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- Published 2.07.11
The advertisements will tell you that Delhi Belly is strictly for adults and that it’s 96 minutes long and that it doesn’t have an interval and that there are two versions — one ‘original’ Hinglish and the other Hindi. But that doesn’t tell you everything. Perhaps you need to keep a few things in mind before buying your ticket this weekend.
1. You may never be able to drink orange juice again. Well, at least, not the way you used to.
2. You may never be easy again with a lady, er anybody, in a burka.
3. Every time your neighbour on the floor above makes a sound, you may run for cover.
4. Your yen for street food will go for a Tandoori toss.
5. And oh, your belly, even if it’s not from Delhi, will be exercised. Severely exercised.
Because Delhi Belly is insanely funny. It is able to create that rare space and feel in a movie hall, where an innocuous frame or an inane line in the latter half of the film can make you go plain hysterical. Every punch gets a clap, every abuse a ceetee and every fart a cheer. And with a heavy dose of flatulence in the film, it’s one noisy time at the theatres. After a long time.
Describing the plot of the film is pointless. Remember Mark Twain’s disclaimer about Huckleberry Finn? “Persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.” There are so many bullets flying around anyway in Delhi Belly, you know, you shouldn’t take a chance. The movie is like the proverbial tumbling tumbleweed which keeps tumbling from one location to another gathering funny characters and funnier situations. You don’t need to know what’s happening to enjoy it but, of course, it doesn’t hurt if you do.
It’s all about a doll. Filled with diamonds, of course! That was supposed to be delivered as a favour to a friend by a girl named Sonia (Shenaz Treasury). She requests her journalist fiancé Tashi (Imran Khan) to deliver it for her.
He asks his photographer-cum-roommate Nitin (Kunaal Roy Kapur) to do the same. But poor Nitin eats the dirtiest Tandoori Chicken in Delhi — it’s actually up for the dirtiest Tandoori Chicken in the country and the world — and his belly gives in.
So, he requests the third roommate Arup (Vir Das) to do the honours. But Nitin also asks Arup to take his dung for a stool test. Yes-yes, the two packages are mixed up and the delectable discharge delivered to the don (Vijay Raaz), leading to, yes-yes, the bhaag bhaag.
Delhi Belly is an ensemble comedy but there’s one clear star. Akshat Verma, the story and scriptwriter, has written an original screenplay, which knows the difference between physical comedy and slapstick humour. He’s come up with this labyrinthine plot with hilarious situations but yet he lends flesh (not just bruised and powdered) and bones (not just funny) to every character.
So, you have Tashi who loves his girlfriend, despite her annoying parents, but can’t help be attracted to this slightly outlandish hottie called Maneka (Poorna Jagannathan), no less.
Arup the cartoonist’s deplorable condition in office is set up in just two scenes where he is first asked to draw a happy banana, because it’s going to be ‘banana split’, and then asked to make it seven per cent sadder, because it’s going to be eaten up!
And then there’s the industrious Nitin who bribes the brothel aunty to click the landlord in the act, so that they can blackmail him and not pay the rent.
These little quirks and off-the-wall sideshows make the rollercoaster ride at the core of Delhi Belly that much more enjoyable and fun. Could it be funnier? Perhaps yes! Adman Abhinay Deo, who started his Bollywood innings on a disastrous note with Game, does far better here but could have done so much more with the tertiary players. He turns the characters of Maneka’s ex-husband, Arup’s girlfriend and her fiance and the landlord’s cop brother into caricatures even though they had the lines and the looks to be memorable characters. [You can make a separate film on each of the side characters of a Coen Brothers’ comedy even if they have just one scene in the movie.]
The language of the film is a key ingredient. Not because there is a lot of bak, bak, bak, but because there is a lot of f**k, f**k, f**k. This Hinglish version boasts of the choicest cuss words in both English and Hindi and truth be told that’s how we the viewers speak off-screen. On screen, they flow naturally into the narrative, as naturally as they do in a Quentin Tarantino or a Guy Ritchie movie. And there is that priceless moment when Imran’s Tashi gets a hard-on when Maneka fake humps him to shoo away an elderly couple. [Yes, Imran may be cool watching DB with his mom, but not many of us would be.]
Imran’s effortlessly good, coming across as an old and rightful resident of this eccentric world of Delhi Belly. Vir and Kunaal are more than just sidekicks, providing some of the film’s funniest moments. Vijay Raaz is in form after a long time. But if you were to pick one member of the cast that stands out, it has to be Poorna Jagannathan as this independent girl of today who initiates not just that fake hump but the real kiss and is completely believable in both.
Ram Sampath’s music is another of Delhi Belly’s triumphs even though you must know that the Bhaag DK Bose song never plays in full and only snatches of the opening bars are used twice in the film. But it’s shadow looms large not only on the screen but also over the audience, that goes into choral harmony every time the background score does a mild tickle with the tune.
The song that is there in full, though, is Aamir Khan’s audacious item number I hate you (like I love you) at the end of the film replete with a faux trailer. Oh, what fun it would be if he were to actually make The Disco Fighter.
For now, bhaag bhaag to a movie theatre near you and treat your Calcutta belly to some laughter. Sach mein, current maarti hai!
Pratim D. Gupta
Is Delhi Belly the funniest modern Bollywood movie you’ve seen? Tell firstname.lastname@example.org
Choreographer Bosco of Bosco-Caesar on making ‘item boys’ Aamir Khan and Ranbir Kapoor dance to their tunes!
I Hate You (Like I Love You) from Delhi Belly
“The song plays just before the end credits roll. You may have seen only 10 per cent of the song (in the promos) but the full song is even more fun! There is a similarity between Aamir’s (Khan) look in I Hate You (Like I Love You) and Vir Das’s look in the song Jaa chudail (in the same film).
“Aamir wanted the song to be a tribute to Mithunda. It belongs to the ’80s genre of dance and music. We had this qawwali in mind but it would have been a cliche to shoot it qawwali-style. So, we gave it a disco flavour. We have created our own little version though — it’s completely Bollywood. Everything is larger than life. You see a lot of pelvic thrusts and there’s more than just the Elvis Presley look, even a bit of the Boney M era.
“Aamir is such a perfectionist — he brings out the best in you. We watched a few videos like Gunmaster G-9 (Surakksha, starring Mithun Chakraborty) and a lot of ’80s songs and moves. We took visual reference points and modernised it. Then the moves were easier. We have made it energetic. Anusha Dandekar also features in the song. And the end result is sure to leave you with a smile on your face.”
Senorita from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara
“All the three boys (Abhay Deol, Hrithik Roshan and Farhan Akhtar) performed really well. The idea was about them barging into a party and getting involved. The song was shot in Spain and the only problem with the dancers was the language barrier. It features a fat momma, a professional dancer who we auditioned with other flamenco dancers. Zoya (Akhtar, director) wanted someone like her. Farhan is very hardworking and Abhay is a little shy of dancing. But they had a blast!”
Tai tai phiss from Chillar Party
“This is another item song (starring Ranbir Kapoor). Vikas (Bahl, one of the directors) wanted to shoot the song on the streets and in one day. It was a bit difficult to execute that on the streets because it involved kids who watch Ranbir perform. The song has a very tapori feel to it. You have never seen Ranbir like this. He is a natural performer.”
As told to Saionee Chakraborty
Which actor would you like to see as item boy? Tell email@example.com