Delhi Belly (2011) and 99 (2009): Check the Tide, Bollywood


By now, there’s a lot to be said of the formal feedback that accompanies an Aamir Khan Productions (AKP) release. We’ve gone from a unanimous panning of Lagaan the weekend of its release 10 years ago, to oodles of praise and an almost default opinion of ‘best-in-class cinema’. If you’ve followed this blog, you know I am of the opinion that it’s well-deserved and a product of diligence and conviction on the part of the producer and his crew. What’s defined the brand and made it synonymous with quality has been an unwavering commitment to test the filmic waters, and to try to have fun while at it, or at least convince audiences that they’re having fun while at it.



In light of this background, my one-sentence review of Delhi Belly is this: It’s a well-written, good entertainer that’s marketed right and has its moments, but is not near of the path-breaking kind it is seemingly being hailed to be.

I certainly do not intend to say this as a slight to the film. I do intend it as a slight to those film critics who are either so blinded by group think that they either forget the Hindi films they have seen in the recent past (assuming they’re keeping up better than we are), or must cater to a brand and not a brand’s audience, forgetting that films are to manipulate us, the audience, and not as much to manipulate the ‘independent’ film critic. It’s this conscious effort to stay objective that’s led some to appreciate Aamir Khan’s films over the years. And it’s this very effort that demands we call a smiling banana, a...well...smiling banana. :)

Now, let’s treat Delhi Belly within the scope of a comedy that’s rated R for language. It fits the bill well. Three young, fabulous, and broke professionals -- Imran Khan, Kunaal R. Kapur, and Vir Das -- who are roommates in an apartment building whose collapse is imminent, find their way into a smuggler web (led by Vijay Raaz) because of diamonds they unknowingly serve as couriers for. The film is about their quest to stomach the position they’re in and escape from this web while toying with holding on to their greed.

Along the way are several hurdles, as we would expect, and most of them have a comic ring to them. They’re underplayed and require constrained performances, and the three actors and lead villain (especially) do really well with theirs. Imran Khan’s maturity as an actor is obvious. Good for him! Vir Das might just want to seek Farhan Akhtar as acting coach – he’s a half clone in delivery and posture. Vijay Raaz delivers what might just be one of the more memorable performances by a villain, of late. The ladies, Poorna Jagannathan and Shenaz Treasurywala, fit in well, the former making the most of a more significant role.

The screenplay, cinematography, and art direction work well in concert. Expect nothing less from the brand. The music fits in well. The controversial song (and I’d rather stay away from why it’s controversial) has an extremely catchy tune that is an anthem of sorts among Indian youth by now (for better or for worse). Enjoy. (Rated R for you Hindi/Urdu speakers):




Loved the sound accompanying the opening credit sequence, with a K. L. Saigal remix that is not pathetic. Aamir Khan shows up in an item song (yes, he’s an ‘item boy’ now) which is a tribute to 1980s rock-n-roll Bollywood. Here’s a trailer with the funky Aamir:




Unfortunately, a lot of what's good in Delhi Belly is somewhat offset by the amount of ‘toilet’ humor. If comedy outside the restroom is driven by subtlety, it’s the explicitness of incorporating traveler's diarrhea (yes, condition's called 'Delhi Belly' apparently) into the film that could lead one to believe that class, not what’s crass, is the bigger concern here. If you don’t have an appetite for that kind of humor, stay away. Of course, if you don’t have an appetite for the kind of language that #U*Q$ up the living daylights out of some purists, stay away.

If you’re okay with the aforementioned disclaimers, check this out. It’s different in how it achieves what it achieves, but no matter what is said about it, it’s the familiar elements we appreciate in quality cinema – plot, writing, timing -- that make it what it is, despite how hard it tries to differentiate because of a perceived boldness that’s supposed to spark a new trend in Hindi film of more boldness for the sake of boldness. (Refer to this discussion on what's bold and what's not.)

Check the tide when it comes to the amount of profanity that’s used, Bollywood. This is one trend you’re better off not flowing with, like the water supply in the apartment building whose collapse was imminent.

Shit happens, alright. It's why we need to move beyond (sh)it.


Film Rating: 3.5/5 -- Good, “time-pass” entertainer

Music Rating: 3.5/5
Catchy tunes, great integration, excellent background score

My Classification: R
For language, sex, toilet humor

-----------

99 (2009) is a film I’ve been meaning to recommend for a while. A lot of the good I say about Delhi Belly applies here. While it’s slower than Delhi Belly, it’s as intelligent and engaging (if not more), and per my reaction while watching it, way more hilarious and with better (and more), good performances. It also has a character named D.K., for what it’s worth.

