The Dirty Picture

The unofficial biopic of a south sex ‘symbol’ Silk Smitha, ‘The Dirty Picture’ nuances, or rather expands the meaning of the word ‘dirty’. It urges to reflect, realise and redefine. Subtly portraying the grossly seamy side of many grand social ideals, Luthria pulls off a masterstroke. The promos attempt to lure the testosterone driven society who otherwise inhibit the explicit expression of sex, to the halls with the promise of skin-show to smooching scenes, only to partake a second time of a forbidden fruit. As RajatArora puts it, ‘Jab sharafat ke kapde utarte hain, toh sab se zyaada mazaa sharifoan ko hi aata hai’

The unabashed demeanour of the film unequivocally presents not just the exploits of the flesh-obsessed industry and the unapologetic radical attitude of its resident, Silk, but also the hypocritical social perception. The Dirty Picture is a substance based thought-provoking film with an exceptionally powerful performance by VidyaBalan.

Whether it is the self-objectization of Silk or marketing strategy of the ‘The Dirty Picture’ based on the lines of ‘Entertainment, Entertainment and Entertainment’, self-depreciating commentary runs through the storyline. The Dirty Picture is not just about the unfortunate demise of a barefaced sex siren due to her unfulfilled love, deceit and infidelity. It is also about the portrayal of women as ‘entertainment’ for men in the male-dominated industry, and how women come to accept it as a way of life, and before they realise otherwise, it’s too late. In Silk’s words, ‘Taaliyoan ki gargaraahat mein gaaliyan sunaai nahi deti’

The story begins in typical Bollywood “ishtyle”. A village girl Reshma, much fascinated by the glam and glitter of films, escapes a day before her marriage to the big city-Madras to realise her ‘impossible’ dreams – to be a superstar. She knows that she has ‘something’ that directs men, and she knows when and how to use it. Following repeated rejections, she finally gets a break. And taking the opportunity as a challenge, she erotically impresses the audience. Re-christened by the director as Silk, she calls him a worm in return! This symbolically is the crux of the entire movie. “Keeda hi toh silk ko banata hai” With falling out bosom, plunging hemlines, podgy hemlines, sexy waistlines, she soon becomes every man’s fantasy. But the same people, who make a star out of her, pull her down consequently. As reflected in the suicidal note, she realises all that glitters is not gold.

The movie captures unsaid realities in subtle ways. Sexual violence as in the ‘dirty’ pictures of the 80s, as well as of today, shown in pornographic movies (where the woman first resists, but later actively participates) is depicted in the song where Silk hits herself with a hunter.

The movie though doesn’t express a particular viewpoint, in its essence it is a social commentary.

The actress, Vidya Balan has put her soul and body into Silk. Whether she’s cracking rudimentary innuendos or bursting out of her hot pants to flaunt the added 12 kilos. She comfortably shows off her obtruding belly, in a world where her contemporaries run after a flat stomach.

Through the course of 2 hours 30 minutes, the female protagonist falls in and out of love with three men Suryakant, an ‘aged’ superhero, his brother Ramakant, a writer and Abraham, a rival director who loathes the idea of incorporating steamy scenes just to congregate spectators in the theatre, but ends up falling truly in love with Silk. The narration in Emran’s powerful voice stands out, so does the heavy open-to-interpretation “dialogue baazi“.

Vishal-Shekhar’s 80’s style dhinchak songs gets your foot tapping and Shirrodkar’s background score enhances the engaging plot, with ‘Ooh-lala’ already a global chartbuster.

Despite Vidya Balan’s exceptionally strong performance, the film is far from perfect. Due credit must go to Milan Lutharia and Rajat Arora for their extensive research on Silk Smitha, an eye for detail, the costumes, and for getting the look of the film just right. Rajat’s dialogues are sure to make you sit up and take notice. Few sequences might remind us of the movie Fashion, but they remain true to the style of 80s. Tusshar is undoubtedly a miscast. Abraham’s change of attitude towards direction, and a change of heart towards Silk, comes across as forced, and do not fit.

Though the script is powerful, and dialogues insightful, the movie would have fallen off its edge had it not been Vidya as Silk.