10 years of Delhi Belly: Director Abhinay Deo talks about the film and working with Aamir Khan

In the last decade, Abhinay Deo has given us films like Game, Force 2, Blackmail, and the two seasons of 24 and is soon going to release his next titled Doosra. However, he will always be remembered for Delhi Belly, which was a huge hit when it released in 2011. The film recently completed 10 years, but is still fresh in the minds of the audience. In a candid chat about the 10-year feat, the filmmaker opens up about why he didn’t rope in bonafide stars for the movie, how involved Aamir Khan was as a producer, and how, as a filmmaker, he has evolved after Delhi Belly. Excerpts:

Apart from Imran Khan, everyone else in Delhi Belly was pretty much a non-star at that point. With Aamir Khan backing the film, why didn’t you rope in big stars?

As a director, I wanted an ensemble film. It was supposed to be a surprising film. It was a film that was never done before in the Indian film industry. I wanted to give it a fresh feel, and I did not want any actor to come with any sort of baggage. Imran had done only one film then (Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na). The bottom line for me was that I didn’t want people to expect anything from the star cast. That’s why we went with new names, and not big stars, despite the fact that Aamir could have roped in big stars. But we didn’t want to go that way.

Is it true that Ranbir Kapoor and Chitrangda Singh had signed the film?

No, they were not signed for the film. Ranbir was approached for the film though. At that point, he had also done just one film, Saawariya. It was a toss-up between Imran and Ranbir as both of them had done one film each, and they did not have much baggage. Chitrangda’s name did come up, but it did not go through and was never finalised.

After completing the shoot, it took you about two years to release the film. What caused the delay?

We shot it in 2009 and the movie came out in 2011. There were a few reasons for the delay. Many people like to believe that Aamir Khan likes to interfere, but he does not. Aamir is a perfectionist. He has a strong point of view on things, but he never interferes.

Delhi Belly was a very different film with no precedent. So, we had to get the pitching of this film right. A film like this can easily tip towards being obscene if overdone or become slapstick if watered down. And that was one thing that we did not want. Hence, we were extremely careful and that was the reason why the editing took time. We edited the film a few times. And when we were ready with the film, Aamir had two other films — Dhobi Ghat and Peepli Live — gearing up for release. Aamir didn’t want to release the comedy film first as that would lighten up the entire mood and people would expect something similar from other movies as well. Therefore, he decided to release Dhobi Ghat and Peepli Live first and then Delhi Belly.

In the past 10 years, how have you changed or evolved as a filmmaker?

The first film I made was so bold and out-there that I lost fear of making a film after that...this is the biggest change that has happened in me. I can dabble in different genres, try different stunts and all sorts of madnesses. And that is exactly what I try to do and keep pushing the envelope.

What’s your process behind picking up projects?

My process is simple: I should be able to add value to whatever I am working on. I am also an ad filmmaker, which keeps me busy. I go for features only when I feel I can add value to something that I would love to be a part of. Hence, I take my time in choosing projects.

What next?

I am waiting for the release of Doosra, which is a path-breaking film.

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