Two friends -- Kunal Khemu and Cyrus Broacha -- run an illegal SIM-card duplicating business. As they're about to get busted, they rob a car, meet with an accident in it, and must reimburse a bookie (Mahesh Manjrekar) for damages. We go from Mumbai to Delhi, from an attempted escape to betting, and trust veterans Boman Irani and Vinod Khanna to steal the show from the other dependable actors through it. Simone Singh and Soha Ali Khan pitch in with good performances. Amit Mistry is the big find here. There are several scenes where he makes an excellent case for his casting in future comedies. Here’s my favorite (rated R for language; no subtitles here):




Several unforced and circumstantial moments of genuine comedy, often products of the kind of sarcasm that works because of its timing, make this entertaining, hilarious, and memorable. It’s also a more encouraging sample from contemporary, stylish Bollywood comedy that works as much for its restrained performances as it does for its writing. It’s as dialogue-driven as any other, with delivery that is, in most cases, just brilliant. Very well done, and a tide we need to see more flow with!

Movie Rating: 4/5 – Excellent!

My Classification: R for language.

40 comments:

Dolce and Namak said...

Nooooo!!! Only 3 paragraphs for 99?? I was so excited about reading your review of it, I love this movie!! Hmpf! >:-(

But thank you for the extended thoughts on DB, I am planning to see it despite being highly allergic to potty humour. It is after all an Imran movie, and your one line about his acting makes me very hopeful. I'll just be well prepared to close my eyes and ignore certain parts... :-/

theBollywoodFan said...

You're welcome, and enjoy Delhi Belly! You might have to close your ears more than your eyes (ref: potty humor), but it's certainly worth checking out if you're an Imran fan. He looks like a kid in some of the promo pics and posters, but there's not a moment in the film when he's out of place or has little sense of belonging. I'll look forward to your review.

It's been a few months since I've seen 99, and there's only so much I remember. But I saw it twice in succession and loved it both times, good sign! The performances are top-notch, aren't they?

Thank you for your visit and comment. Cheers!

TheDailyHoney (via Twitter) said...

Fully agree on the "not near of the path-breaking kind it is seemingly being hailed to be." Amen!

theBollywoodFan said...

Glad I'm not the only one who thinks so! Thanks for reading. :)

mynameissuzy (via Twitter) said...

Will read review later, b4 that I'll say:entertaining, but trying too hard with vulgar/sexy angle be "independent" but 7/10. Still good.

theBollywoodFan said...

I'll look forward to discussing after you've read the review. We do agree, Suzy ji.

Arun Kumar (via Twitter) said...

I want to watch this movie 99! Thanks for letting me know about this flick. :) Hope the DVD is available :P

theBollywoodFan said...

Sure, Arun. Thanks for reading. 99 the film has been out for a while, you should be able to find it at any decent Bollywood store. Enjoy!

bollywoodfoodclub said...

Adab!
Great review here, Nawab!
My favorite of all in the film was Vijay Raaz’s goonda, which makes me concerned about my own psychological state. ;) All the smugglers were fantastic. It reminded me of the group I’d seen in Anurag Kashyap’s “That Girl in Yellow Boots,” in fact I thought the film was reminded me of Kashyap’s Dev.D and TGIYB in its use of music and showing the gritty side of urban life. I suppose it’s all part of the Mumbai/Bombay image of the city in Hindi Cinema. I did love looking at the city and thought visually it was a really fun film to watch. I understand the food poisoning storyline needed to be there for the plot, but I could have done without the level vulgarity, which also goes for the unnecessary sex scenes, which I saw as there to prove the “parallelness” of the project, as if to show how crass they could be to set themselves apart from traditional formulaic Bollywood films, but I’m not the demographic they’re after in the first place. I’m sure to young Indian hipsters these things may sell. I went with Jill of http://tollywoodismybollywood.blogspot.com/ and she pointed out that the Sonia running into the wall scene was lifted from the film Fargo, which I’d forgotten about. As far as the music, it seemed to fit, and for the non Hindi speakers like me, I was able to understand the controversy about the song in question via bollymeaning’s post here: http://www.bollymeaning.com/2011/05/dk-bose-meaning.html
So once again, seems like somewhere people are trying to us shock to set the film apart, which is a cheap trick, na? All that being said the movie was about a 7 out of 10 on my personal rating scale worth a watch for sure knowing that the “bathroom” humor (my mom always said “bathroom humor” vs. “toilet humor” ) appears a lot. You said it all here: “but no matter what is said about it, it’s the familiar elements we appreciate in quality cinema – plot, writing, timing -- that make it what it is, despite how hard it tries to differentiate because of a perceived boldness that’s supposed to spark a new trend in Hindi film of more boldness for the sake of boldness.”
All the best!
Sita-ji

p.s. my 7/10 rounds down to your 3.5/5, but I like the wiggle room that the 10 point scale allows me, but we had same same rating only!

p.p.s. I’ll see 99 now, I love Kunal Khemu!

