Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

March 30, 2007

Height of patience!

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 6:27 pm

March 30, 2007

Cast: Jimmy Shergill, Neha Dhupia, Om Puri, Rohit Roy, Simone Singh, Vivek Shauq, Kamini Khanna

Director: Anand Kumar

Delhii Heights is a slice-of-life drama about the residents of an upscale building complex in the Capital. The film focuses on the personal ups-and-downs of the families that comprise this motley group. Leading the pack are Jimmy Shergill and Neha Dhupia who play a married couple working in rival advertising companies. They’re a couple that must deal with professional rivalry and trust issues just months into their marriage. The other characters in this story include a philandering husband and his long-suffering wife, a middle-aged couple planning their daughter’s wedding, a jovial neighbour who’s been operating as a bookie, and a group of teenage boys who spend all their time chasing pretty young girls in their neighbourhood.

Now there’s no real plot to this film, evidently it’s positioned itself as a character-driven picture, but in that respect it falls flat on its face because the rule for any character-driven film is that its characters be interesting enough to be able to pull the film purely on their strength, but the characters in Delhii Heights are dull, uni-dimensional and have no personality at all.

The script is a gross miscalculation on the part of the film’s director and its writers as it fails to establish the sense of community that it’s going for. Delhii Heights struggles to set itself up as an ensemble piece about a close-knit group of neighbours and friends, but dancing together at a neighbour’s wedding or gathering at one of their homes to watch a cricket match is just too superficial, and sadly it’s not enough to suggest that sense of kinship. The issues and concerns that the protagonists of Delhii Heights are confronted with seem so trivial and domestic that you’re tempted to dismiss it as a television serial in the guise of a feature film. But truth is, even soaps today have begun to go beyond those traditional themes of domestic squabbles and cheating spouses. What’s worse about this film is the carelessness in its execution.

Random scenes are slapped together one after another, with obvious disregard to the viewer’s attention or intelligence. The film’s editing is choppy to say the least, and its camerawork so arbitrary and amateurish that your head hurts each time the camera zooms in unnecessarily into Neha Dhupia’s nostrils, or Jimmy Shergill’s golden-dyed hair.

The film’s soundtrack by Punjabi artiste Rabbi is average at best, except for his immensely popular Tere Bin number in which he appears himself as a ghostly figure in white strumming a guitar.

Delhii Heights fails because very little thought seems to have gone into its making. If it’s trying to fit in among the new breed of realistic, non-formula films, then someone please tell me why Jimmy Shergill does the full-throttle Bollywood number, dramatizing every sigh and pause, and delivering his lines so theatrically that you suspect he’s going for an Oscar nomination. Case in point is that climax scene in which he begs his wife to return home — I can’t remember a performance in recent weeks that has made me cringe with embarrassment like this one did.

As for capturing a taste of Delhi life, forget it, because barring a few moments here and there — like that scene in which a neighbour planning his daughter’s wedding insists he wants a discount on soft-drinks, or that other scene where two neighbours sit guzzling Scotch and munching farsaan in a car in their parking lot — which distinctly bear the Dilli chhaap, this could be a film set anywhere in the world really — Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore or Southall.

I’m going to go with one out of five and a thumbs down for director Anand Kumar’s Delhii Heights, it’s a mangled mess of a film that can really come of only one good use — therapists could use it as a test of patience for people working on their anger management. If you can sit through a whole screening of this film without tearing out your seat, then I salute you, my friend… And if you really want to see a good film that’s inherently Delhi, then go watch that incredible comedy Khosla Ka Ghosla all over again.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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