I enjoy R-rated (or in desi terms, rated A for Adult) films, for the fact that they give the filmmaker, the sort of independence, to portray characters and situations as real as possible, without any restrictions to fit into a set of rules of dos and don’ts. It is the same reason why movies such as the Godfather, Hangover, Tarantino movies or Guy Ritchie Brit-gangster flicks, which are layered with violence, blood and abusive language at the drop of a hat, manage to stand out as movies that are quoted repeatedly, as well as discussed over and over again, over a pint at the pub. To have restricted them to a lower rating would be like clipping their wings. Having said that, an R-rating doesn’t necessarily mean that every single word in the script needs an expletive suffix replete with F-bombs. Debutante director Abinay Deo’s DELHI BELLY is a mix of the two. There is enough potential and it also delivers the goods as a quality Rated R comic thriller, but at times, it falls prey to a contrived script written to ‘please’ a certain audience – that audience which gives a wolf-whistle when a rhyming curse word is uttered. But that does not take away most of the goodness from what DELHI BELLY achieves over its 90+ minutes, and there’s plenty of that.
The opening title credits settle on a frame of a hairy bum crack. The setting is a filthy, dirty and ‘messy to the brim’ flat, waiting to collapse, being shared by the lead trio – Tashi Dorjee Lhatoo (Imran Khan playing a Bhutani? Doesn’t seem right!), Nitin Berry (Kunal Roy Kapoor) and Arup(Vir Das). Tashi is a Times of India journo and Nitin is his accompanying photographer on a rusty scooter and Arup is a cartoonist. Tashi is caught between a relationship with a marriage notice, his boss at work Menaka(Poorna Jagarnnathan), and somehow the trio find themselves caught in between a smuggler web because of diamonds that they are unknowingly supposed to deliver. There is the expected chase to survive, making money on the way, and of course enough boom, bam, kisses and slams to keep you engrossed. And as they say, what matters is the journey, not the destination. With an appetite for munching down all possibilities of toilet humour that can be thrown at the audience, DELHI BELLY rolls from corner to corner with desi versions of the F-bombs.
If you go by the name, DELHI BELLY on its exterior, does not quite serve as a DELHI based story, apart from the minor nudge-nudge references to sign boards of Vasant Vihar and the Old Delhi roof top view (you know the one where Abhishek Bachchan does a freerunning exhibit in Delhi 6). But even so, there are some scenes which boldly shout out ‘Ye Dilli hai mere yaar!’. The sub-plot of Menaka’s boyfriend trying to hunt down Tashi and Menaka, as his sidekicks drive down the streets, reminds me of ‘No One Killed Jessica‘. This is a man who has a gun in his hand, a bloated ego and power in his head and believes that he is above the law. The whole – Tu jaanta nahi main kaun hu – attitude is what represents the rich and elite spoilt brats of the political capital who believe that they can buy expensive lawyers and hence buy their innocence, no matter what. And then there’s collapsing buildings, GB Road scandals of a landlord, street stalls not so high on hygiene and loots at Jewellery shops of Zhaveri Bazar by three burqa clad ..ahem..ladies. Now THAT is so Delhi!
The ladies – Shehnaz Treasury (she’s dropped the ‘wallah’, possibly fearing that Anil Kapoor would start screaming her last name out loud) as well as Poorna Jagarnathan, merely serve as elements of raunchy scenes ( one of them being oral sex, the other being a fake moaning ritual). The lead trio is at the top of their game. Vir Das is wicked and snappy with his lines, whilst Imran Khan is just passable (No, I don’t think this was award winning material as far as acting was concerned). Of the trio, Kunal Roy Kapoor stands out as the most ‘natural’ as he struggles between attending to his nature’s call, and delivering the best lines in the movie. But it is the movie’s villain, Vijay Raaz ( aka PK Dubey from Monsoon Wedding ) who steals the show with his cold and deadpan portrayal of the diamond gangster. The man has got immense screen presence, and the sort of image that commands absolute attention. He calls out ‘Bunty’ and an immediate whack lands on the face, and you believe what you see. Someone collect all the awards and give it to him already.
The music is outstanding and composer Ram Sampath deserves a big pat on his back for this one. He’s for sure receiving the RD Burman Filmfare Award next year. Although the movie has almost no explicitly playbacked songs, the songs serve as a driving force with the narrative. Whilst the entire nation and beyond continues to swoon to the catchy tune of DK Bose, the remaining tracks of the soundtrack have more to offer. The title credit track – Saigal Blues, serves as an epilogue to the plot, whereas Nakkad Wale Disco gives a market feeling of Zaveri Bazar. There is even a reference to the competition song featuring the immortal trumpet track by Manohari Singh in RD Burman’s awesome Competition medley from Nasir Hussain’s (Aamir Khan’s uncle) Hum Kisi Se Kum Nahi. The very rock and heavy – Jaa Chudail, which has Vir Das in an Elvis suit, as a character called Disco King, is a brilliant concept and something which leaves me asking for more as it is quite abruptly ended (please make a full video of this). But quite surprisingly, I hate you( Like I love you) featuring Item boy, Aamir Khan as a love-child of Bappi Lahiri and Mithun da( no, don’t think in those terms please) dressed in bling, Austin Powers chest hair, and what not, is an awesome nod to the 70’s shiny disco ball theme. Unfortunately, it is an end credit showdown, and somewhat steals the thunder of the awesome climax.
Nevertheless, apart from a few annoyances of a-bit-more-than-needed farts and dropping sounds, the film triumphs like the lead trio, who manage to finish off the baddies, and even get the girl. Certainly not a family entertainer, and if you are quite easily offended by abusive language, then stay the fuck out of this . If not, then this is the sort of movie which will breeze through with its catchy urban language and entertain you through and through. Now, how many movies can claim of being able to do that these days, eh?
OKS Rating: 3.5 “Jhumke” out of 5