Pitu said...

Hmm. I am definitely going to stay away from Delhi Belly. Pity, as I did have somewhat high hopes. But toilet humor is one thing I simply refuse to tolerate. Gandagi hi dekhni/sunni hai to theater kyon jayein, sulabh shauchalay hai na? Gross! Nice review, though :D

theBollywoodFan said...

Adab Sita-ji, and thank you for your comment! I'd agree that Vijay Raaz is the best actor in the film anyway, and he, more than anyone, was responsible for the funniest moments.

It's interesting you mention Kashyap. There's this other Abhay Deol movie, 'Ek Chaalis Ki Last Local' (2007), which I was also reminded of while watching Delhi Belly, in addition to Dev.D. Precisely the point about the film not being as path-breaking even with profanity and sex.

I'd think the 18-35 male demographic would be the primary target anyway, and yes, for better or for worse, these things do sell to most of us. While the marketing was spot on, the bit I was slightly disappointed with was that they were portraying it to be 'cool' and representative of the 21st century, and I'd fiercely disagree on both counts.

Okay, so you get the meaning of the song. Yes, the shock value isn't a highlight, is it? I could understand if others used certain tricks, Aamir Khan Productions doesn't need them to stay relevant. In fact, it's a big repuation risk as they have admitted on more than one occasion. Delhi Belly was planned around 2007/8-ish, when AKP was still young in number of films released. Three to four years and some excellent films (like Peepli Live and Dhobi Ghat) later, it almost feels like this is what it is, for the sake of being so and for being different, and that's the concern. Glad you agree on what makes it work.

I think your mom's right about 'bathroom humor' versus 'toilet humor'. For some reason, in India, as in England, the word 'toilet' is considered a lot less crude than it is in the U.S. -- I like restroom and lavatory instead, too. :) Gosh, see what Delhi Belly has us talking about? :D (I sure hope there isn't more that's lifted from elsewhere, that'd suck.)

We do agree on grading the film, that's cool, na?!

As always, thank you for your comment. Will look to your take of Big B's new film. Not sure you read his latest blog post, but why he feels the need to belittle an Imran Khan movie and then claim he is modest, is beyond me.

theBollywoodFan said...

Pitu! Ya, since that kind of humor isn't your thing, just stay away. I wouldn't say it was entirely unfunny, but still just a bit much. I know they'd warned of the language primarily, but this someone like me finds way more disgusting than profanity and sex.

I guess mention of sulabh shauchalaya isn't entirely displaced here, the building these people were in needed some serious sanitation upgrades. At least these guys in the film had some control over where they were... (sigh)

Thanks for your visit and comment! Have you seen '99' yet?

theBollywoodFan said...

All: Here's a review of Delhi Belly by blogger The Mighty Mango of 3 Bollywood Queens:

http://3bollywoodqueens.blogspot.com/2011/07/imran-khan-week-delhi-belly-2011.html


In addition, here's a piece on the London Indian Film Festival premiere of Delhi Belly:

http://bollyspice.com/24048/special-report-liff-premiere-of-delhi-belly

An excerpt:

Directed by Abhinay Deo, who was present to answer the audience’s question on premiere night, Delhi Belly promised to be the first of its kind. It was a first in terms of tackling the more taboo subjects that Indian cinema is better known to brush under the carpet. "


*This* is what I don't get. Which Bollywood or which version of Indian cinema have they been referring to? It seems it's been easy for them to claim something, not have it be fact-checked, demand recognition without verification of the claims, and get the recognition unanimously. Amazing. Group think alright.

Anonymous said...

The reason why it works is it is quite clear how much fun they were having making it. About the Bose song, when I first heard the song my reaction was what a wonderful cheeky funny way to insert the gali in the song, which also fits so nicely with the plot. Whenever someone was in trouble we would say bhag sale bose *#&* and laugh our ass off. Its such a wonderful way to project an emotion and camaraderie in few words. And it works each time for us guys. We laugh when someone says dirty words. We are simple like that.

Pitu said...

No, haven't seen 99 yet but hope to :D Have a happy 4th!

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Anonymous: We'll have to agree to disagree with what a "wonderful way to project emotion and friendship" is. :)

Having said that, the bigger deal to me wasn't the use of expletives (hey, I'm somewhat of a fan of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, so I do find some of the use funny and am not easily offended by its comic use), it was the bathroom humor.

When I was in college in the early to mid 2000s, I heard this once: "Friends are like butt cheeks. Shit may come between them, but they always stick together."

