Packed with rude humor and made with the intention to shock you, Delhi Belly is a filthy comic thriller that works because it’s a smartly paced wild-ride. Mind you, it doesn’t have a madly inventive story. Yet with sharp performances and a tight script by Akshat Verma, it’s 90 minutes well spent.
Most of its action erupts within a derelict apartment shared by three buddies – Tashi, Arup and Nitin – struggling to make the rent. Tashi, played by Imran Khan, is a journalist with a nagging fiancée from hell, Sonia (played by Shenaz Treasurywala). An airhostess, Sonia orders Tashi to drop off a parcel she’s promised to deliver as a favor for a friend. The unsuspecting girl has been used as a courier by a diamond-smuggling ring, and it all starts to go terribly wrong when the package is mistakenly swapped by Arup (played by Vir Das). All hell breaks loose when a stoic gangster, played wonderfully by Vijay Raaz, receives a stool sample instead, belonging to Nitin (played by Kunal Roy Kapur), who has been struck by a horrific case of Delhi belly. Yes, I have to admit it’s disgusting, but it’s also very funny.
Adding to this strange cocktail of characters is Tashi’s free-spirited colleague Menaka, played by Poorna Jagannathan, who unfortunately is still trying to shake off a jealous, boorish ex-husband. Expect screeching car chases, colorful expletives (one of which is even written backwards into a song), a stylishly-shot gunfight in a hotel room, and a generous dose of irony.
Delhi Belly is a solid storytelling; it isn’t complicated, but has enough mild twists to keep you entertained. Director Abhinay Deo does a good job of sinking his teeth into the script, and what helps it along are hilarious performances by Vir Das and Kunal Roy Kapur. Imran Khan, meanwhile, clearly enjoying himself in a part with no star trappings, sportingly allows his co-stars to take the lion’s share of jokes here.
Despite its title, this film is no ode to Delhi – it’s a madcap caper that frankly could have been set in any city. Yet it’s Ram Sampath’s music for Delhi Belly that plays almost another character in the movie, right from the lazy Saigal-style opening credits, to the jazzy pop of the closing credits comical-spoof featuring Aamir Khan. My favourite, in fact, is an outrageous number, choreographed by Farah Khan, where Arup has his disco revenge on his girlfriend for jilting him.
Uninhibited and naughty, Delhi Belly is an enjoyable comedy that has enough frenzied moments to keep you in your seats. I’m going with three-and-a-half out of five for director Abhinay Deo’s Delhi Belly. A good laugh is guaranteed.