Mayank Shekhar's review: Delhi Belly


By Hindustan Times

Director: Abhinay Deo
Actors: Imran Khan, Vir Das, Kunal Roy Kapoor
Rating: ****

Delhi Belly, most would know, is a fairly common bowel problem. Usually firangi, low-budget backpackers get these loosies, when they hang out in Third World countries (like ours), where their food and water supposedly comes mixed with 10 per cent shit. It’s called the Traveler’s Diarrhea. Which is what Nitin (Kunal Roy Kapoor) is apparently suffering from. You’re not surprised. Along with his two lazy buddies, Tashi (Imran Khan) and Arun (Vir Das), this fat beardo lives in a serious dump. Even the apartment’s ceiling could collapse with gentle persuasion, it seems. The room should be healthy habitat for rodents and insects. Water’s in short supply. Nitin relieves himself in the loo, where the metal flush could fall on his head. It does. He cleans himself up with orange juice thereafter; his butt cheeks, he says, are now stuck to each other. Grrrotesque.

His loony loosies in fact is what this film is named after. The movie has little to do with Delhi itself (unlike, say a Band Baaja Baraat, or No One Killed Jessica). It could’ve been set anywhere, unless Raj Palace for Delhi’s Taj Palace counts for much. This story, in any other city, would’ve probably been just as much a rollicking ride.

A film of this Jackie Brown genre usually has a package that a chase is occasionally centred on. Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock, And Two Smoking Barrels is often the chosen, ultimate template for underground cool. Yet, this pic doesn’t seem a fake derivative at all.

There’s a Russian doll in here that the guys in the film have to deliver to a designated address. Between a trip to the clinic and the given address, Nitin’s stool sample gets interchanged with the doll. As the Mafia don (Vijay Raaz: for once, calm and under-stated) patiently spreads out a black cloth to inspect the diamonds he’d ordered, what he finds instead is sticky liquid with a gooey lump of human dung, making a map of Africa, on his desk. Grrross.

Thus begins the daylong chase for the dudes, and the misplaced diamonds. Arun’s a cartoonist with an ad agency. Tashi’s a stringer with a newspaper, who follows both murders and pretty page 3 low-talents for a living. This part isn’t entirely clear. Nitin’s a freelance photojournalist, who could take an odd picture or two at GB Road (the red-light area) to blackmail his landlord. Together, they don’t necessarily compliment each other in the same way, say, the Hangover male trio (Phil, Stu and Alan: father, mother and son) do.

Characters aren’t of much significance still. Casual sketches would do. Unlike Aamir Khan’s previous productions, there’s neither a strong sub-text (Peepli Live) here, nor some deep lyricism (Dhobi Ghaat) to go with. You don’t think. You don’t wish to as well.

A hilarious, situational plot after another, often testing the bounds of delicious profanity -- smartly written (Akshat Verma), dramatically executed (Abhinay Deo) -- is pretty much the point of this pic. Background score bears a touch of Pulp Fiction. ‘Bhaag DK Bose’ (Run DK Bose), based on “Bhaag bh*****ke aandhi aayi”, a popular North Indian expression (DK Bose's an old Delhi joke too), becomes the anthem for these blokes on the run.

They give off a genuine zombie look of people, to whom things just happen. They evidently do nothing themselves. And a whole lot happens within the realm of 98 minutes, non-stop (there’s no interval), adult sex comedy. Which is also in parts cheesy (too many farts); observational (the Kathak dance master cameo); inspired (drinking water from a burkha), with stuff straight out of fine stand-up routines (If a donkey f***s a rickshaw, that’s what you’ll get -- a Santro, that is).

There’s refreshing honesty in a smart madcap movie that never holds itself back. I’m told the Hindi version (this one’s mostly in English) isn’t toned down to lameness either. Finally Aamir Khan walks into the screen, parodying a dance that’s a cross between Travolta and Elvis the Pelvis.

The item number for the single screens was clearly unnecessary. End credits roll. That’s where Aamir deserves to be, right on top, for backing a flick that may hopefully start a good bowel movement at the cinemas (revolutions can happen later): six on six as producer is by no means a mean feat. Super fun. Full respect.