Some found that very hilarious. I still think it's disgusting! :D I guess therein lies the big difference between who will enjoy or not enjoy that crass nature of the dialogue in Delhi Belly.

Not saying that's always a bad thing, there is room for "Raunchy Bollywood" I guess. But I certainly don't believe in what critics are calling a benchmark for how youth-oriented films should be made. This to me is anything but.

Unless we want our youth to end down in the drain.

theBollywoodFan said...

Happy 4th to you to Pitu! Enjoy 99!

bollywooddeewana said...

Lovely write up on delhi Belly and why would you rather not discuss the Dk bose song, I still can't understand what the fuss is about, care to explain?

theBollywoodFan said...

Thank you Bollywood Deewana. Yes, you're headed on the right track with that, it could mean more, I guess.

I think the fuss is more about the use of the term and how unapologetic the use has been in the mainstream media, since the song was released. In the west, you don't expect to hear sheer raunch when you turn on prime time TV, or when you walk into a (normal) music store, or when you sit in a taxi cab. This, I'm afraid, opens up potential for all of the above. I don't think it's appropriate. Not when you know kids are listening.

Of course, this sort of use tends to be polarizing. I am ALL for creative license and freedom from censorship for those who so wish. It's just the way in which established stars of the industry built up this film, making it appear that if one doesn't use profanity, one is uncool...there's a specific trailer with Aamir and Imran that alludes to this...*that* is uncool, and simply irresponsible on their part, I think.

Dolce and Namak said...

Blah, you just missed out on another great comment from me because for some reason Blogger always decides to act up when I try to post comments on your blog that are longer than a paragraph.

But anyways, the gist of it was: I had plenty of warning from reading all the spoilers about the toilet humous in this movie, so thankfully the shock value was not there for me, I knew exactly what i was in for and managed to gloss over it easily because of that. I hate toilet humour and don't find it funny at all, so if the movie had been all about that I would have been back here rubbishing it instead of what I'm doing now.

But I find that too many people and too many reviews get caught up in the controversy of the language, and the shit and the DK Bose song to stop and take notice that it really is a sharply written script, a very well directed film and there is not a single performance in this that is not pitch-perfect, even from the parents who are in it all of 2 minutes. There should be more reviews about that and more talk about that, less shit-talking (pun intended).

I went, I laughed, and I plan to go back taking some of my BW-allergic friends. Because that's how funny I think this movie is once you get your nose out of Nitin's toilet bowl. :)

theBollywoodFan said...

Hey! It's somewhat of a tribute to the film and its cast and crew, that despite the elements it contains that we don't appreciate, we still laugh and enjoy the film overall (as my rating indicates).

Which is precisely what bothers me about the use of the language and toilet humor. (And I've said before that the language doesn't bother me too much -- see comments above.)

The film didn't *need* them to be successful. They almost seem forced in some respects, and *that's* why I find it puzzling. But then, I do get that any publicity is better than no publicity -- from a purely marketing standpoint, this was well done alright. (Not that AKP needs 'any' kind of publicity.)


But I find that too many people and too many reviews get caught up in the controversy of the language, and the shit and the DK Bose song

This is true, but if the film is based around these and has a good percentage of them, and if the majority of the promos centered around these, it's probably fair game for them to be the most discussed items. It might be what AKP was aiming for, anyway. It makes marketing sense.


At the end of the day, it's artistic license and it's all good, of course. But sometimes, one just wishes a film were directed at a greater audience simply because of its potential. I can't help but feel that way about this.

Thank you for stopping by and for your comment, the comment form issue notwithstanding. :) Enjoy the re-watch!

dunkdaft said...

That excerpt from Bollyspice's article, is horrible. I mean what are their criteria for 'taboo subjects?' Wasn't Astitva a taboo subject? Wasn't Ijaazat a taboo subject [back in 80s] Even the most commercial movie, Phir Milenge- wasn't taboo subject, right?

Blame it on PR circle of DB, nothing else. PR se yaad aaya, that trailer, disgusting. [sorry, but u know i am VERY unhappy with Aamir for this]. The other day I saw Aamir in a press conference, on many news channels, saying serious things like 'when your seniors are concerned about something, when they feel you hurt them... u should say ... BHAG DK BOSE DK BOSE' !!

GROSS!!!
I mean you're on national TV and u r making fun of seniors like that. That's not done at all. NO matter what the context is. I would have loved this movie if the swears were used in a natural way [in a limit]. I could see Vir Das was unconfortable saying 'chu...' every now and then. [or his sophistication was visible there]. Some nice examples of such movies like 99, ek 40 ki last local and a recent one [which instantly got into my mind after I saw DB] Shor In The City. Shor is way better and runs parrellally on such theme [sans some violence]. U must see that.I enjoyed the movie, but it was a shallow enjoyment.

