Saturday, July 2, 2011


Release date:
July 1, 2011
Abhinay Deo
Imran Khan, Kunaal Roy Kapur, Vir Das, Poorna Jagannathan, Vijay Raaz, Shenaz Treasury

There’s nothing particularly more “ashleel” about this film’s “bhaasha” than other Bollywood offerings we’ve seen before – methinks that phrase has been used as a publicity hook by the film makers. I mean, yes Delhi Belly does give us a close-up of human shit (no no, I don’t mean that figuratively, I mean literally a pile of human faeces belonging to a man suffering from diarrhoea). And yes, the characters do use foul language without inhibitions, but I can assure you that my limited vocabulary of English and Hindi abuses has not been dramatically enhanced by watching this film: I don’t recall hearing swear words in Delhi Belly that we hadn’t already heard in Shor In The City, Bhindi Baazaar Inc, Shaitan or Yeh Saali Zindagi released earlier this year.

Ah well, perhaps I don’t understand film marketing techniques as much as I think I do. And none of this should take away from the fact that Delhi Belly is an enjoyable, unconventional Bollywood film! For starters, it’s not in Hindi.* The language is primarily English with a smattering of Hindi, and flows smoothly, sounding just the way you can expect the various characters to sound if you bump into them in Delhi. So the first round of applause should go to the dialogue writing. The story revolves around three friends Tashi, Arup and Nitin, the sight of whose filthy flat could make you puke. Tashi is a journalist who is marrying his girlfriend under family pressure. Nitin is his photographer colleague with lax morals and worse eating habits. And Arup is a frustrated cartoonist in an ad agency whose girlfriend has just unceremoniously dumped him. Their lives go into a karma-spurred spiral when a pouch of diamonds enters the picture and gets mixed up with a stool sample.

The mix-up that leads to everything else is a trifle too convenient to be credible, but that doesn’t alter the fact that Delhi Belly is unrelentingly amusing and telling at the same time. In fact, the film is so well done that it’s hard to believe it’s been made by the same director behind that Abhishek Bachchan-starrer Game. Must say Aamir Khan as a producer seems to have a good influence on the directors he signs up.

The film’s title of course is a reference to a term used to describe what could happen to your stomach if you are not careful about your eating habits in the nation’s capital – both literally because of Nitin’s stomach upset that lasts throughout the film and figuratively because of the dirt the story digs up. Now a round of applause please for the film’s casting director who has handpicked each actor with affection and attention, giving us a cast that fits their parts to a T, a U and a V. Imran Khan as Tashi has been more effectively used here than in any of his films since Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na. Here’s an actor with a likeable screen presence but a so-far limited range who clearly benefits greatly from associating with a good director. Khan needs to work on his Hindi diction for other roles, but as the primarily English-speaking Tashi in Delhi Belly he is just fine. Kunaal Roy Kapur (Nitin) is a natural. And Vir Das is so inherently funny, that I don’t feel like analysing his acting skills: he just made me smile … a lot.

But the stand-out performances in Delhi Belly come from a newcomer and a veteran. Poorna Jagannathan who plays Tashi’s colleague has a casual ease before the camera that matches her casual, un-self-conscious sex appeal. And Vijay Raaz as a gangster is so damn good that I hope he’s on every Best Supporting Actor nominations list when the awards ceremonies come around by end-2011.

Delhi Belly is as much a celebration of basic human goodness as it is an essay on how “shit happens” unexpectedly for no fault of ours. If you withdraw a blackmail threat because your intended victim turns out to be a nice guy, you couldn’t be all-bad, right? The USPs of the film are its wry sense of humour and refusal to mince words while saying what it has to say. On the downside, there is a certain repetitiveness that bothered me when it seemed like the director had discovered a device he found edgy and wanted to make sure we noticed it. In the opening scene, Arup and Nitin are in bed – separate beds – in their flat, heads enveloped in sheets, and the camera gives us a shot of Nitin’s (I think) butt crack. But just in case we didn’t spot it the first time, it’s shown to us again, and then again! Okay, I got it, you’re cool enough to show an Indian audience a man’s half-exposed bum! Now move on, please! Likewise, it was entertaining to see Nitin seated on a commode the first time, and perhaps even a second, because we’re not used to seeing such things in Hindi films – but then Tashi’s girlfriend is also shot on a pot, then Nitin is back in the loo, then his stomach gurgles, then he’s back on the toilet seat, then his belly grumbles again, then … and then it just felt childish.

