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Wednesday, August 04, 2021

Delhi Belly filmmaker Abhinay Deo on Imran Khan: ‘Such a fine person, sad we don’t see him enough’

On the 10th anniversary of Delhi Belly, filmmaker Abhinay Deo, talks about Imran Khan's departure from films and his wish to make yet another movie in the same genre.

Written by Komal RJ Panchal | Mumbai |
July 1, 2021 1:08:10 pm
delhi belly imran khan kunaal roy kapur vir das 10 yearsDelhi Belly released on July 1, 2011. (Photo: UTV Motion Pictures)

Delhi Belly, starring actor Imran Khan, stand-up comedian Vir Das, and Kunaal Roy Kapoor, struck a chord with viewers for its brazen humour and bold songs. Today, on the 10th anniversary of the film, director Abhinay Deo, whose last project was Irrfan Khan’s Blackmail (2018), talks to about the film, lead actor Imran Khan, and his exit from films, as well as Deo’s wish to make yet another film in the same genre.

Here are some excerpts from the interview:

Did you have any worries about the backlash Delhi Belly would receive, given the profanity used in the film’s dialogues?

We knew that the youth is going to love it. We were sure that college-goers and people under 40 would relate to the film, but we didn’t know how the older generation was going to react to it or even accept it. Our country is known for very, very strong and opinionated people raising objections. So, we were not sure what was going to happen, but we were convinced that this story should be made, and that it should be made the way we envisioned it. It was my first film and I didn’t want to roll back at all. I wanted to make a very non-hypocritical film, I wanted to go out there and say that ‘This is it, this is also how a film can be as well. With due respect to other films that were being made, but hey why aren’t we making something honest, straightforward, mad, crazy, relevant, all put together in one’.

The fear was there that people might ban it, that there would be some people who’d throw stones at the film posters. We had thought of all these possibilities, luckily nothing of these things happened. Lots of people got offended, older people did, certain people from the industry also felt ‘what kind of nonsense have these guys made!’ Luckily, all the relevant people did not object to it.

Would you be able to make the film today, given the present social-political scenario?

Absolutely! I personally believe that our country has such polarised opinions. And, because of that, there is this crazy balancing act in our system, there is an ever-boiling turmoil. It is not a smooth sailing system, whether it is in cinema or real life, politics or business. Because of this, we are always going to have some kind of objection to a risky subject. So, I feel, even today, this is a film that still holds ground, it still can be made, it should be made, it will have difficulties and there will be objections. But if there is no pain, there is no gain. As filmmakers, our job, apart from entertaining our audiences, is to satisfy their creative need at every given juncture of their life. Hence, an element of risk is always there.

Imran Khan, with Delhi Belly,  stood out as a versatile actor. The film rid him of the chocolate boy image that he had created with Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na. But he did not get too many opportunities. Do you feel sad that he didn’t get a chance to showcase his true talent?

I am nobody to comment about his career, because retrospectively speaking about someone is very dodgy. In life, one may take calls or decisions which may or may not work. Each actor, each person goes through their own graph, so I’ll not comment on his graph.

Certainly, I feel that Imran, potentially, is a person who should have got a lot more work done, and I say this particularly because I have interacted with him a lot, while we were doing this film. He is such a fine person, such an intelligent man, extremely well-read and well-informed. It is sad that we don’t see him enough, in stuff that we should have seen him in. I am saddened by it, but by the end of the day each person has their own graph in their own life and they go about it in a certain way.

If you had to make Delhi Belly today, how different would it be? Also, you never made a Delhi Belly 2, even when there were rumours of it all along?

Delhi Belly was ten years ago, but it could be the same even today. It is completely ageless, maybe the boys would have a changed dressing sense, or better phones, but I don’t think they would be able to afford the fanciest of phones even today. The film is a depiction of the youth, whether it is the youth of ten years ago or now.

Rather than making Delhi Belly 2, what I would really like to do is make another film in the same genre, which is as crazy or crazier, which is what I am working on at the moment. I suppose, I’d like to put it out in the next couple of years. We’re working on a script.

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