Shor se yaad aaya, the same censor board beeped off 'Karma is a bi**h' song on TV, that approved Penchar and DK Bose to be aired 24 hours. Imagine kid in your house singing DK Bose. [a mad guy on twitter argued that he is okay if such thing happens ! ]. The composition is brilliant no doubt and the integration is excellent, but still, I am offended. As far as my memory is good, I had never seen promos of Fire or Kamasutra [raunchy bollywood, no] on national television. No. Another not done thing. If makers are concerned about its publicity, they should've chose Social Networking. After all, their target audience are most active on such networks. In this case what happend, people think 'oh, Aamir's movie, lets go'. Yes, there are areas who are not censor literated yet. They go to movies by 'star's name. WIth family. Yes, i had 8-9 yr old kid b/h me in the hall. Similarly Dhobi Ghat had family audience too. Moral of the story : If janta had put you on 'sar aankhon par', you should have respect for them-responsibility for them. I m not telling stop making such films, but as you have put 'stop hailing' them.

Sincere wish : hope the sequel would not see light of the day.

Would like to quote a very apt tweet by Lyricist Neelesh Misra : "If abusive language in films is celebrated because "that's reality", let's celebrate incest, wife beating, rape too, right? That's reality!"

Mansi said...

I saw the English version of this one...the profanities dint sound as gross even though most of them were in Hindi.. It was the toilet humor that was annoyingly loud and repetitive...while all performances were great i so agree that it WASNT path-breaking... The media like always played this one up a bit too much... Apart from ndtv which gave it 2 stars, I dint see any other channel or website give it less than 3....
Here are my reviews ...
Do drop by :)
http://eatpraylovemovies.blogspot.com/2011/07/delhi-belly-2011.html

Cheers!

maxqnz said...

Thanks for the excellent reviews. They confirm that DB is not for me, sadly. I am not a fan of vulgar language, and I'm almost a little sad that my Hindi has improved to the point where I get most of it. Put that together with what sounds like an overdose of toilet humour (which I don't mind in measured amounts), and DB's off my list.

99, on the other hand, sounds more promising, despite the language. I'd heard nothing of it before now, so thanks for the heads-up!

Dolce and Namak said...

@ The Bollywood Fan: Sorry, I must have sounded a little more drastic than I was (it was because I lost my comment) but I was actually quite happy with how little your review mentions the shit, as opposed to other reviews I have read, from professional critics. :)

But in regards to whether or not DB/AKP needed certain elements, I don't think that's the right question to ask. DB didn't get made because AKP *needed* to make it but because they *wanted* to make it. So when you look at it from the point of view of did they need to include the rough language and all that, I think that's a backwards way to look at it. They *wanted* to make a movie, and it just so happens that it had all this stuff in it. I really don't believe these things were added for the sake of publicity, I think they belonged in the original script if we go by what Aamir has been saying (ok, except for the songs which I understand are one of your biggest objections but I won't get into that now). And there was plenty of warning about them. So just because we have an image in our heads about what AKP should or should not do, that doesn't mean they can't take on a film that they want to make, and, well... make it. It is a production house, they make movies. Then they market the shit out of them (pun intended :P) in order to get their money back. :) At least that's how I see it, I don't really think in terms of keeping up the prestige of the name or the immaculate image of your brand. I think that's where we don't see eye to eye on this one.

Dolce and Namak said...

@ Dunkdaft - hey, sorry, I'm not in the habit of harassing other people's guests, but I can't keep my mouth shut on this quote you wrote:



Well, the thing is, they may all be reality, but swearing and having sex are neither illegal, nor imoral, nor are they harmful (physically or even psychologically) for anyone. They may be offensive to some people depending on their tolerance for things like that, but they don't even belong on the same level as rape, wife beating and other such crimes. The fact that they are even compared to be perfectly honest is disgusting. Also let's not forget, no one is "celebrating" swearwords in films, they are included because the film makers felt that they reflect the reality of the characters. But cussing never harmed anyone and in fact it is a fact of life for a vast majority. Whereas I should hope that rape and wife beating are not. I'm still shocked at the fact that anyone can even compare them or make any kind of parallels between the two.

Sorry for butting in. Just felt that this needed to be said because it;s been bugging me all day.

Anonymous said...

Hi BollywoodFan!


Two of my friends who live in Paris had the opportunity to see "DB" and this is what they are saying:

…………………

Charlènes:

« LOL throughout the film. Those expecting an Indian movie, bollywood type, will be disappointed because there it is modern and real India. Those who want a good movie and have a good time, they will be widely served. Too good!!!


………………..

