Largely, a welcome bellyful
1 July 2011
Movie: Delhi Belly
Movie review by Mathures Paul
IT represents young urban India, so rest assured that Delhi Belly works. Consider this: Seven of 10 youngsters are not fluent in their mother tongue and their favourite pastime is having rowdy conversations over expensive coffee that they consider roadside tea. Again, the distinguishing factor behind every Indian city has been blurred by the demand list of any 20-something. High on their list are sex, raunchy English jokes and cashless trading.
Even two decades ago, watching a Woody Allen or Nora Ephron film required a fairly good understanding of New York culture. Thanks to reverse migration, third-generation NRIs are developing scripts that are being planned in English but executed for Hindi-speaking audiences. Aamir Khan’s latest production doesn’t make this mistake. His company, in fact, has a strong marketing arm. Delhi Belly was conceived and executed for English-speaking viewers whose Hindi vocabulary is restricted to “Beh*** k* l****”. The logic is simple ~ instead of selling 10 cheap tickets, concentrate on two blokes with money to burn.
Abhinay Deo’s second film (though Game was shot later but released earlier) has a great fun-loving young cast ~ Imran Khan (Tashi Malhotra), Vir Das (Arup), Poorna Jagannathan (Menaka), Kunaal Roy Kapur (Nitin Malhotra) and Shenaz Treasurywala (Sonia). Unlike Aamir Khan’s previous productions, this one doesn’t have social messages. There is none of the city-centric sub-plots that permeate Dhobi Ghat. Delhi Belly is an out-and-out fun movie that uses crass humour to keep a small (but cash-rich) group of viewers rolling in the aisles.
From the first appearance of Tashi to his interactions with snobbish fiancée Sonia (who is also a “carrier” for a Russian smuggler) and stupid banter with his other “chick” (Menaka) to the incident where a bag of expensive diamonds gets traded for another containing a stool sample, the story flows freely. To keep the plot light, Deo even throws in a bad bout of diarrhoea after eating tandoori chicken. All this is done in Tarantino style (especially when a bunch of mobsters hound Tashi and gang) with sub-plots getting cut and joined randomly but without killing the big idea.
As far as a film about “nothing” is concerned, this is in the top five. If Imran Khan is “sweetly” nonsensical, his friend Vir Das (in real life a standup comedian) can crack jokes while maintaining a poker face. The harshness of Delhi comes through Tashi’s other roommate, played by Kunaal Roy (the man with Delhi belly). But putting in a fantastic effort is Poorna Jagannathan. She is witty, insensitive and oddly lovable. Equally outstanding is Vijay Raaz, the mafia leader. Making Khan’s production outstanding is the script (by Akshat Verma), artwork and cinematography.
The downsides come in the form of the crudeness of the second half (though there is no interval) and the “item song” featuring Aamir. Make no mistake, Aamir is great as the harebrained disco dancer but the video was unnecessary. Also, the film fails to target the over-40 crowd. Finally, however well composed the soundtrack, one cannot ignore the way Ram Sampath has been inspired by George Michael, The Temptations and Robbie Williams.
Delhi Belly will be appreciated by a large section of viewers who don’t think twice before asking, “Are rounded collars too formal?” It’s a fashionable film for fashionable youth.