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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Delhi Belly - Exclusive Movie Review

By Taran Adarsh, June 30, 2011 - 12:37 IST

Much before I watched DELHI BELLY, I was told very categorically that the film will reduce to rubble the image of Aamir Khan, the producer, which he has very painstakingly and meticulously built over the years. I disagree with this viewpoint. Sure, Aamir Khan steps into a territory that is least expected of him. Agree, DELHI BELLY is expletive-ridden, has several scandalous moments which give you a 440 volt ka jhatka and is just not for the faint-hearted. But DELHI BELLY is not outrageous just for the sake of it. It doesn't shock for effect. The truth is, DELHI BELLY has a novel story to tell and the cuss words/outrageous moments are integral to the plotline and have been juxtaposed seamlessly in the narrative.

Let me introduce you to DELHI BELLY. It is Bollywood's most daring, cheeky, irreverent, blasphemous, raunchy youth film to date and the lurid content, I am certain, has never been witnessed on the Hindi screen before. Even some hugely popular reality shows that have the participants using the most appalling, colorful lingo to garner attention and TRPs, would pale into insignificance. Belonging to the same genre as THE HANGOVER and LOCK, STOCK & TWO SMOKING BARRELS, DELHI BELLY is the ultimate culture shock for Indian audiences. It is a raucous, boisterous, potty-mouthed caper featuring the antics of three hapless young men.

DELHI BELLY is a verbally explosive comical crime-caper, with a smart screenplay and witty dialogue as its aces. It is funny, has a lot of energy and most importantly, as you protest that Hindi movies thrive on beaten-to-death formula, a film like DELHI BELLY defies the stereotype and comes alive with a brand new recipe [writer: Akshat Verma]. The writing is airtight and the movie moves from one episode to another furiously. Original in style and thoroughly entertaining, backed by colorful characters and superior acting, there's no film quite like this one or should I say, there is no film that matches the sheer brilliance of DELHI BELLY. It's a top-quality comical thriller made with guts and gusto. I can assure, you will exit the auditorium with a grin on your face.

If a film like DELHI BELLY works -- which I am sure, it will -- it will propel film-makers to explore this untapped genre of cinema. It will encourage them to push the boundaries and undertake risks. It will usher in a new era of comedies of this kind that have never been explored on the Hindi screen.

Tashi [Imran Khan], Arup [Vir Das] and Nitin [Kunal Roy Kapur] -- flat mates, buddies and partners in crime. Tashi is to get married in a month to the glamorous Sonia [Shenaz Treasury]. Arun has been dumped by his girlfriend and also has an annoying boss [whose idea of creativity is sketching a smiling banana]. And Nitin is about to discover that eating delicious Tandoori Chicken off a street vendor is going to give him the worst case of Delhi Belly he's ever known!

Three regular blokes lead a regular life, except when they get on the hit list of a deadly crime syndicate [Vijay Raaz].

Director Abhinay Deo and writer Akshat Varma may have been inspired by the adult comedies of Hollywood, but DELHI BELLY is an Indian film at heart. The characters are very Indian and the humor, equally desi. As a matter of fact, there are situations and dialogue that the desis would take to instantly -- it's inherently Indian. Aimed squarely at the youth brigade, DELHI BELLY makes an undisguised, earnest attempt to woo this segment of moviegoers. What really works is its screenplay that packs one twist after another. You are as clueless as the on-screen characters about what's in store next. Also, the humor is very on the face and sardonic. It's not one of those humor-laden films that we've been subjected to of late. Here, the makers don't underline a joke, you need to be intelligent enough to comprehend it. This film speaks a language that the youth would connect with instantly and perhaps, it may go down as a cult film in its genre.

In terms of visuals, DELHI BELLY has been filmed at real locations and the DoP captures the essence of Delhi extremely well. The eye-candy locales are clearly missing here. Instead, what we get to watch are real locations, real lower middle class surroundings and the crammed bylanes of Delhi.

Much has been said and spoken about the music of DELHI BELLY. Let me add my bit. After delivering a likeable score in LUV KA THE END, Ram Sampat goes completely innovative and inventive with the soundtrack of this film. 'DK Bose' stands out and is the anthem of the youth. 'Jaa Chudail' is peppy and energetic, while the Aamir Khan track in the end credits ['I Hate You'] is more of a tribute to the disco era of the 1980s, when the Bappi-Mithun combo reigned supreme.