Jean-Luc:

« I had a great time with this small, unpretentious film. Laughter guaranteed! Imran is pretty good, his co-actors too, and Poorna Jagannathan has a little something special that makes her special and friendly. Excellent film! »

…………………


And I, who has not yet seen this movie, I will join my companions wisely on this special bench, waiting for the release of the DVD. Meanwhile, to comfort me, I'll watch PL I just got recently. Better late than never! :P … ^_^


Warm greetings from S.o.F !!!

PS/ DB is rated ****/* by French audience!!! C’est grandiose!!!


Jamila

theBollywoodFan said...

Dunkdaft: You've obviously read my review well enough (and you know me well enough) to understand my point *exactly*. It's not that the film was made that's my problem, it's that the response to it has been typical of the audience.

Yes, the AKP PR circle is excellent, there's never been any doubt about that. But they succeed because the audience goes with the flow. My only contention is, SOME skepticism is healthy. And the media and the audience, when it comes to AKP now, seem to have lost most of it. THAT is my bigger concern as an Aamir Khan fan.

Look, the media and the stars each needs the other. Amitabh is not an exception to this. Aamir isn't, either. So they'll say and do things to stay in the headlines. And of course, the media wants the headlines to sell stories/clicks. That's my theory for the thing Aamir said in reference to a senior actor.

Ref: The censor board, *of course* there's a double standard here. There's a double standard in our audience, there's a double standard in Bollywood, in government, everywhere, so it doesn't surprise me one bit. I've seldom trusted Indian censors with creating standards and rightfully and consistently enforcing them, so no surprises there.

You're the second person this week who has recommended 'Shor in the City', will check it out, thank you!

Agreed that this does give 'Fire' a run for the money, but Fire had a strong foundational theme to it, I guess one could argue that Delhi Belly had no nudity, and Fire did (not that I would complaining about it entirely :D), but one was *clearly* more substantive, and I guess if one thinks visually seeing shit is more fun than a real film with a real story, then that's their problem, really. =)

I wouldn't mind if they made a sequel. I would go see it, too. It'll be interesting to see what Aamir does once he's in there as a lead. From a filmmaking standpoint, it'll be interesting to see the actor and producer comes up with.

As far as the censor literacy goes, now...that to me is entirely the theater staff's fault for allowing kids in there. There's no way Aamir can control that.

And lastly, I must say I fiercely disagree with Neelesh Mishra's tweet there. I agree that refraining from abusive language is just the classy thing to do, but abusive language is, 99.999% of the time, not a crime. (The other .0001%, I'd guess it's the libel/slander/verbal abuse cases that are accompanied with it, where it is a legal issue.) Each of the other things he's mentioned: Incest, wife beating, rape, are serious crimes against humanity. I think it's a poor comparison. Again, I think ethically too, there's a big, big, difference. Just my thoughts.

Anyway, thanks as always for your visit and comment. I hope you enjoy my next post, as a music lover, I hope you might enjoy at least some of it. :)

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Mansi: We definitely agree on the toilet humor which got redundant. Will check out your review soon. Thank you for your visit and comment!

theBollywoodFan said...

Maxqnz: Aadaab! Thank you for your visit and comment. LOL at the Hindi 'is improved to the point' comment. I'd moved out of India before I got a grasp of the vulgarities (English is still my first language, in so many ways :D), so I can relate.

Right, it's somewhat unfortunate, that. I liked the film over all, but I figure it's approrpriate to, as the film's trailers do, provide some indication of the nature and extent of the elements some might find questionable. :) Enjoy 99, there's a cricket angle to it that I haven't mentioned at all, and as someone who understands the game, you might find it a bit more fun!

theBollywoodFan said...

Dolce and Namak: Oh pray do share some more of those reviews! I've read only a couple, and it seems this more than any other AKP film has gotten people on the 'Aamir's the benchmark of his generation of actors' bandwagon. About time, for something we've known for 15 years. ;)

I agree that these things belonged in the script, there's no way they were integrated for the heck of it, or they wouldn't be all over the place as they are.

However, I can't help but wonder that if they really wanted a challenge, they could've tried to have toned things down a little *then* tried to have made it succeed. The answer to that as it applies to AKP we'll never know, and that's fine.

I don't think I said I objected to any of the songs, as in the film. I've embedded them above, I've said they were well integrated, and I've also said I've enjoyed them. I'll say this again: The language/sex didn't bother me much (look, I enjoy Jon Stewart, Chris Rock, South Park, and Dev.D, need you know more? :D) as the visual depiction of shit. Sorry, just not for me, don't know any other way to say it. :)

I do agree completely that we can't let our image of what any production house should or should not do impact how we receive these films. That's another hallmark of group think (of that term again!)!

