Film Review: ‘Delhi Belly’


Seeking its spirit from Guy Ritchie’s cult classic “Lock Stock” and “Two Smoking Barrels” (1998), “Delhi Belly” polishes the crime-comedy genre by a few notches despite its unrefined ambience.
Three friends who share a dingy Delhi room land into trouble when a parcel of smuggled diamonds is erroneously exchanged with a stool sample. Tashi (Imran Khan), who is newly-engaged to Sonia (Shenaz Treasuryvala), rams in his car, the first gift from the in-laws, after getting into a brawl for another girl Meneka (Poorna Jagannathan).
Arup (Vir Das) has just been ditched by his girlfriend for an NRI. The fatso foodie Nitin (Kunal Roy Kapoor) who is on a perpetual pooping exercise is the one responsible for all the hoopla that follows when an underworld don (Vijay Raaz) is behind the trio for his diamonds.
While the multiple monetary rotations in “Lock Stock” have been intricate, “Delhi Belly” doesn’t complicate the tradeoffs to that extent, yet doesn’t dilute on the essence of the original. “Delhi Belly” has a soul of its own with its unique characters and side-characters and imaginative situations.
Writer Akshat Varma gets the grammar of the genre correct, evoking humour out of the most unusual situations – be it grim, gross or serious, making way for a perfect dark comedy. The language used blends with the setting and the dialogues range from the hilarious to laugh-out-loud moments. The humour is absolutely situational and, though there is a lot of mayhem, there is no space for slapstick.
Director Abhinay Deo is in as much sync with the script, never making you lose the narrative for a moment. The pacing is quick, the milieu is authentic, the dialect is unadulterated and the characters real. The track between Tashi and Meneka is never treated as a romance track per se. Yet when they indulge in a spontaneous smooch in the pre-climax, their chemistry doesn’t seem abrupt. The final shootout in stylized slow motion shots works as a tribute to Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs”. Be it the burka-clad diamond tradeoff in a jewelry shop or a ceiling-collapsing sequence which literally brings the house down, almost every scene results into hilarity.
The art direction is apt, the cinematography is perfect and the editing is crisp. All the song videos are creatively conceptualized and choreographed, of which Vir Das’ ‘Jaa Chudail’ and Aamir Khan’s ‘I Hate You’ are pertinently placed in the film. Ram Sampat’s musical score is exciting and innovative and you don’t mind the fact that most songs play in the background, never interrupting the flow of the film.
Kunal Roy Kapoor gets the best scenes and best lines in the film and stands out for his perfect comic timing, amusing expressions and wacky characterization. Vir Das is as much impeccable in his comic timing and induces mirth for the helpless situations he lands himself into.
Imran Khan is perfect in his part and never overshadows the other two male leads at any point. Poorna Jagannathan is confident, has immense screen presence and raw sex appeal. Vijay Raaz is in solid form after a hiatus and makes you laugh with his pokerfaced expressions. One of the most original and entertaining comedies to have come out of Bollywood in recent times, “Delhi Belly” is hilarious in ‘capital’ letters.