Vidya Balan is Silk, and Silk is entertainment
“Silk is the only hero in this industry”, says a film journalist in The Dirty Picture and after watching the film, I can also say, Vidya Balan is the only hero in the Hindi film industry. Not because she has ‘dared to bare’ but the conviction with which she’s played the character of Silk – a dancing star from the eighties who knows her sexuality is her biggest strength. While most actors claim to prepare for their roles, there is rarely a performance where an actor completely lets go of any inhibitions and becomes the character on screen. This is where Vidya wins; she looks good, she looks fat, she looks ugly, but she looks and behaves like the charater, Silk in the film.
Apart from Vidya, The Dirty Picture works because of its entertainment factor and Rajat Arora’s sassy writing plays a major role. The dialogues are provocative, shocking and dirty, true to the film’s name. Director, Milan Luthria packs a punch in the first half; however the film goes downward like the lead character’s career in the second half. It starts with a village girl, Reshma (Balan) coming to Madras with big dreams. She struggles, sleeps hungry and almost gives up, till someone offers her Rs. 20 to sleep with him. Her life changes, she gets a big break and the attention of the reigning superstar, Suryakant (Naseeruddin Shah). Silk’s journey to the heights of stardom is extremely entertaining and engaging where two other men appear in her life; Ramakant (Tusshar sans Kapoor), an upcoming writer in awe of her persona and Abraham (Emraan Hashmi), a director who hates Silk and what she stands for. The film soars in the first hour and a half but the last hour is poorly executed as suddenly you feel disconnected from Silk while you’re supposed to empathise with her.
Naseeruddin Shah once again delivers a spectacular performance as a manipulative and selfish star, for whom, women are just objects to entertain. He also has the best lines in the film and manages to match up to Vidya’s pizzazz in an elaborate dance number with kitschy costumes, over the top sets and raunchy moves. The song, ‘Ooh La La…’ is the film’s highlight (Vishal Shekhar – music composers); Bappi Lahiri and Shreya Ghoshal capture the mood perfectly with their vocals and lyrics by Rajat Arora. The other song that works is ‘Nakka Mukka’, which is borrowed (legally) from a Tamil film; it has a catchy beat and helps showcase Silk’s ‘bombaat’ attitude at various intervals during the film. The rest of the soundtrack is nothing great. Coming back to the actors, Emraan Hashmi does a fairly decent job and proves that he can be taken seriously as an actor now. Tusshar tries hard but fades in front of Vidya and Naseer’s powerhouse performances.
The film’s costume designer, Niharika Khan deserves a special mention for capturing the tackiness and razzmatazz of that era and the characters. There is a lot of cleavage on show but I guess that’s another reason the makers (producer, Ekta Kapoor) chose Vidya as the leading lady – her traditional and family oriented off-screen image helped keep the focus on the character and not on the sleaze.
The Dirty Picture is a brave film and shows how Indian filmmakers and the censors have grown – a heroine centric film can be commercially successful and Indians can handle bold subject matter. Go watch the film for three things, as clearly articulated by Silk – “entertainment, entertainment and entertainment”.
My rating: * * * ½ three and a half on five
– Shrey Khetarpal