A comedy about friendship, Burqa-snogging and... shit.
Delhi Belly (2011)
Directed by Abhinay Deo | India
Written by Akshat Verma
★ Imran Khan, Vir Das, Kunaal Roy Kapur
Aamir Khan can today be called one of the trailblazers of the Hindi comedy film landscape. After the immediate and huge success of 3 Idiots (my very first post on this blog), Aamir decided to produce an even blacker comedy, this time starring his nephew Imran, among others.
What sets Delhi Belly apart from 3 Idiots is its degree of controversy. While the 2009-blockbuster followed just as many Hindi-film formulas as it didn't, Delhi Belly is much more inspired by European and American satires and black comedies such as Borat and others. Even though this very much suits my personal taste, others - especially Indian adults or farmers - might not approve of it.
As the title suggests, the film is set in India's capitol New Delhi, where the three friends and room-mates Tashi (Imran), Arup (Vir) and Nitin (Kunaal) get into a lot of trouble; Nitin has been suffering from the "Delhi Belly", which is a strong diarrhea caused by eating street food, while Tashi is on the edge of marrying a girl that he doesn't know if he loves - and Arup, a graphic designer, is getting harassed by his boss, who can't decide whether the banana should look happy because it is about to get eaten – or sad.
On top of all this, the three amigos eventually get involved into some mafia business, and Tashi falls in love with his co-worker Menaka.
|Happy... sad... happy...?|
Even before its release, there was a lot of trouble about Delhi Belly, caused by the song "Bhaag D.K. Bose", which turns into a popular expletive when you sing it fast. Furthermore, the film was rated "A" (18+) for "adult language and content" - the characters say "fuck" a few times, and there are some very harmless sex scenes. I'm happy not to be an Indian film maker - even though I would have liked to be an Indian teenager for the release of the film. After all, what you don't get is what you want - and it must have been funny to sneak into the theater and get it.
"Bhaag D.K. Bose" is indeed a groovy song, but the absolute sensation of the soundtrack definitely is "I Hate You Like I Love You" and its video at the end of the film - we like you that way, Aamir.
Another treat is Imran Khan, who changed his patented cute-shy-boy into hot-confused-trouble-guy for the movie. We also like you that way, Imran.
The other two fellas were played by more or less newcomers Kunaal Roy Kapur and Vir Das, who both showed some comedic talent. Most convincing was Vir Das, whom I would certainly like to hear more from in the future.
Of course, Delhi Belly can't compare to Borat (to get back to my initial example), but this is an unfair comparison. The film is not an all-through black comedy or satire, but more a light and partly silly comedy with black strokes, whose most important attribute is to be different from the common slapstick features Mumbai produces every year.
I won't deny that the genre is currently evolving – there have been some wonderful comedies in the past 1-2 years, such as Tere Bin Laden, Well Done Abba and Peepli Live. Even among these, Delhi Belly is one of my favorites.
Another thing that I liked about the film is the way it deals with female characters and female sexuality – a hot topic at the time, even before The Dirty Picture came out. The two females in the film are very different from each other: there's Sonia (played by a woman called Shenaz Treasurywala (!)), Tashi's fiancée, who is a loud and spirited shopping-addict from a rich family, and Tashi's co-worker Menaka (Poorna Jagannathan), a boyish modern hippie.
These two characters have something important in common: they're sexually liberated women - at least by my definition. There was one particular scene in the movie, which I believe has never before been shown in an Indian film like that.
All these elements sum up to a very entertaining and funny film that might not feel like something exceptionally new, but something nice and rememberable with strong overseas-potential.