Delhi Belly: A Review
Delhi Belly – Dir: Abhinay Deo; *ing: Imran Khan, Vir Das, Kunaal Roy Kapur, Vijay Raaz, Shenaz Treasury, Poorna Jagannathan
Oh boy, is this going to be akin to trying to do the flamenco on a floor full of exploding eggshells! Because it’s almost a given, given the nature of the beast that is Delhi Belly, that you’ll up end offending someone no matter what you say, either those who think this outrageously daft little film is some sort of sign that judgment day is upon us, or those who think it’s not fit to be seen in polite company (and it isn’t, unless your circle of polite company includes people who can cuss the ears off a sailor), or those who think it’s the greatest work of raunch since Walter Lantz decided to call his animated avian hero Woody Woodpecker.
Small-time journalist Tashi (Khan) and his slacker-esque roommates Arup (Das) and Nitin (Kapur) loll about their squalid apartment hurling insults at each other and waiting for life to happen to them, which it does when Tashi’s airhostess girlfriend Sonia (Treasury) inadvertently turns them into contraband diamond mules for a mafioso (Raaz), who doesn’t take it too kindly when he instead ends up with the contents of the perennially incontinent Nitin’s stool sample. Needless to say, much expletive-ridden mayhem ensues, in the midst of which, Arup is dumped by his rich girlfriend and fantasises about disrupting her impending nuptials with an unmentionable revelation concerning his unmentionables, Nitin anonymously blackmails the landlord with nudie pics while trying to deal with his explosive rectal issues, and Tashi is waylaid, in a manner of speaking, by salty, corkscrew-haired fellow journo Menaka (Jagannathan). Add to the mix a joke about making earrings out of the family jewels, and the best, funniest visual burqa gag since Saad Haroon’s notorious viral hit ‘Burka Woman’, and you have some idea of what you might be faced with here.
To see puppy-eyed Khan take a bodily fluid-smeared swipe at his chocolaty image is refreshing, but obviously not without peril; not everyone is going to go for this sort of switcheroo, and everyone is certainly not going to display a penchant for the proudly juvenile antics at work here. Writer Akshat Verma and director Deo have thrown caution and good taste to the wind and they are playing with fire a little bit. The faint-hearted might also be scarred for life to know that this unpretentiously dirty film comes from the house of Aamir Khan, whose previous productions have included such earnest fare as Taare Zameen Par and Dhobi Ghaat.
Not to put too fine a point on things, Delhi Belly is NOT a ‘family film’, nor is it for a ‘universal audience’ – it is rude, it is crude, it is potty-mouthed and it has, well, shit for brains, which, as it turns out, is not necessarily a bad thing in this case because it’s also (for some) a toilet bowl-load of fun, fast-paced, tightly scripted and well-acted (Raaz is, as always, a standout). In a similar vein to The Hangover and the Judd Apatow ‘kidult’ comedies, DB is obviously going for an ‘anarchy in Bollywood’ scenario, with its shockingly in-your-face sexual humour and unabashedly irreverent tone. And like its Hollywood predecessors, there is only the remotest of chances that anyone will sit on the fence on this film; you’re either going to slap your knee and guffaw at its unfettered, gleeful celebration of barely-subliminal filth (‘DK Bose’), cunning linguists, and fecal flavoured humour (and I apologise till kingdom come for employing that turn of phrase), or you’re going to cry yourself hoarse and froth at the mouth denouncing the very same. One thing’s for certain though, Delhi Belly cannot and will not be ignored so you’d best be ready to deal with it as it unapologetically farts in your general direction.