Let me clarify one thing before I go into the review. I never intended to believe the producer Ekta Kapoor and co. when they went on record declaring that Milan Luthria’s “The Dirty Picture” is not a biopic on Silk Smitha. I always believed that it was a mere excuse to have a clean chit before the law. Now, after watching the flick I can confidently say that is not completely based on Silk Smitha or any particular actor. Inspired? Yes. Biographical? No. I don’t believe if someone would say that Silk’s career got destroyed with a single or she never did a so-called “C-grade” flick. Smitha’s filmography boasts of films of all grades, genres and languages over the years and she was ‘barely’ apologetic about the fact that she had done all those ‘made-for-titillation’ products on celluloid.
Another surprising factor is that I never thought I’d catch an Emraan Hashmi flick in theatre, that too in the release weekend. Well, but me and the entire cinema hall knew that Vidya Balan would not indulge in sleaze without a reason and the movie is worth the risk for the actress. The winner in case of “The Dirty Picture” is its cleverly penned story and screenplay which for obvious reasons is very masses-friendly. Ahem ! But, Rajat Arora’s skilful writing lets the graph of the lead character’s life switch from realism to sleaze to oh-so-innocent to romantic to severe mental trauma.
The heroes basically have nothing to concrete to do. Naseeruddin Shah, certainly, reinforces his veteran status and his performance is flawless as always. The best thing about Tusshar’s character is that it suits him to the T and he comes out super-convincing. Emraan Hashmi, on the other hand, gets screen space mostly in the last reel and his restraint is commendable. But, again heroes are mere props in the narrative of “The Dirty Picture” which is all about Reshma’s (Balan) journey to stardom and her downfall.
The movie stars off brilliantly. The milieu of Madras in 80s has been captured with élan. Sprinkled with some crispy one-liners the first half holds you on the tenterhooks. The interval point sequence, again, packs a punch. The screenplay wavers in the second half. The storyline gets confusing and slightly cliché ridden and predictable. Yes, it does elevate the proceedings here and there but the magic of the first is definitely missing in the second half. The story leads to a pre-climax which is shockingly reminiscent of Madhur Bhandarkar’s “Fashion” where Priyanka Chopra goes on a guilt-ride after a high-on-drugs party. Although the climax well executed and performed, one wishes that some more creativity could have been brought into the culmination of the story. The end, though convincing, seemed kind of sudden. I doubt if the culprit is the editor. Nevertheless, even the second half hardly stoops to mediocre standards.
The writer gives life to some solid supporting characters in the story. The prominent one being Anju Mahendru’s gossip journalist modelled on Devyani Chaubal famous for her venom-spitting columns on the stalwarts of that era. The actress performs the character with complete understanding and is one of the highlights of the film. Also, Rajesh Sharma’s Selvaganesh is yet another character which packs a solid punch. Wish he had some scenes towards the end as well. The actor has got a magnetic persona. Mangal Kenkre is yet another character who disappears vaguely in the second half.
On the technical front, “The Dirty Picture” is a winner, all the way. The cinematographer (Bobby Singh) has recreated the 80s’ Chennai backdrop with excellence. Music by Vishal-Shekhar comprises of three well composed and beautifully picturized tracks with my personal favourite being Sunidhi Chauhan’s jazzy “Honeymoon Ki Raat”. Dialogues and lyrics are top-notch and the former easily ranks among the best of the year. Editing by Akiv Ali could have been slightly better. Production design and costume departments deserve major applause.
Now, let us talk about the real heroes of the film. The gusty director (Milan Luthria) goes all out to ensure that “The Dirty Picture” doesn’t end up being a glorified skin flick. He maintains the grip in the narrative from start to end. The unusual raciness that he lends to the heroine-centric story is what makes it highly entertaining. Vidya Balan, the protagonist, makes it impossible for the audience to believe that there’s anyone else in the industry who could have enacted “Silk” better. She plays the bold, unabashed, shameless, arrogant yet sensitive glam diva with complete understanding. The movie could have been a severe career suicide for the actress but she’s someone who’s always chosen to swim against the tide. One would never expect Vidya to be associated with Silk Smitha. But, once you come out of the theatre you’ll be enamoured with deep respect for the actress for pitching in such an aesthetic, classy performance as a sleazy siren. Minus Vidya Balan, Bollywood would have certainly missed out on an era which could possibly bring out more and more avenues for capable female actors.
Moreover, there is no denying fact that the blockbuster success of the film could be attributed to the “skin factor” as well. The posters are raunchy enough for the desi public to hit the theatres and movie is even more tantalizing. Yet, what lies beneath is a cleverly pitched out story which deserves to be seen, deciphered and appreciated. Don’t miss the chance to discover the story of a dancing starlet who was famous for her silky body, firebrand moves, fake orgasmic sigh and a devil-may-care attitude. Go for it !!!
Rating : ★★★ 1/2