Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Delhi Belly: Belly-ticklingly boisterous

Delhi Belly is a test in how much you can laugh; in fact, it’s a laugh riot that may stand-in for a 96-minute VLCC abdominal work-out, of course without the perspiration! Your belly would literally undergo so many vibrations, you may emerge from the theatre trimmer than before! Delhi Belly is indubitably the best stress-buster to come in a long time. An adult comedy need not always bank upon double-entendre, slapstick and crass humour to draw the guffaws, and thanks to Aamir Khan, Abhinay Deo and Akshat Verma (the story and scriptwriter), the likes of Golmaal, Double Dhamaal, Dhol, etc. would perhaps run for cover now, out of shame. With Delhi Belly, the adult comedy in Bollywood finally comes of age.
Well, it’s a comedy of errors, and what an error to begin with, I swear! It’s gross, but, nonetheless, hilarious, for the whole thing remains so close to reality. Priceless diamonds get exchanged with dung ‘erroneously’, which in turn gets delivered to the devilish don who, of course, is not particularly pleased. And what follows is a roller-coaster ride of bhaag bhaag that barely gives you the opportunity to recover from your splits! The ensemble cast is a clique of men and women extremely identifiable, only that, they are caught up in a funny situation, which is not particularly funny to any of them, really! I believe that is indeed the hallmark of a good comedy. To add to that, like all good comedies, Delhi Belly does make you think, too. May be afterwards. The show ends in several deaths, break-ups and other unpleasant things underlining the darkness that looms large at the heart (read, belly) of the city.
The film begins with a familiar background score from the late 70s which soon reveals its source: the television at the airport airing a Rishi Kapoor track. This very song acts as an intertextual tool that refers back to the movies of the 70s, where the villains were inevitably smugglers. A clichéd theme is taken, given a make-over, and transmuted into a truly contemporary comedy. The tragic underbelly is however hard not to recognize. Violence, lust, covetousness, opportunism, distrust, blackmail, heartbreak, all these are woven into a rich comic texture, but, with a tragic undertone. The film’s greatness lies in operating on black humour without giving an overwhelming feel of it. Therefore, it’s hard not to laugh, but on second thoughts, the darkness does make its presence felt.
Imran Khan, Kunaal Roy Kapoor, and Vir Das make an awesome threesome! Specially, Kunaal as Nitin is unforgettable, given his believable struggle with an upset tummy through the roller-coaster ride. Vir as Arup is remarkably subtle, sometimes lost, and marvellously funny. Imran Khan is good, but certainly is overshadowed by his two other friends. The quirky Poorna Jagannathan as Maneka is ‘queerly’ loveable, and it’s hard to forget the scene where she shoos away an elderly couple by pretending to ‘ride’ Imran, when the latter gets a real hard-on! Vijay Raaz as the merciless don is full-on entertainment, and I wondered how he did all that with a straight face. Even Shehnaaz Treasury as Sonia performs.
Ram Sampath’s music is another plus. The disappointing thing is that the coolest track of the year Bhaag DK Bose Bhaag only comes in bits and parts, but somehow lends the film its marathon mood. The end credits roll with the extremely funny I hate you (like I love you) with Aamir Khan dressed in a way to remind you of Shotgun Murugan. I have rarely seen the audience sitting through an end-credit song so patiently and enjoying it too. And please note, the T-shirt Imran Khan wears for the greater part of the movie has ‘Stylish Rajnikanth Sunglasses’ written on it on a tag on the left side of his chest. Well, if that too means something to you!