Films | The Dirty Picture – Movie Review

The Dirty Picture – Movie Review

Posted by FATEMA H.KAGALWALA on December 2, 2011 | No Comments

PRODUCER – Ekta Kapoor, Shobha Kapoor
DIRECTOR – Milan Luthria
WRITER – Rajat Arora
CAST – Vidya Balan, Naseeruddin Shah, Emraan Hashmi, Tusshar Kapoor
MUSIC – Vishal Dadlani, Shekhar Ravjiani

The much-touted ‘The Dirty Picture’ is a Vidya Balan show all the way. Supposedly inspired by the life of the south film industry siren Silk Smitha, and borrowing from the lives of other dancing ladies of the 80’s, the film tells the story of Silk, a small-town girl with stars in her eyes. In a drama-packed two plus hours director Milan Luthria spells the story of the making and breaking of a star who is a sex symbol first.

Silk is a regular girl with complete knowledge of the importance of her sexuality. She uses it perfectly to her advantage to rise through the male-dominated hypocrisy of the film world. But she loses her edge as, shrouded in the complexities of the life she has chosen, love eludes her. Life continues to betray her expectations and she cannot win even as she thrashes back in the true spirit of the fighter she is.

The film and Silk’s life weaves itself onwards with the coming and going of three men. The first is superstar Suryakant whom she loves but is betrayed by. The second is Ramakant, his writer-brother, who Silk helps find his feet but who chooses to abandon her. The third is Abraham, director and Silk’s professed arch-enemy who comes into her life a tad too late.

The film engages with the idea of female sexuality and how male voyeurism objectifies women without inhibition yet labels the object of lust as ‘unacceptable’. This is a rather sub-textual engagement not revolutionary and amounting to little but gives the film an important context to base its characters upon. The film after all is the story of a dancing star’s life who was a sex symbol yet found the hypocrisy of the world too enormous for her firebrand rebellion.

The film extracts great performances from its lead cast. Vidya Balan traipses effortlessly through the innocent to experienced to shattered stages of her characters lives bringing her sorrows and joys ecstatically alive. Naseeruddin Shah’s megalomaniac star makes for convincing grey shades even as Tushaar Kapoor’s diffidence and Emraan Hashmi’s vengeance keep us engaged. The film establishes the world of 80’s cinema with consistent although rather surface attention, just enough for us to remember the context of its age.

It is full of colour and brightness, much like the kitsch of the film world it portrays. It keeps you interested in wanting to know Silk’s story even though it never allows you to really care. Made in the true masala mould of superficial characterisation, high drama and numerous whistle-worthy moments The Dirty Picture manages to tell its story convincingly. But really, what remains at the end of the viewing is the under-utilised potential of a talented actress amongst us who single-handedly keeps the soul of the film bright and burning. Anyone else and it would have all come to a nought.

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