When I saw the very first promo of Delhi Belly, I’ve got to admit I wasn’t too excited about it. I’m not a huge fan of toilet humour and I just generally would only have watched it because it was an Aamir Khan production. However, after a whirlwind opening night of the London Indian Film Festival in which Delhi Belly was premiered, I can put my hand on my heart and say that the film entertained and, more importantly, surprised me. A film which was branded from the start as an adult film and a “kamina” comedy, Delhi Belly, quite frankly, is definitely not your average film and it therefore won’t be every cinema-goer’s cup of chai.
The story surrounds three friends played by Imran Khan, Kunaal Roy Kapur and Vir Das. They live together in a hugely unattractive, derelict flat and struggle to pay their rent every month. The three don’t have many similarities between them and manage to get caught up in an ugly situation when, completely by accident, one friend does another a favour, not realising he is mixing up something important. What follows is a wild goose chase, so to speak. I don’t want to give away any of the story because to watch it unfold yourself is just something else.
Perhaps the best thing about the movie for me was how easily the cast fit in to their individual characters. Although it’s true that none of the cast were the first choice for the roles in question, it seems the maker and the actors have very much landed on their feet in this respect. Arguably, there are many highlights to the film but the main one, for me, was Imran Khan. Although I’ve not seen each movie of Khan’s, I was extremely pleasantly surprised to see him pull off a role which I wouldn’t have immediately placed him in. His performance as Tashi is, to put it simply, different to any other role he has played so far and will play in the future. He’s a bit of a recluse who ends up battered and bruised through people he doesn’t even know or have a connection with but he goes about his life what comes across as very casually. Delhi Belly’s humour is not the kind Khan has been seen in before but he very much excels in this role and I hope he will get recognition and praise from all for it.
The other members of the cast as mentioned above as well as the ladies, Poorna Jagannathan and Shenaz Treasury, are also great in their respective characters. It has to be noted that Jagannathan’s character, Menaka, is very non-conventional. She doesn’t conform to the “look” of an Asian heroine in any way and this made her character that much more believable. Shenaz, on the other hand, plays a role suited to her like a tee. Vir and Kunaal are applause-worthy in their roles as Nitin and Arup respectively. In fact, I really can’t see any other actors being as good as they were in these roles. It has to be said that out of the three, Kunaal’s character Nitin is the most interesting and the one which got the most laughs from me. Whether this was because of his underlying theme in the movie (you’ve got to see it to know what I mean) or whether it was simply the way he played the role, he was absolutely excellent – no other way to put it.
Delhi Belly is a film which is very hard-hitting, unapologetic and completely out-of-the-box. It is very different to any other Aamir Khan production and also not like any other film made by Indian cinema today. I would put the credit for this on the shoulders of Abhinay Deo, the director of the film. His vision, his execution and his pride in unfearful cinema stands out like a sore thumb but in a positive way. The film, quite obviously, has had the backing and genius of Aamir Khan but it is very much Abhinay’s baby and no-one should take this away from him. The palette of the scenes, the locations, and the portrayal of potentially serious situations with extremely laugh-out-loud undertones is not easy to achieve but Abhinay seems to do it with ease.
Overall, I’ve got to say that this movie surprised me. I didn’t know quite what to expect from it but I didn’t get any of what I thought I would. Instead, I came out of the film finding myself eager to put pen to paper (or should I say fingers to keyboard) to write about this film which has inspired me. Inspired me in what way, I hear you ask! Inspiration can comes any which way one chooses, it’s all in the mind. Delhi Belly has inspired me not to be scared of who or what I really am because… be it comedy or be it a wild goose chase, life is all about being yourself. To sum it up in one thought… when the screening ended, I wanted to stand up and applaud… and I also turned to my friend and said, “I wanna see this again!”