On the flip side, a film like DELHI BELLY may not be savored and relished by everyone. It's not for, what we label in filmi parlance, 'family audiences'. In fact, it might get a bit embarrassing to watch a film like DELHI BELLY with one's family thanks to the generous usage of expletives and toilet humor. Also, the hugely popular 'DK Bose' and 'Nakkaddwale Disco, Udhaarwale Khisko' songs merely play in the background and I for one sorely missed the eye-catching videos of these two tracks in the movie.

DELHI BELLY is a boy's film predominantly [although the women have key roles to play] and boy's films are always fun. The chemistry between the three actors is what makes the script come alive. In fact, I won't be wrong in stating that their sense of humor is very much in sync with each other. This is Imran's best work to date, no two opinions on it. Vir Das is incredible. Kunal Roy Kapur is the scene-stealer actually. As a matter of fact, the performances by these three actors will be the talking point once the film releases.

Shenaz Treasury acts well. Poorna Jagannathan gets into the skin of the character and catches your eye. Vijay Raaz is exceptional. Paresh Ganatra [the landlord] is equally competent. Rahul Singh is perfect. The Aamir Khan song is imaginatively filmed.

On the whole, DELHI BELLY is a ground-breaking and inventive comic caper targeted at the youth brigade. People who can't absorb brazen, grimy and unabashed language might abhor it; in fact, it's not for the straitlaced moralists or purists. It's for those who have a strong belly, with an appetite for adult comedy and cuss words. Its wittiness may astound and astonish you. I viewed the Hinglish version, but I understand that the Hindi interpretation of the movie is so impactful that it renders you speechless. Eventually, DELHI BELLY works big time predominantly for the reason that it's a pioneering motion picture, an incredible film that dares to pierce into an untapped and brand new terrain. The unblemished, racy screenplay coupled with super performances and a chartbusting musical score will make it a WINNER all the way.

A landslide of catastrophes keeps three hapless roommates one small step ahead of jealous boyfriends, faithless lovers, zealous cops and gun-toting gangsters in "Delhi Belly," a smartly paced, highly entertaining Bollywood gagfest. No comic masterpiece, perky pic nevertheless boasts likable characters, colorful villains, well-timed gags and Ram Sampath's extremely catchy tunes, all woven into a seamless, escalating whole. This mostly English-language item, opening internationally July 1, should score well domestically and triumph in the diaspora, but will require considerable critical and promotional support to cash in on its inherent crossover appeal.
A rundown Delhi apartment is home to Arun (Vir Das), an artist toiling unappreciated in an advertising agency; Nitin (Kunaal Roy Rapur), a photographer and sometime blackmailer; and Tashi (Imran Khan), a fledgling reporter about to get married. This particular day finds each roommate wrestling with personal demons: Arun's beloved girlfriend has suddenly dumped him, Nitin's impulsive indulgence in street food has given him a noisy, noxious case of Delhi belly, and Tashi finds himself in a high-speed car chase, dodging bullets from the jealous ex-husband of his amused, platonic colleague Menaka (Poorna Jagannathan). All the while, Tashi is second-guessing his commitment to fiancee Sonia (Shenaz Treasury), who expects him to give up journalism and join her father's firm.

But all this mounting angst and uncertainty pales next to the big-league calamity that awaits them. Sonia's favor to a friend and the mix-up of a stool sample and a Russian doll full of diamonds land the three buddies on the wrong side of an international smuggling ring headed by sinister crime lord Somayajulu (Viray Raaz), who shamelessly grandstands to his audience of minions as he demands to know the missing jewels' whereabouts.
Sophomore scripter Akshat Verna has crafted a tightly interconnected screenplay in which every element satisfyingly hooks back into the action. Even the, er, running scatological gag concerning Nitin's gastric difficulties, which takes on surprising levels of complexity, interfaces significantly with the main plot.

Musical numbers in particular carry a pleasurable no-gag-left-behind feel. Tashi first meets Menaka at an interview with an airhead star whose future project, a song inanely titled "I Hate You (Like I Love You)" sparks instant sardonic kinship between the journalists. Later, of course, the tune returns as a megahit, hilariously interpreted by none other than pic's superstar producer Aamir Khan.Sophomore helmer Abhinay Deo keeps the action flowing swiftly, maintaining breathless momentum without giving short shrift to character nuances.

Camera (color, widescreen), Jason West; editor, Huzefa Lokhandwala; music, Ram Sampath; production designer, Shashank Tere; costume designer, Niharika Khan; sound designer (Dolby Digital), Vinod Subramanian, Dwarkar Warrier. Reviewed at 57 screening room, New York, June 17, 2011. Running time: 103 MIN.

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