If you are given the opportunity to attend opening night at the London Indian Film Festival 2011 (LIFF) what would you do? Now if I said that the opening night of the festival was also the premiere of Aamir Khan’s Delhi Belly would the reaction be different? I thought so, which, is why I literally jumped out of my seat when my wonderful editor asked if I was free to attend. Now it would be fair to say that if you are a member of the Bollywood junta you would have found it difficult to escape all the news, gossip and controversy surrounding the film so it is fair to say that I had mixed expectations from the film. Aamir Khan’s declaration that Delhi Belly was going to ‘destroy the image created in 10 years’ caught my eye. News about him requesting the censor board to pass the film with an ‘A’ certificate thus avoiding any cuts to the film managed to raise an eyebrow but we all know what an amazing marketing genius Aamir really is I mean who can forget the Ghajini haircut every cinema usher in India sported in 2008. So deep down I was expecting all this to start appearing in the press and the media. Having said that, I can also add that my curiosity was aroused, and we all know what happens to the cat when that happens.
So what happens when you bring together a cast that has never worked collectively before (excluding mama – bhanja duo Aamir and Imran)? Simply put – Delhi Belly happens. Without giving to much away Delhi Belly is about three best friends/room mates Tashi (Imran Khan), Nitin (Kunal Roy Kapoor) and Arup (Vir Das) and the situations they find themselves in.
On the verge of entering supposed martial bliss, Tashi is unsure whether his girlfriend is ‘the one’. Arup’s problem is he wants to murder his girlfriend who’s has just dumped him and his boss who idea of creativity centres around a smiling banana. He just doesn’t know in which order it should happen. Food lover Nitin on the other hand doesn’t know the nightmare situation he is going to enter by eating a tandoori chicken bought from a street vendor whose hygiene is shown in the most graphic detail. Throw in a bunch of criminals who start to chase our trio and you have Delhi Belly.
Inspired by Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Delhi Belly’s story has been written by Akshat Verma, who has managed to give the film a distinctive sense that is unique to the film without taking anything away from the original. This has largely been done through the strong characterisations in the film and the original and inspired situations that the three friends encounter.
The language of the youth in India today has been captured perfectly. Delhi Belly dares to show a side of the youth in India today that is not sugar coated as is shown in majority of the Bollywood films. This has not only added a sense of realism to the film but allowed the most gross and serious scenes in the film to be captured humorously making ways for smiles and laugh out loud moments.
The Delhi Belly script is the true hero of the film alongside the dialogues. The one liners in the film are not only ingenious but entertaining in every sense of the word. I can only say that the 19 drafts that were written by Verma were worth every page.
Abinay Deo’s second venture as the director is fast and the synchronisation with the screenplay is evident. The plot is not lost anywhere – which is a risk when making films that have an ensemble cast. Deo has managed to pull of a feat that many aspire to but few have achieved.
Delhi Belly was originally supposed to star Ranbir Kapoor and this is a well known fact however Ranbir opted out of the project and after four screen tests Imran managed to bag the role. So I was curious to see how Khan would do in the role. To say I was not disappointed would be an understatement. Imran as confused journalist Tashi is perfect. His attention to detail is clear from the onset and not at all forced. In all honesty you can see him following in Mama Aamir Khan’s pursuit of perfection and that is not necessarily a bad this.
Though the more established name out of the three lead male characters I can say that there is not a single point in the film where Khan overshadows Kapoor or Das. Khan managed to get under the skin of the character to ensure the audience watched Tashi and not Imran.
Vir Das’ portrayal as angst ridden Arup draws plenty of laughs from the audience. His comic timing is nothing short of impeccable and the helpless situations he manages to land himself in are carried out with so much ease that you cannot help but take notice of him whenever he is in any scene.
Kunal Roy Kapoor. The scene stealer of the film. Nitin is without a doubt my favourite character of the film. Kapoor somehow not only managed to land himself with the funniest scenes in the film, but also the funniest dialogues. He stands out in the film purely because of his faultless comic timing, witty expressions and truly unbelievable acting.
Shenaz Treasurywala as Tashi’s ditsy girlfriend Sonia is well cast and does full justice to her role as does Poorna Jagannathan who gives a confident performance as Tashi’s friend journalist Maneka. Returning to the silver screen after a break Vijay Raaz’s straight faced expressions manage to have you in stitches, though one can see why Deo wanted to cast Aamir Khan in the negative role. One can also see the reasoning behind the role being offered to Javed Jaffery had Raaz said no. Having said that – it was a pleasure to see Raaz performing on the silver screen again, and that to in such good form.
The chemistry between all the members of the cast is fantastic, but in all honesty it is the three male leads who steal the show. The entire film revolves around them and their antics and I would love to see them star again in another comedy.
The art direction of the film is good, camera work is perfect as it manages to transport the audience to the situations being shown with ease and the editing is second to none. Though only two of the songs are shown in the film (‘Jaa Chudail’ and ‘I hate you’), all the videos that have been released are well thought out with the choreography being well executed.
Composer Ram Sampath has experimented with the music and provided the audience with atypical lyrics. The fact that the songs play in the background act only to aid the narrative and pace of the film.
Delhi Belly is not without its faults. I have to mention that it is not your typical Hindi film. Some will either love this or hate this. The concept is not entirely original. It is not the first time that a Hindi film has been inspired by Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
There are also a few holes in the script that are glaringly obvious when seen as visual situations on the screen. The film is also part of a new trend that seems to be emerging with crossover cinema with the film being 80% in English and 20% in Hindi, and that 20% is Hindi swear words. This means that Delhi Belly is a film that is best suited to the urban classes, which rules out all of rural India when it comes to looking at recovery of the Rs30 Crores.
The second point is (and I say point not issue for a reason), that though Aamir and Imran have maintained that the content of the film is only for adults and not kids and there is no obvious skin show, there are a couple of scenes in the film that would make you a little uncomfortable if you were watching them with your parents right next to you.
All in all I would say that Delhi Belly is one of the most original comedies to come out of Bollywood this year and say it is one of this summers must watch films.