Delhi Belly was the movie last weekend - Abhinay Deo’s directorial debut. It’s a fun, racy, cheeky script, with a very young urban India today feel. Tashi, Arup and Nitin (Imran Khan, Vir Das and Kunaal Roy Kapur) are roomies (and what a room.. messy and unclean in the way only bachelor rooms can be) leading single lives in the big city. Tashi is a reporter, soon to be married to Sonia (Shenaz Treasurywala); Arup is a cartoonist in an ad agency (presume he is an art director with ambitions of becoming a cartoonist, since there are no cartoonists in ad agencies and everyone in an ad agency really wants to be doing something else) who hates his boss and whose girlfriend dumps him; Nitin is Tashi’s journalist photographer who takes on photography assignments on the side, to make a little extra money, and who while eating roadside food, triggers a severe case of delhi belly and thus the title of the film.
The plot is a caper that Sonia unwittingly sparks off by agreeing to carry a packet from a relative stranger on one of her flights (she is an airhostess). What follows is a hilarious roundabout with the 3 roomies being chased across the city by deadly gangsters and the boyfriend of Menaka, Tashi’s journalist colleague. It is a screwball comedy with Guy Richie-type elements that in turn are hilarious and suspenseful.
The language is mostly English, the way we speak it, with a lot of Hindi words and slang – and thus not endearing itself to a lot of the moral brigade. There is toilet humour as well, but in the context of the genre, it does not grate.
The actors are first rate. Menaka (Poorna Jagannathan) is fresh and sexy but unusual in the Hindi film variety, and it is difficult to see her going beyond anything niche. Imran has long been a personal favourite and he does not disappoint. Vir Das and Kunaal Roy Kapur are perfect in their roles. The music too has a novelty value that is refreshing. All in all, Delhi Belly is the most exciting Hindi film I have seen in a long while.
I cannot say quite the same about Zindagi Mile Na Dobaara, the one I saw next. The premise is interesting and puts it in the generation-defining mould of Dil Chaahta Hai and Rock On. But the movie does not really live up to the premise. It’s the actors. They cannot hold a candle to the easy camaraderie we saw in Amir, Saif and Akhsay. And of course, the sponsorship of Spain tourism means we see a lot more of Spain than the characters themselves.
Here again, it’s 3 boys, men actually, in this case – Kabir, Imran and Arjun (Abhay Deol, Farhan Akhtar and Hrithik Roshan). Kabir is to be married to Natasha (Kalki) and before he does, the three friends take off on a road trip in Spain. It’s Hangover-like, with a lot more philosophical questions and a whole load of upper middle-class angst thrown in, and of course, is not half as much fun.
Each has their own demons to fight and conquer – Kabir and his decision to marry a girl he is not completely sure of, Arjun and his obsessiveness about making money and Imran and his discovery of his natural father. It is a trip that gives them the opportunity to do this and while it all looks good on paper, there is a falseness to the whole journey that ensures the film does not touch you the way a DCH did. Or even actually a Rock On.
It is of course beautifully shot. Hrithik is hot in the way only he and his bare chested body can be. Katrina is pretty and does the bindaas babe routine decently well. And Farhan has his moments. But it’s a hollow shell of a movie and leaves one wishing for a better, less stilted script. And better music (not a patch on DCH or Rock On).