Bollywood Gets Raunchy in Delhi Belly


Plying his stock-in-trade soulful eyebrows, Indian-American superstar Imran Khan plays Tashi, a bachelor preparing to ditch his slovenly flatmates (Kunaal Roy Kapur, Vir Das) for a future with his fiancée (Shenaz Treasurywala). In a still-conservative mainstream Hindi industry, Delhi Belly leads the questionable progress toward the establishment of a “desi raunch” genre: The film has premarital oral sex, hungry on-screen kisses, and graphically foleyed poo gags (the title is subcontinental slang for incontinence). When Tashi and company become tangled up with a ring of vicious jewel smugglers, cavalier sadism is added to the mix, as director Abhinay Deo and screenwriter Akshat Verma—whose script is delivered about two-thirds in English—show their debt to the clever, glib-violent Anglo-American thrillers of the ‘90s. Delhi Belly’s rare singing-and-dancing production numbers play classical Bollywood glitz for pure kitsch, the Ram Sampath–composed soundtrack otherwise tending toward up-tempo sing-along rock, including a hit song (“DK Bose”) with a subliminally dirty chorus. For all this censor-board razzing, the most enjoyably subversive element is Poorna Jagannathan as the self-sufficient bachelorette who waylays Tashi on his way to the altar. Rangy, corkscrew-haired, with a wry demeanor that can’t long be upset by anything, she’s a happy departure from the usual run of Xeroxed, pedestaled beauties.