You said:

It is a production house, they make movies. Then they market the shit out of them (pun intended :P) in order to get their money back. :) At least that's how I see it, I don't really think in terms of keeping up the prestige of the name or the immaculate image of your brand. I think that's where we don't see eye to eye on this one.

From my previous comment:

At the end of the day, it's artistic license and it's all good, of course. But sometimes, one just wishes a film were directed at a greater audience simply because of its potential. I can't help but feel that way about this.

I'm sorry if this wasn't articulated well enough in that first sentence, we do see eye to eye on this. If it's my brand, I'm effing doing with it what I want. And if I'm AKP, I don't ever need to make anything, I make what I want to make (and if I want to make it). No doubt about that.

I was only opining on what I wish the film could've been. Not that I think it's absolutely right or wrong, one way or another. That'd be too polarizing. Like Delhi Belly, in some ways. It doesn't have to be that way. (And that's where I disagree with Imran's comment, "It's a polarizing film, you'll either love it or hate it.") That's too simplistic a way to look at it. Truth is, he's been fighting the one-film-wonder tag for a while now, and this film finally pulled him out of that trouble, good for him!

Remember what we were saying while twittering about that Raj Kapoor film you were watching the other day. It doesn't *have* to be 0/5 or 5/5. In fact, it rarely is. There is a middle ground which applies to most films we see, and that's where I stand on Delhi Belly, although my rating rightfully suggests that I'm more on the positive side than negative.

Cheers!

theBollywoodFan said...

PS: Dolce and Namak and Dunkdaft:

Please see my comment to Dunkdaft above. Also, I don't think that the tweet was aimed at the filmmakers, probably more at the critics (but that's my assumption, we can assume what we want, of course).

As much as I fiercely disagree with abusive language being compared to rape and wife beating, I fiercely disagree with the denial of a celebration of swear words in Delhi Belly. The promo that stars Aamir and Imran very explicitly celebrates cussing as being 'cool', not for the 'stuck ups', and the in thing. Sounds like a celebration to me. (Synonyms of 'celebrate' from Merriam-Webster: praise, exalt, glorify, laud, magnify, resound)

I agree there is a case for the language in Delhi Belly being part of the script, but I also think we can say that of almost every other film if we wanted to (i.e. in fiction, swear words can reflect every adult character's 'reality' if the script writer wants them to. It is not reality, it is fiction, after all.)

I don't mean to take it all too seriously, though, and I tried to reflect that in my review. It should be more about laughing and having a good time, and if we want to truly derive *any* inspiration from Delhi Belly, independent of all else but the film as a product of media and entertainment, I think this is one thing we can all agree on!

Cheers.

Dolce and Namak said...

This is the comment that led me to believe you didn't approve of the songs, well, of the one song :)

"I think the fuss is more about the use of the term and how unapologetic the use has been in the mainstream media, since the song was released. In the west, you don't expect to hear sheer raunch when you turn on prime time TV, or when you walk into a (normal) music store, or when you sit in a taxi cab. This, I'm afraid, opens up potential for all of the above. I don't think it's appropriate. Not when you know kids are listening."

One day we can discuss what dirty words we each knew at the age of 8, but I've taken up too much space here already ;)

Re: the promo with the cussing, I totally see what you're saying (and I amply rolled my eyes at that one when it came out), but I have already decided to separate the film from its marketing in my head, so when I talk about the value of cussing in the film, I dissociate that from whatever the promos made it look like. Mostly because the promos will be forgotten 2 months from now, while the film will always be there, so that's really the part that matters. We can agree to disagree on that one while agreeing that there is an overall fun value to the film which people will never know of if they get hung up on the "shock value" that keeps getting advertised.

About the film's potential for a wider audience... yes, I guess we'll never know how that would have gone, but Indian cinema seems to be getting more and more focused these days anyway, it's not the family oriented industry that it used to be, for better or worse. So if YR can have a division of films just for teenagers, I suppose it's only fair that films would get made that are only intended for the age group that we belong to.

I'll try and hunt down some of those reviews for you, but pretty sure you'll find a bunch on the spoilers thread on BollyWHAT. It took me reading through a number of them before seeing the first word on Imran's acting (which as you know I was very interested in) :)

Oy! So much controversy, over so simple a film! :)

theBollywoodFan said...

Hey, hey. I see where you're coming from, thank you for your comment. I guess I'm guilty of trying to look at the film inclusive and independent of the actual product of film. But you're right, it often helps to separate them.

Of course, I don't hold Aamir and AKP entirely accountable for the one song playing all over the place, or theater owners allowing kids in to see the film. That would simply be unfair, of course, especially since there was a conscious effort to educate on the the content ratings.

