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The core beneath the pulp

As “Delhi Belly” hits theatres, Anuj Kumar speaks to Imran Khan


I don't talk about the PIL at the film platform. I try to keep the two issues separate as much I can. I know a section is projecting me as somebody who is promoting alcohol. I always start with telling youngsters about the dangers of alcohol addiction. It is something that I have seen closely in my family and experienced with my friends. At the same time I believe that addiction issues can't take away an adult's right to drink responsibly. It is kind of hand holding. It comes from the space of benevolence that beta, we will help you! The intention is good but you are taking away an adult's freedom.




SHOCK AND AWE" Delhi Belly" is more a gritty film than a stylised one, says Imran Khan

After a promising debut with Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na, Imran Khan was anointed as the next big thing and the media put him in the race to the top slot with Ranbir Kapoor. That he shifted genres hinted at his ability to adapt. But the ways of the box office can be cruel. A couple of duds later he returned to the boy-next-door image but the results got only marginally better. However, all this while he stayed clear of controversies. But this time it is different. Riding on the publicity generated by the song “Bhaag DK Bose Bhaag” from his latest film Delhi Belly and the PIL that he has promised to file against the Maharashtra government's decision to raise the legal age to drink from 21 to 25, Imran Khan has become controversy's latest child. Will it help?

Excerpts from an interview:

What kind of humour can we expect from Delhi Belly ?

It is very (four times) underplayed. The humour is straight-faced and deadpan. We don't draw attention to the joke. The line is just casually thrown out as part of the proceedings. This is a kind of thing where the film holds out a hand and says, ‘Come with me… I am not going to come to you; you have to come with me'. In such a scenario the audience becomes an active participant.

In the past some stylised films inspired by western thought have failed miserably.

Delhi Belly exists on the strength of its screenplay. It is not a stylised film. It is a gritty, 95-minute English film with no interval. In and out! Songs are part of the background score. We are also releasing a Hindi dub because we feel it is not an elitist film. It could reach out to bigger numbers. Some films are very rooted in their culture. You can't expect to make Pulp Fiction in India because it is very American in thought. Similarly, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels is a British film. Some guys have tried to put them to an Indian context but since the stories are so alien nobody has been able to connect with them. Delhi Belly succeeds where such films have failed. The script is in that mould but it is an Indian film. Everything that happens emanates from an Indian thought.

You must have an idea that DK Bose will generate controversy.

Yes, we were quite sure. The idea is “DK Bose” is an indicator of the film. If you like the song then you will like the film. If you don't like the song, I think you won't like the film.

You are presenting it as a case of honesty.

That's the way it should be because if you are dishonest in your promotion then people get really upset. We don't want to drag people into our film. We want people who are really interested in our film.

It is being construed as something inserted for shock value.

Some people have a hard time understanding that every film can't be a family entertainer. As creative people we have no compulsion to make only one kind of film.

There is a section that feels youngsters don't watch it for aesthetics but for ‘other' reasons.

Morals are not something that can be policed. They are something inherent. There is a tendency in the establishment to reject youth culture. If “DK Bose” had not become such a big hit nobody would have a problem. The fact that it has become a hit signifies that it has connected with the people. It is very scary for the older people. They say this is not the way young people talk. Then how did the song become a hit?

What about the social responsibility of cinema?

Then we should not show murder, extramarital affairs, drugs… When we talk like that we enter in the realm of censorship. We live in a society where free speech is guaranteed by the Constitution.

Why then is producer Aamir Khan taking a moral stand at the time of the film's release?

He just said that I knew this film will make a lot of people very angry. He asked for the adult certificate. How many producers have that courage? There are many films with UA certification where families go and get shocked with the kind of racist, sexist and homophobic jokes thrown at them.

The adult certification doesn't prevent young kids from singing DK Bose and embarrassing the parents.

If a child sings a song without understanding the meaning of it, I don't see a problem. For the kid it is DK Bose. It is for the parents that it is something else. I see a problem when kids are exposed to highly sexualised images, when women are called items. From a young age you teach children that racism is funny, that gay people are bad.

You are being constantly compared with Ranbir Kapoor but you don't seem to mind it.

I think the younger generation of actors is more chilled out. Earlier on, on an actor-to-actor and actress-to-actress basis there were more friction and tensions. These days we can hang out together, have parties and chill.

Are you working to reach out to your critics?

I am in no mood to win over my critics. I am happy with the people who like me. Some of us have a strange notion that acting should be seen… when the cheeks start vibrating, eyebrows go up, they say, ‘See, now he is acting!' I don't subscribe to this school of thought.

You mean sometimes underplaying is seen as non-acting?

Most of the times!


I don't talk about the PIL at the film platform. I try to keep the two issues separate as much I can. I know a section is projecting me as somebody who is promoting alcohol. I always start with telling youngsters about the dangers of alcohol addiction. It is something that I have seen closely in my family and experienced with my friends. At the same time I believe that addiction issues can't take away an adult's right to drink responsibly. It is kind of hand holding. It comes from the space of benevolence that beta, we will help you! The intention is good but you are taking away an adult's freedom.


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