patterns reduce naaraaz and zaroor to n’raaz and z’roor – with endearing amounts of hamminess.) The director apparently thought he was simulating reality, for in a conversation that these boys have, a handheld camera starts to alternately pull away and poke into their faces. It isn’t enough that we get a general sense of the badness of their performances; we need to confirm it with tight close-ups. And along with the bad reaction shots and the bad staging, we suffer through bad symbolism too – when Shergill (Jimmy, not Rabbi) is on the road, and his decision to return to his wife is prompted by a traffic sign that says “No U-turnâ€?. And I thought: shouldn’t it actually say “U-turnâ€?, because “No U-turnâ€? means that he won’t turn back whereas what he executes after seeing the sign is… uh, a U-turn. I should have followed his example and done the same at the ticket counter.

Copyright ©2007 The New Sunday Express

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi