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<i>Delhi-6</i> stars Abhishek, Om Puri

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By: Subhash K. Jha, IndiaFM
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Rakeysh Mehra is all set to start his auto-biographical film Delhi-6. "I'm quite happy with the way the script has shaped up. I still have to do the final draft. I start early 2007. "Besides Abhishek Bachchan Delhi-6 will star Om Puri, Atul Kulkarni and Divya Dutta. A hunt is on for the leading lady.

"Om Puri is such a gifted artiste! He gave so much to Rang De Basanti in so little space. Atul of course is incredible. As for Divya Dutta she has always been one of my favorites. I was always looking forward to working with her."

Rakeysh Mehra is back from LA after showing his pioneering Rang De Basanti to the Golden Globe jury members. "Do I want Rang De Basanti to win a Golden Globe and Oscar? I don't know how to answer that. When a film goes out to a wider audience it's a very good feeling. Out of ninety Golden Globe members, thirty saw it. For an Indian film that was a good turn-out. And they gave the film a standing ovation. After the screening we had an informal meet-the-press for a good 45 minutes."

Rakeysh represented the film alone at the Golden Globe. "I feel we've lit a fire at the awards. Before going there I was apprehensive. They got the point of Rang De Basanti immediately. The relationship between the Hindu radical (Atul Kulkarni) and the Muslim protagonist (Kunal Kapoor) caught their attention. I guess Islamic fundamentalism is foremost in everyone's mind. World terrorism and the isolation of the Muslim were themes that the American audience understood in my film. More importantly the theme of the lost generation is far more pertinent in the US than out here. As for references to Indian history and our freedom fighters that was a revelation to them. For the Americans, Mahatma Gandhi has always been the face of India. Characters like Chandrashekhar Azad and Bhagat Singh in Rang De Basanti were new to them."

Rakeysh spent two-and-a-half weeks with the legendary script guru Syd Fields. "It was like going back to school...just like Delhi - 6 which will take me back to my childhood. Syd had seen Rang De Basanti. He's a big fan of the film. He pointed out how effortlessly American audiences were relating to it. I told Syd I wasn't a natural writer. He instructed me five days a week, half a day per day. When I was leaving on Wednesday (9 August) I felt rejuvenated. I felt I was re-born as a writer. I always thought writers belong to a different planet. They are gifted. Filmmakers just have to say 'action' and everyone else takes over...Seriously, screenplays have to be collaborative. Most people who wrote solo screenplays have been full-time writers from before. I realized screenplays are as basic as the camera to shoot a film."

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