An exceptionally charming Aamir Khan tries to appease a sullen Kareena Kapoor and when nothing works out, both of them go on to debate over how incompetent her fiancé is while walking in circles, oblivious to the several people around them. Ayushman Khurrana’s Vicky Donor feeds his lady love some burgers as they walk past several giant pillars and the sunlight falls onto her perfect visage, making it look prettier than it already is. Nargis Fakhri dances around like a teenager as Ranbir Kapoor watches her, his eyes glistening with ecstasy and a melodious ‘Katiya Karoon‘ plays in the background. What do these have in common? The same pristine white walls of Connaught Place.
Bollywood producers and directors have always been obsessed with Delhi as a perfect setting for films that are supposed to depict India in all its glory. And when it comes to Delhi, one cannot possibly miss out a shot of Connaught Place. As people who cannot stop loving the city we owe our identities to, we watch our favorite destination come to life on the big screen and cannot help but say: ”Arey, yeh toh CP hai, dekho, main waha pe hi khadi thi, jaha Aamir abhi hai’‘. From Imran Khan to Katrina Kaif, Abhay Deol to Sonam Kapoor, every star has graced the landmark with their presence and the regal air exuded by Connaught Place has only beautified the setting of their films.
Now imagine your favorite actors trying to film a scene in the present conditions that the place is surrounded by. With all the dust, the muck, the muddy water, the pipes, the iron rods and the labourers. Imagine watching Ranbir Kapoor strum on to the guitar as he belts out ‘sadda haq‘ in Central Park under deplorable conditions such as these. Would it then be a feast for your eyes? One could easily mistake the whole setting to be that of a rural area or some construction site in a slum. No sane film-maker would want to use Connaught Place as a background for his/her film considering the fact that it will only ruin the scene rather than make it look appealing. Where has the glory gone? Where has the charm disappeared? We have no one but the system to blame. And for those who run the system, we have ourselves to blame.
I am more than certain that the soul of the Duke of Connaught must be in agony to see the plight of his nemesis. We are a nation that can talk, deliberate and argue but when it comes to taking action, some invisible force freezes us to the spot. The congested traffic, the pan-stained walls, the mosquito breeding grounds and the many pot-holes will only deter another Delhi Belly, another Hazaron Khwahishien Aisi from being a part of Connaught Place and delighting us when we watch them in the theatres. There are innumerable reasons to save this landmark from turning into ashes and the aspect of cinema might be miniscule in comparison, but it sure does provide an incentive for people to come forward and do something to bring about a change. That is the power of cinema.
Hindustan Times has taken a lead on this, to ask the Chief Minister to commit to a deadline and finish up work by that deadline. A petition has been compiled here, for this urgent need of restoration. We urge all citizens to sign it and save CP from turning into a forgotten fragment of the glorious history of Delhi.