05 July, 2011

Delhi Belly : A New Cinematic Lingo ?

There are quirks that people have while watching films in cinema halls. The most common one is to carry tub loads of popcorn and cold drinks to partake inside. I have two. Eating A-1 samosa’s from Gurukripa ( In most cinema halls in Bombay, they are standard fare ) as soon as the movie starts. By nibbling on their crisp jackets, eating each one slowly from the outside all the way in, no sooner the lights go dark is one. The second quirk is to skim read the censorship certificate of every film completely. In my early days of this quirk, the attention would be focused on the number of reels. I would feel puffed up with the power of this knowledge that I alone in the entire dark theatre really knew how long this film is. Today have graduated from those simplistic timess to reading all the data on it. It should therefore not be surprising that such weird behaviour often begets a remark…he is certainly certifiable. Anyways…There was something different about the one flashing here for the film “Delhi Belly”. It was not the “A” rating, nor the 10 odd reels which declared that the film is short enough not to require an interval, but in the language of the film certified here; English & Partially Hindi. Wow…had I read that correct? I looked again..yes it said the same thing. My interest was tickled.

From the manner in which the camera pans the first frame straight into a pig sty like accommodation, we step into the world of the three pigs that live there. They are so ordinary that in their ordinariness lies their appeal. They squeal at each other and loll about in their muck with such gay abandon that one can’t but hold back giggles at this. The first little pig Tashi ( Imran Khan ) is a reporter, The second little pig Arup( Vir Das ) is an ad agency designer and the third pig with a huge pork belly, Nitin ( Kunal Roy Kapur ) is a photographer. This sty is owned by a landlord who has his own parallel track beefing up the storyline. The ensemble cast has two cute looking sow’s Sonia & Menaka ( Shehnaaz Treasurywala is the rich girlfriend of Tashi & Poorna Jagannathan plays the free spirited distraction respectively) . The two are by no means here as pure eye candy,they are the spice and the catalysts for this insane plot, propelling it further and faster in furious circles. The most notable addition to this ensemble cast of characters is the snake Somayajulu ( Vijay Raaz absolutely brilliant ) and his fellow sidekicks played by a competent foursome. There is also a saucy parakeet ( Anusha Dandekar) in a special role and a Bear in white trousers that dances like Mithun Chakraborty displaying its hairy chest in an item number ( Aamir Khan) that round up nearly all the central animals of this animal farm.

Is this a movie review of Delhi Belly? Well not exactly, it’s too late in the day to write a review.But what the heck...its late so what...Ok its a personal take ( review in brackets ) of this absolutely delightful film.

The plot is simple. A bunch of diamonds to be couriered to Vijay Raaz get mixed up with a stool sample (Shit Happens…the tagline of the movie …) and this exchange gets routed through all the characters detailed above in the farm. Their unpredictable reactions to each predictable turn taken by the plot bring in an element of fun and this is what keeps us hooked.

The movie is mad and totally funny primarily because it does not at all attempt to be so. The winner here is the cutting edge camera that captures both the grittiness of the environs, may it be the long antlered roach on a pizza slice or a flashily bizarre disco number, completely making us co-conspirators in the plot. Closely following is the brilliant screenplay, the language of which is actually the language of everyday usage. This is my lingo. What charmed me also was one amazing dream sequence of the jilted Arup. We have watched dream sequences in cinema right from the big dream merchants who made big films that we have been raised upon. Raj Kapoor had long winding staircases leading up to clouds or balconies on which the hero and the heroine would sing their song whether they were happy or sad, The Mukherjee brothers, Shakti Samanta and a host of others had them running around trees or sliding down the slopes of the Kashmir Valley. Yash Chopra had Switzerland and his yellow tulips after he graduated from the mustard fields of the Punjab. These sequences have never felt real to me because when I am angry, happy or sad I don’t dream of singing or crying amongst the tulips…Ja Chudail is that iconic number of pure funky retribution and “yes, this is the stuff that make my dreams when I am pissed off.  I do dream this way"

