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DELHI BELLY: I rate you [like I love you]

© Hindi Cinema Blog

'Delhi Belly' might not be doing the due rounds of Nepali cinemas but it sure has traveled to other exotic destinations! Paris and its quintessential commuting work routine had me a bit dizzy this week until - lo and behold - I discovered a silent film release that would force me to unwind... As I scroll through Internet cinema timings at the local French café I come upon the word "Delhi" on my screen... I wonder if a cinema is scheduling an art-house movie about India but immediately see the word "Belly" on the side. I squint. "Delhi" plus "Belly"?! A suburban cinema in Paris is showing a film I never imagined I could watch on the big screen! Abhinay Deo's 'Delhi Belly' has crashed Paris and has me scrambling to the nearest subway station! Cinema hall, here we come!

As I reach the cinema, nine huge posters announce Hollywood fare and my wallet's target is nowhere to be seen. I stand in queue and ask the cashier for a ticket to watch 'Delhi Belly'. The cashier begs my pardon and for a second I ask myself if I should have pinched myself when I saw the film announced on the Internet. I repeat the name of the film and the cashier looks through the list of films currently showing before actually realizing that a film called 'Delhi Belly' is scheduled. I pay my ticket and hurry to find all seats empty, but thankfully, a few minutes later a small audience starts trickling in. We are a handful of foreigners sitting with a merry group of NRIs, carrying packaged samosas and all. The place suddenly feels like home.

Rewind a couple of years earlier. Of all three films Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao's production house was preparing since 2008, 'Delhi Belly' has been the closest to my heart and the expectation to see it never waned even after a box-office smashing '3 Idiots' or a subtle 'Dhobi Ghat'. I had not seen 'Delhi Belly' but yet knew it would be my favorite film of all three. Now is the chance to see if my expectations were correct.

Sitting in that Paris cinema, the small audience gets the feeling we are members of some exclusive clique. A bunch of connoisseurs ready to savour a treat that is only meant for the duly initiated...

Ah yes. Pearls are served only to the wise and Abhinay Deo's impertinent direction is served by the heaps to us as we discover three bachelor friends who share an old and shabby flat in Delhi. Tashi (Imran Khan), is a journalist addicted to his job and engaged to Sonia (Shenaz Treasury). S#!t starts happening when he involuntarily gets involved with gutsy and free-spirited Meneka (Poorna Jagannathan), who is not afraid to let a guy know when she has set eye on him. Arup (Vir Das) embodies the virtue of patience working in publicity, collecting unsuccessful attempts to watch a disco movie at the cinema, dealing with a recent break up and only screaming things like "go to hell!", "oral pleasure" and "blow job" in his psychedelic dreams. Nitin (Kunaal Roy Kapur) is a photographer who is always on the lookout for better ways to make money, like say... blackmailing? When Nitin's tummy goes for a violent toss, all three friends accidentally get entangled in the business of mafia man Vijay Raaz and his henchmen. How can a bad case of the runs get one into such trouble? Writer Akshat Verma delivers a sturdy and rib-tickling script that explains just that!

Humour here goes from cheeky to racy to dirty and back time and time again. Despite a moment of confusion in the Western audience regarding the "orange juice" humour, the film remained a side-splitting naughty pleasure for all until the very end. And here I would like to say "Thank you AK Productions" for bringing adult urban Indian humour to the fore, not only in India where it will undoubtedly refresh the comedy panorama, but also in lands like France, where most of what is known about India is the usual clichés. This film takes them one by one and hilariously burns them to ashes.

Imran Khan bhaags throughout the film, proving to one and beyond once again that he can rock a screen in spite of sporting a terribly sore black eye, disheveled hair and being covered in layers of dust in his best non-romantic-hero role to date. He leads his pack with zing, while also letting his partners in crime shine in their rollicking and well-carved-out performances too. Plot, characters, and a minblowing soundtrack all snuggly click together despite their full-on wackiness.

As if all this fun was not enough, Anousha Dandekar joins none other than a disco clad producer Aamir Khan in a cameo number dancing his platform shoes off. Press has it that the cameo was recently shot, when Khan decided to take the film's item number into his own hands to pay brilliant tribute to India's disco days. The production house could not have chosen a more suitable item boy for the deal.

Fun doesn't always rhyme with family though, so don't expect to be watching this film with your mom or with your kids. 'Delhi Belly' is a wicked pleasure to be savoured with like-minded friends or by yourself. Just be careful with food and drinks (if you can stomach them while watching). You don't want to spill anything while you are rolling on the floor laughing.

A big thumbs up for the European release of the film. It would have been fantastic to have the film promoted a bit more by Aanna Films but we are not complaining. It is already a miracle to have a first day release of a quality Indian film in France. May word of mouth carry it to the status it genuinely deserves in India and abroad. I know I can seem biased and too fond of work coming out of a production house that had the guts to make a classic like 'Lagaan'. Trust me though, 'Delhi Belly' is a riot regardless of who's name is in it. It is the type of completely cult film that people will be quoting way down the line and will make friends joyfully laugh when it is being remembered in discussions. If you are an adult who doesn't mind raunchy cinema and a dose of potty humour, don't miss 'Delhi Belly'. 'Tis smack hitting GOLD. Disco GOLD. ♫ ...I "rate" you [like i LOVE you]...♫ Shake it babeh, yeah!

Join the Delhi Belly Facebook page
Buy the Delhi Belly soundtrack on Itunes
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If you are lucky to be in Paris, catch the film here until July 12th, 2011

Director: Abhinay Deo
Script: Akshat Verma
Cast: Vir Das, Poorna Jagannathan, Kunaal Roy Kapur, Imran Khan, Vijay Raaz, Shenaz Treasury
Produced by: Aamir Khan, Kiran Rao, Akshat Verma
Music and lyrics: Ram Sampath and Amitabh Bhattacharya

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