The closing song-and-dance featuring Aamir also felt like an unnecessary and irrelevant add-on. Was he not confident enough of this film that he felt the need to make it more saleable with an item number? Oh no! Et tu Aamir?! Instead, I wish I wish that Ram Sampath’s delightfully raucous DK Bose song had been better used.

Koi nahi, as Delhi-ites would say. Never mind, because in the ultimate analysis, Delhi Belly is frank, funny, in-your-face, unapologetic and unafraid. I had such a good time watching it. My pick of the film’s hilarious moments involves Kathak, a ceiling fan and a very poorly constructed building. Now tell me, what’s yours?

Rating (out of five): ***1/2

CBFC Rating:                       A without cuts (yes, would you believe it?!)
Running time:                       96 Minutes
Language: *                          English with a few Hindi dialogues (the producers have also released a Hindi version of the film)



  1. Anna I totally rely on your reviews before watching any of the latest releases, as I have similar tastes. Gonna watch it for your sake. Shall comment after seeing it.

  2. Anna's 3.5 star rated film screening in my city and how could I concentrate on my work and sleep tight?? so went to see Delhi Belly yesterday. First of all I must say the movie succeeds in entertaining the viewers. A laugh riot which keeps me engaged till the end. All the lead characters did their roles with utmost perfection. As you said, Imran found to be more comfortable with his English diction and it reflected in his character. But in my view, it is Kunaal and Vir who stealed the show by their natural acting skills. Kathak, ceiling fan, poorly constructed building, burqa clad Arup drinking water, trying to hide the tv screen from the police officer.... were all hilarious moments in the film. I completely agree with all your views mentioned above.
    Coming back to your review, it is said that dialpgue writing should be applauded. how?? The word starting F.. has been used in numerous occasions which seems to be annoying towards the latter half. We have an exciting plot, pacy screenplay nourished with fun-filled maments; then what is the need for frequently delivering the abusive word in between??? Secondly it is written that you didn't hear swear words, thanks to your limited vocabulary!!! Recall Arup dreaming about bursting at his girl friends wedding party?? If what I heard is correct, it is the most bitter dialogue I had ever listened from an Indian film!! It is good that the first dialogue was spelled quickly that most of the audience couldn't catch up the meaning. Aamir khan production & Imraan Khan as hero....we can't stop kids from watching it by simply giving an adult certificate. So there are chances where few scenes and dialogues might adversely affect the minds of younger generation. If Delhi Belly turns out to be a trendsetter, we may witness similar genre movies in future with the flavors of Hollywood adult comedies. The question is whether it will be good for Indian cinema???? well.... I don't know!!!


  3. Hello Dyne,

    Thank you for your detailed analysis of Delhi Belly and my review. I must, however, clarify that you have misunderstood the first paragraph of my review. I didn't say that I did not "hear" swear words in this film. I said I did not think there were more swear words in this film than in the other Hindi films I've listed.

    About your discomfort with the use of the F-word in Delhi Belly: if we pretend that people don't use the word, will that change the reality? The "need for frequently delivering the abusive word in between" (as you put it) is because that is how these particular characters speak. At no point does the film suggest that the rest of us should speak that way.

    And if children watch this film although it has been awarded an A certificate, then you should hold parents accountable for not checking the rating before taking their kids for it; you could hold the film Censorship system accountable for being harsh while rating films yet not bothering to monitor theatre admissions. How can you blame the film?

    By the way, I'm glad you enjoyed the film despite your concerns.

    Regards, Anna

  4. Totally agree with this review Anna, though you are a trifle more generous than I would be! I thought some of the expletives and sexual/ adult content was overdone and put in there simply for shock value, it was not strictly relevant to the movie at all!! Also, this could have been set in Mumbai or any other city ... did not seem to be a Delhi film particularly (agree with your view on the play on Delhi Belly). However, this doesnt take away from the fact it is a fun film and very enjoyable ... the kathak/ celing fan/ burka moments were all hilarious as was Bhag Bhag DK Bose! I'd rate it 3 stars maybe ...


  5. Seems like a promising movie from your review, but the makers of the movie need to know that I haven't been able to get myself to go watch it yet because of the gross scene showing human excrement. I saw a scene like that in a Hollywood movie and I walked out within seconds of seeing that scene. I wonder how many others are like me. To emphasize my point, I saw ZNMD for the second time yesterday even though Delhi Belly is still playing in the same theater and I haven't even watched it once. I might get it on DVD if I don't forget about the movie, but not looking forward to that either. All because of one (or more?) gross scene(s).