The Music by Ram Sampath is sterling. The lyrics of Amitabh Bhattacharya, Munna Dhiman, Ram Sampath, Akshat Verma who is also the scriptwriter and Chetan Shashital are so fresh that the music album is sure to achieve cult status along with the movie. In Abhinay Deo's direction one can instantly notice that the captain of the ship is having fun directing this madcap venture. The fun element translates from his mike into the skin of the characters who are having a blast by themselves. The beauty of the performances is that no one is a comic. Each one is playing a part of the character. There is no hero though the three are central to the plot. It is in the situational turn that the humour bubbles out and comes at you in waves…one after the other. The performance to note is of Vijay Raaz playing a gangster with such a fine precision that is pure Tarantino in its manically sane delivery. His edge is in the eye and the tone of his voice, they convey all. It’s a masterful performance. The other standout character performance is that of the girl Menaka played by Poorna Jagannathan. There is a gypsy like free spirited adventure that she brings to the part. She is comfortable in her own skin & in this comfort she projects a sensuality that packs quite a wallop. This is a girl to watch out for ahead.

There are frames that reminded me of scenes from movies that I liked, these were not lifted mind you but seemed familiar just the same. The first shot took me to Sai Paranjpes Chashme Buddoor where 3 young men while away time in a room smoking one cigarette butt and this is passed around. Here there is indolence and laziness passed around on display. Tarantino's influence also seems strong in the scene of the shootout in the hotel room bullets flying everywhere. Vishal Bharadwaj had done it earlier in Kaminney during the climax, Deo does it here. 

Apart from the title " Delhi Belly " nothing in the script or screenplay remotely even alludes to Delhi. The lingo is pure Bombay and its is reflected in the choice of swear words and the accents of their delivery. Which brings us to the point where this soliloquy started...Language. This language is a new morality by itself and if Indian cinema is losing its prudishness it is a sign of a maturing audience preference.  

The much talked about “bad” language for which the producers applied for the “A” certification right at the beginning makes one wonder whether this was a strategic play. If it was then it has succeeded because the film apparently has sailed through without a single cut. This has maintained the flow and pace of the plot. If by this one infers that  the censors are maturing too ( should this be a reality for all and not just Aamir Khan ) then it sure is a welcome sign for all film makers and cinema as a whole.

Swear words in any language have a flow and grammar all of their own. Here one goes beyond the literal meaning of the word. The grammar of the swear word lies in its phonetics; in its intonations. The same word can become a hiss of anger, a mortifying insult  or even a fond term of endearment. Try it. It has a liberating power whether one does it in Hindi,  English or English + Partially Hindi J


Soul Images said...

Hahahah..... I am completely in agreement with you about the grammar of the swear words.... There are some that are pure exclamation marks. Nothing to do with the meaning. Heck, I don't even know the meaning completely, but it does convey a whole set of emotions ranging from surprise to incredulity to anger to threat to love! Just that one word but with a different intonation. The best part is that I have never had to tell the other person what or how I am feeling... that one word does the job!

Superb as usual.... your take on the film, I mean!

I am beginning to look forward to an era when the scripts and the directors will be the true heroes of the film!

Kau Kau goes the Crow said...

The script as a central driver in a film is more and more evident these days which is a superb sign.

Look at Dhobhi Ghaat, Shor in the City, Shaitaan, Band Bajaa Baraat despite teh YRF tag, and now Delhi Belly and these are the works which are exciting to watch in tune with the sensibilities and if marketed properly would also achieve commercial success...which is the golden mean objective

SA said...

Saw Delhi Belly at home and still enjoyed it... but honestly the filth of the bachelor pad, the inappropriate use of the orange juice, I found that ... well in my face. I like the movie... found it as realistic as it could get... karan johar has got me used to different kinds of sets and language and i wasnt expecting a crash course in swear language.. this was different ... very engaging... was glued to my seat..

Kau Kau goes the Crow said...

Yup Shazia that's a bit over the top ...the filth bit...and the orange juice ...well now that am off it because of this movie...

Makes one wonder whether it was the smooth filtered variety or the natural juice with the grains and the pips...then it could have been uncomfortable even to the user ;-)

SA said...

ewwww dont care about the kind of juice it was... :)

Kau Kau goes the Crow said...