There is something about Aamir Khan Productions that, despite all mixed news and not-so-positive gossip, makes its movies work. And interestingly, these movies work at different levels, fulfilling their respective aspirations. So while ‘Lagaan’ was an epic commercial, critical, and even international success, ‘Taare Zameen Par’ made money by manipulating the audience’s emotions, apart from making ‘dyslexia’ known to Indians as they had known malaria! ‘Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na’ was never meant to be a path-breaking film, just to be loved by the young crowd, and launch Imran Khan. And it successfully did both. ‘Peepli [Live]’ and ‘Dhobi Ghaat’ were small films with different sensibilities. Though their commercial performance should not be a benchmark to judge them, they still made more money than better ‘small’ films made outside this production house.
And then comes ‘Delhi Belly’.
It seems Aamir Khan has gained tremendous notoriety because of the way he promotes his films. This opinion against him is as natural as is the sentiment against powerful, capitalist institutions and nations. I don’t belong to that group of critics. But I think it is unfortunate that lately his movies are known more for their promotion campaigns than for the movies themselves. It is unfortunate, that on this date, the words ‘Delhi Belly’ denote expletives-ridden, uninhibited, adult content, rather than a good movie, which it definitely is. It will be unfortunate if the movie fails to get rid of this image, which is not untrue, but does absolutely no justice to the more wonderful aspects of it – the incredibly crafted screenplay, the perfect casting, the finely balanced performances, and the self-belief that when everything is correct, a film finds its audience. However, the worse thing that might follow if the movie does succeed is – the credit of its success being given to its ‘foul’ language and ‘adult’ sensibilities. I shiver with the fear that more movies will try to follow this, instead of realizing the true merits of the film, and we will be served with bad and truly degenerate stuff. ‘Delhi Belly’ will then be remembered for another bad reason – for setting the trend of ‘dirty’ cinema.
Watched the first day first show. After a long, long time, I saw the Hindi film audience laughing and smiling and excited as they left exit doors of the theatre. And yes, almost all of them were younger than me!