Thursday, July 21, 2011

Review: Delhi Belly

The time of the formula masala movies in Bollywood is over! No more 'boy meets girl, they fall in love, shit happens, they separate, but love heals all but not before 15 songs, 10 fights, 6 arguments, 3 rapes, 2 accidents, 1 prayer and oh yes! 20 more songs'. The time of the new hero has come in Bollywood. He aint no rippling muscle hunk or the chocolate boy next door or some producer's son who cant act for nuts. This new hero of Bollywood, ladies and gentlemen, is 'novelty'. Every new kid on the block is getting fresh concepts, quirky ideas, bold subjects, which stand out and yell, 'I am different and I dont care if you dont like it!'. Ishqia, LSD, TZP, Kaminey, Udaan, Tere Bin Laden and now you can add Delli Belly to the list.

The inspiration for the movie comes from the 'British Gansta Flick' types, which rewrote a whole new genre of slick storytelling. Quintein Tarentino ushered in the revolution by making 'Pulp Fiction' which mesmerized, bewildered and captivated audiences around the world. And then Guy Ritchie made 'Lock, Stock and two Smoking Barrels' which set a benchmark for the genre. A set of simpletons usually get entangled in a web of gun totting gangsters, stolen diamonds, car chases and fist fights. The co-incidences are unbelievably crazy, which make the movie that much more funny and edgy. Delhi Belly works exactly on this premise.

Three friends, struggling to make a mark in life, share an appalling flat in some bylane of Delhi. Tashi (Imran Khan) is an aspiring journalist engaged to the bade-ghar-ki-beti Sonia (Shenaz Treasurywala). Arup (Vir Das with weird hair-do) is a talent cartoonist, stuck with an idiot boss and dumped by his girlfriend for an NRI groom from Canneda! The real funny part of the tripod is Nitin (Kunal Roy Kapoor),
the fat, gluttony, greedy photographer colleague of Tashi. He eats trash off the streets, to suffer from a bad of bout of diohhrea a.k.a Delhi Belly. Its metaphorical of all the shenanigans that happen in the underbelly of a large metropolis like Dilli!

An underworld gang use the air hostess route to smuggle diamonds into the country. All hell breaks loose when a delivery of smuggled diamonds gets exchanged with the stool sample of Nitin. From here on the movie is a like roller coaster ride, taking a twist every other second and changing course faster than party hopping politicians. Into this melee, is thrown an ex-wife obsessed businessman, a whore loving house owner, a Khatak dance master and his protégés, an office babe who has the hots for Tashi. Every character is unique and fits into the story effortlessly.

The strength of the movie lies in the situational humor: dark or otherwise which keeps coming at you relentlessly. It’s more than a welcome change for the Indian audience burdened with the multi-star, brainless, so called ‘laugh riots’. They story in itself, is not very complicated, but it’s told with a style and pace that keeps you at the edge of your seats asking for more. Kudos to the director, Abhinav Deo for pulling off a tough genre to make. The cinematography is slick with amazing angles, be it the old pizza rotting under the sofa, the blood dripping over the dead gangster’s forehead. The final shoot out scene is shot in slow-mo, a tribute to the climax in Reservoir Dogs, similar to the one in Vishal Bharadwaj’s Kaminey.

What really sets the movie apart is the music. There are no song and dance sequences which the lead actors break into without any rhyme or reason. There are only background scores which beautifully complement the situation: Sweety tera pyaar, Bhaag DK Bose. You will really enjoy the catchy ‘Ja Chudail’ parody which is beautifully choreographed by Farah Khan. And finally it brings us to the dialogues. The dialogues are smartly written, damn funny and totally street like. A lot has been said and written about the profanity in the movie. Common guys, this is the language of today’s generation, like it or not. If you refuse to grow up to the truth and want to take up cudgels with the morality brigade, its really just your loss. The movie would have worked just as well without the profanity, but it’s a package deal isn’t it!

Imran Khan does a decent job, but can be easily replaced by anyone else. The support cast really do a commendable job. But the two guys who really pack in a fantastic performance are Kunal Roy Kapoor as the fat Nitin and Vijay Raaz as the frustrated underworld don. The movie as such could have been set in any other city, but today’s movie makers have developed a strange new obsession with the capital.

Delhi Belly is funny, entertaining and above all, original. Go catch it, before Aamir’s sequel ‘Disco Fighter’ hits the screens.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Driving for dummies

I have been in Mumbai for five years now. Have been driving for three. I have driven and ridden - in the scorching Mumbai summer, in the unforgiving torrential rains, along the potholed highways, over the innumerable flyovers, waited countless minutes at the irritating signals, dodged insouciant jaywalkers, BEST buses, greedy maamas, check nakas and the whole jazz. I can say, with some amount of experience, I have become what you may call, 'Mumbai's short fused, foul mouthed, impatient' driver next door. And when one has nothing to do while siting in the car and waiting for timeless moments to pass, one cant help but observe the world around. So, this blog is about all the specimens on Mumbai roads, that you will be delighted to ..err.. bump into.

