Our friend Deepa here in Singapore loaned us her copy of Delhi 6, a 2008 Bollywood movie that explores life in the Old Delhi through the eyes of an Indian guy born and bred in New York City. The movie was able to recreate a lot of what we experienced the first few times we visited the Old City: the sheer joy of the aural chaos, the transcendent sights that appeared and disappeared before we could lift our camera to capture it, and the baffling deference everyone showed to cows.
But the best part of the movie was the song Dil Gira Dafatan (by A.R. Rahman, who scored Slumdog Millionaire), in which the hero and the heroine are transported to a magical Delhi-meets-New-York mash-up: it’s Times Square populated by Delhiites. And for the first half, it’s amazing. (Once they release the dove, it gets pretty low-rent.)
Here’s the full video, which we can’t embed on this page for some reason; you should watch the whole thing.
Not counting the poorly-executed Hanuman, the cheesy dove, and the whole King Kong thing, this scene is an absolute masterpiece. We love the multiracial Delhi-style jaywalkers dodging both autorickshaws and NYC taxis, dressed like they’re in New York but moving like they’re in New Delhi. They’ve got nuns genuflecting before cows, jalebis being sold by fruit vendors, and breakdancers grooving to a wedding band. They even have midwestern tourists in bicycle rickshaws!
This scene has elements of perfection. It gets us nostalgic for two cities at once, capturing the nuances of two cities that we’ve called home. We can’t wait to go back — to both.