There's *obviously* a market for this kind of film. There always was and always will be, and there's nothing wrong with that. Heck, I'm *IN* the market for it (18-35 male, English-speaking, Indian) and I'll go see a sequel. I have few issues with cussing in film, I just think it's distasteful to label those who disagree as 'uncool'.

(I try not to cuss in my speech, and I think a concerted effort to use good and respectable words is way more cool. 0:)

I've often said at this blog, and I know you agree, that there is room for all kinds of films in Bollywood, and the industry is big enough and appreciated enough to sustain them all. It's a sign of growth and good health, too.

My only hope is, being a fan of the industry because of what it is and not because of what it is not, and since Aamir's films (admirably) tend to be a bellwether for Hindi films and filmmakers, that this one in particular doesn't become one of those benchmarks. To borrow from a colonel from Lagaan, "Do you realize what this means? There will be #*($& films all over the damn sub-continent."

That's the tide I wish is avoided. The family-orientedness of
Hindi cinema has for quite long (I'm thinking last 15 years or so) not been the norm, and I think that's healthy, too.


Oy! So much controversy, over so simple a film! :)

Yes! I'm SO tempted to discuss the role of controversy in effective marketing (!!)...oh well. :D

Cheers!

theBollywoodFan said...

Jamila!!! Great to hear from you, thanks so much for stopping by.

"Modern and real India" can be so different to so many people, it's great to learn from others' views, so thank you for sharing your friends' opinions and I'm glad they enjoyed the film! I'd love to hear your take some day.

Enjoy Peepli Live, now *that* is a pretty good film alright!

maxqnz said...

"Yes! I'm SO tempted to discuss the role of controversy in effective marketing (!!)...oh well. :D "

THIS comment encapsulates my reaction to both the promotion of Delhi Belly and even to some degree the amount of profanity in it. II have worked in market research for 20 years or so, and was left with a distinct impression that the reaction was being played. Not with any great subtlety, but with a cynical eye on the box office. As the reviews kept coming out and kept highlighting the frequency and extent of profanity used, that iompression was merely strengthened. It reminded me of a passage from the Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy about an award called the Silver Rory for "the most gratuitous use of the word f*ck in a serious screenplay".

There's a distinct odour or marketing about both the "outrage" and the the content, imo. For me personally, the irony is that I still don't "get" what the obscenity is in the DK song, and am happy to remain ignorant thereof. But as much as I like Aamir's films generally, the whole "wounded artists standing up for free speech" routine rang distastefully hollow. "Cunning players standing up for free money" was nearer the mark.

The other interesting thing about the "free speech" side of the debate was also touched on by thebollywoodfan "it's distasteful to label those who disagree as 'uncool'." In every discussion of this sort, those who are "pushing the envelope" (as everybody connected with DB missed no opportunity to remind everyone they were doing) defend their right to say whatever they like, but attack and condemn those who exercise THEIR right to speak out against what troubles them.
This tends to be done by ad hominem attacks, which are not only insulting to the individuals (intentionally so, by definition) but also the mark of a weak argument.
I don't understand the angry firestorm of protest against films like this one - if the promoted content offends you, don't go and watch it, and stop acting as unpaid marketers/promoters for it. But I do find ironically amusing the way so often the proud defenders of free speech resort to personally insulting those whose views are different from theirs when such protests do come. Often by sweeping demeaning generalisations of the sort alluded to by thebollywoodfan.

bollywoodfoodclub said...

bollywoodfanji, Many more interesting comments have poured in here. I'm just popping back in to tell Dolce and Namak that I have the same problem with posting comments on blogger, especially longer comments, and it's why I don't comment on too many blogger blogs anymore, because a simple comment turns into a bit of an ordeal and all of the sudden I notice I've been trying to post it for 15-20 minutes! I have lost comments, and now normally write them in word and copy, since I've lost so many in the posting process ordeal of blogger. I've tried changing browsers, etc.. but I know for this particular blog, explorer works, and chrome does not. So D&N, I share your struggle. Jai Hind!
All the best,
Sita-ji

theBollywoodFan said...

maxqnz: Thank you for sharing your insight, you've articulated it perfectly. It's encouraging when at least two sides to a story are acknowledged. As you say, and I agree, any level of skepticism would lead one to believe the reaction was played here.

theBollywoodFan said...

Sita-ji: Thanks for stopping by, and I'm sorry about your issues with the comment form. I use Chrome to comment/post here, and don't seem to have any problems with it. In the mean time, I've disabled the word verification, will be on the lookout for any issues. If you find something else, please do let me know.

Anonymous said...

@theBollywoodFan:
Hi remember me? remember when i couldn't register at AK blog.
Now problem solved!! i'm finally registered!
But Aamir is not replying since May!!
Wonder where he is now!! We really miss him.
BTW what is your name at AK blog?