Specimen 1: The Dogs in the window
You have seen those pet dogs traveling in the back seats of cars, with their tongues hanging out? Well, they have competition and they are called taxi drivers! Head thrust out of the window, right arm dangling from door like a hose, a red piece of wet cloth hanging out to dry, they are the undisputed kings of the road. They cut lanes like a frog jumping on hearing gushing water, give a generous blast of honking if you dare stray in their path and never short of kind words to share, in case you tell them to watch where they drive. Bombay might become Mumbai, Victoria Terminus may become Shivaji Terminus, but the Black and Yellow taxi drivers are destined to be on the roads of Mumbai for ever.

Specimen 2: The Real Estate Agents
What is the most expensive thing one can buy in this city? Real Estate of course! There is no free land here. And that's why these set of guys fight for every inch on the road, like their lives depended on it. Even in bumper to bumper traffic, if they spot a piece of open road, not occupied, they gun for it with every last bhp their engines can cough up. Even in situations where others have a clear road, if they are just let through, our land grabbers just wont let it. They will fight for that last inch and claim it.

Specimen 3: The guided cannon balls
Have you seen a canon ball fly? They fly straight, they fly fast and they are mostly found on the leftmost lanes of Mumbai's highways! They might have as well bought left hand drive cars and stayed back in the US. They don't bother about anything that may come in their way: potholes, parked vehicles, people waiting at bus stops. They just zoom past at breakneck speed, cause the cannon balls know only one rule 'Left is always right'!

Specimen 4: The Greenpeace Gang
Ever had that meeting where you just couldn't afford to be late, the anniversary dinner you wouldn't dare to miss, the trailers you loved to catch at the start of the movie? Well, they can all wait, cause the carbon saving guys are sauntering ahead of you. Not that they give a damn about the environment, they don't mind replacing petrol with third grade kerosene. Just that they see a small hint of declivity, they switch off the engines and go 'row row row your boat gently down the stream'. You could kill them if you had a gun, but I guess, punching them on the face would be the greener thing to do.

Specimen 5: The Hawa ka Jhonkas
It was the first time that I sat in an auto in Mumbai. Off it went cantering along the bylanes of the largest suburb in the city. It was afternoon and the was not much traffic on the road. As the auto picked speed, I noticed a small kid walking out of the gate and into the road. The vehicle was too close and too fast and neither slowed down. I clasped the railing harder, held my breath and almost closed my eyes. To my utter amazement and relief, the vehicle swerved by half an inch and I swear there was just enough gap in between for wind to pass through. That was the day I learnt, this was just another day in the office in Maximum City. Time is money here, they said and true to the last letter, no on slows down, no one brakes and no one gives the damn way!

Specimen 6: People with Connections
No silly, not the neta types of connections. Its the ringing types. The worst invention of the century if you ask the automobiles about it. Worse than Jack Daniels. And we, being the forever connected generation, cant keep our hands off the mobiles. Even if it means that we have to balance the phone between our cheeks and shoulder while riding the bike, have the traffic pile up behind us while checking Facebook, not knowing that the signal has turned green, check incoming mails and messages on the BlackBerry while clocking 80 on the highway. Dents, bumps and crashes are all pardoned as long as we are on the 'Smart' phones. An Apple a day, might not really keep the doctor away.

Specimen 7: The Diwan-e-aam
The common man, he is there everywhere. Not one or two, a full twenty million plus and growing. And given that 70% of this twenty million people stay in slums and roads, you have them everywhere. They just arent there on the roads! They use it as an extension of their living rooms. They sleep, the run, they eat, they shit, they live on these roads. Which of course, leaves little space for your car or bike, let alone the trucks and buses. And not to forget the million other people looking to go to work, schools, homes. Of course, they have never heard of zebra crossings, sky walks, footpaths or generally about 'look where you are going'. That obviously leaves the motorists as the poor cousins or say second rate citizens, where really they should have been kings.

Specimen 8: Mahanagar
Its just not some place, its not just a city. Its a living, breathing, ever-changing mega flux. You have to adapt to it, adjust your pace, develop a taste. Long roads, ugly flyovers, clogged bridges, beautiful sea faces, serpentine alleys, on going constructions, mid night traffic jams, sun scorched bus stops, rain battered cobble ways, potholed highways, blood stained memories, aged black and yellow cabs, historic landmarks. They are all there. You just have to be a part of it. There are millions out there trying to reach their destinations. If you just pause and observe, you might as well enjoy the journey though this mad place.