Director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra confessed he couldn’t handle the failure of Delhi-6. The film, which released 2009, featured Abhishek Bachchan and Sonam Kapoor in the lead roles. The movie wasn’t critically well-received and did not live up to box office expectations either. The filmmaker recalled turning to alcohol, adding that he wanted to drink himself to death.
Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra revealed what happened in the aftermath of Delhi-6’s failure in his autobiography, The Stranger in the Mirror, co-written by Reeta Ramamurthy Gupta. He said that he was in a dark place for six months.
“The film opened on Friday, 20 February 2009, to a great response. By Sunday, we had done over ₹40 crore of business, but then came Monday, and the audience just vanished from the theatres. I was devastated. Was it too dark a reality for them? Were they unable to identify with the protagonist? The box office debacle, and my own conflict with what ending was appropriate, shook me deeply. Was I capable of producing great cinema consistently? Was Rang De Basanti a fluke?” he said in the book, as reported by a leading daily.
He also wrote about the critics’ reaction, the death threats he got and more. “I was going deeper and deeper into a dark hole. Unable to take it anymore, I drowned myself in alcohol,” he said, and added, “I wanted to drink myself to death — to sleep and never get up. I could see how much pain I was bringing to Bharathi (his wife) and our daughter, Bhairavi, who was now in her pre-teens. My son Vedant was observing and things were eroding between us. I remained careless and insensitive to the people I loved the most,” Rakeysh added.
The filmmaker said that his wife helped him see reason and six months later, he woke up and called the film’s cinematographer Binod Pradhan. He told him about the original script, in which Abhishek’s character is beaten to death as against the one that featured in the version released in theatres. The duo, along with his wife Bharathi reworked the ending and the film was submitted to the Venice Film Festival, where it was well-received. Despite the failure, Delhi-6 won two National Awards that year – best production design and the Nargis Dutt Award for best feature film on national integration.
Earlier this year, Abhishek had spoken about the alternate ending. Speaking with Film Companion, he said, “Originally, Roshan was supposed to die. And Chintu uncle (Rishi Kapoor) threw a tantrum about the ending saying, ‘How can he die? You have to show hope’ and I just had a flight to catch.”