Delhi Belly is a film that brings the house down, both figuratively and literally.
The camera scans through the cracked roof and the messy interior of a run-down room, through the musty bathroom and its antediluvian flush, and rests at last on the partly exposed bumline of the fatso who’s going to have the Delhi belly after eating a piping hot fried chicken handmade by a crotch-scratching vendor. Writer and associate director Akshat Verma sure has an imagination to cook up a plot that’s clever and hilarious without ever succumbing to the slapstick.
In this ramshackle room reside three chums - Tashi (Imran Khan), Arup (Vir Das) and Nitin (Kunaal Roy Kapur). Tashi is a journalist with a girlfriend (Shenaz Treasurywala) he doesn’t really want to marry. Arup is a cartoonist in an ad firm, and Nitin a photographer. The plot thickens when Nitin suffers from diarrhoea, and a package containing his shit sample is mixed up with another package containing smuggled diamonds.
In one of the best and yet yucky scenes in the film, the gangster (Vijay Raaz), after receiving the package, lays out a velvety cloth on the table, carefully brushes away the dust, and opens the container and upends it for the glory of sparkling diamonds, but what comes out is slushy shit.
The squeamish souls be forewarned. Delhi Belly is stuffed with scatological gags. There’s more orange juice in the refrigerator than water in the bathroom for the diarrhoeal Nitin to potty wash. And hardly a few reels go by when he isn’t scurrying to a seedy toilet to relieve himself, and also farting liberally on the way. This apart, there’s a lot of risqué humour. Like that scene when Arup, dumped by his girlfriend for a Canadian techie, imagines himself ruining her marriage with a revelation that’s simply ‘blows’ everyone’s mind. A lot of funny scenes involve the gangster Vijay Raaz and his cronies, particularly a nitwit baldie who calls laundry “lundry” and is caught up in the confusion of putting on and then taking off the gun silencer when the moment comes to pull the trigger.
Performances are pretty spot on. Imran Khan doesn’t crack much humour, but is verily the non-committal guy with the gumption to take on a gangster or rob a jeweller or simply concuss an irate brat with a flower pot. Vir Das does chip in humour in the edgeways but it is Kunaal Roy Kapur who takes the cake with his creditable portrayal of an immoral, blackmailing, shrewd character with an upset tummy. A special mention for Vijay Raaz and his gang of oddballs. Raaz is decidedly amusing yet has a subdued menacing streak. He’s particularly brilliant with the cuss words, which Delhi Belly is generously sprinkled with. Poorna Jagannathan does make her presence felt as Tashi’s colleague.
Songs only play in the background and the cinematography verily captures the essence of downtown Delhi. As someone who has shuffled through the grime of Delhi streets for a good part of struggling life, I did not watch Delhi Belly in its original English version. Nah! The spirit of Delhi, its gullies and gaalis, cannot be captured in a language that’s still at best cosmetic for Indians. You need the absolute vernacular of desi Hindi when mouthing cuss words of the G@, L# and Ch%%% variety. It’s a pity that the film is only dubbed in Hindi, which should have been its original language.
Yet, credit to producer Aamir Khan and director Abhinay Deo for making a film that’s unpretentious, crass, but extremely funny. Yes, it takes a few cinematic liberties which leave you a tad disappointed (like the trio going scot-free after a bloody shootout), but all in all Delhi Belly (Hindi dubbed) is a film that anyone who’s an adult and not a DK Bose, shouldn’t miss.
So don’t think or blink. Just Bhaaag!!!!!!!!!!