The Dirty Picture – A review

For the first time in life, I watched a film within the first week of its release. Given the state of films these days, I am actually thankful that this one was worth my time and money. Now, where do I start? If I must summarize this film in one sentence, it is total value for money. It tells the story it wants to fairly well, has no pretensions of being an intellectual film (which suits me just fine) and entertains you for the 2.5 hours it runs. Like every other film ever made anywhere, it has its share of ups and downs. So, here we go!

Storyboard

Despite the disclaimer in the beginning of the film, it is the story of Silk Smitha, the wildly-popular item girl of the 80s. The director stays faithful to reality, while still taking some liberties with the details. Even our heroine is called Silk. For those familiar with the film industry scene of the 80s, the characters are familiar. The film doesn’t make any claims of making you think, and stays a true commercial film. Personally, I see nothing wrong with that.

Screenplay

Several loose ends. Why did the mother shut the door in Silk’s face? What transpired between the day she left home and the day she came back? What relationship did she share with her mother before she ran away from home? The mother is seen quietly weeping at Silk’s funeral without any conflicting emotions. The mother’s character lacks the depth that would have contributed greatly to the story.

The director could have devoted more time to exploring the complex relationship between the director and Silk, rather than wasting time on a rather one-dimensional love affair with the superstar’s brother that seems to serves no purpose other than enrage the superstar. Even the character of Ramakant as the superstar’s writer-brother seems to lack depth. A little bit of attention to the men in Silk’s life would have elevated the film to a level higher than just entertaining.

Whose idea was it to include that hilarious dream song between the director and Silk? It is completely pointless to include a song at that point and trimming away the excess would have made a good film better.

Music

Acquiring the rights to the Tamil song “Nakka Mukka” makes all the difference to the soundtrack. From the very beginning, the song sets the mood for the story. Every song takes you back to the 80s when films were garish and loud. On the whole, for a movie set in the 80s, the music was apt.

Acting

This is Vidya Balan’s film through and through. She carries the film on her shoulders with a performance that is nothing short of outstanding. There is plenty of cleavage, plenty of intimate scenes and plenty of swear words. But somehow, you never feel any of it is vulgar. Maybe, as other reviewers have suggested, it is because she gives herself so completely to the role that it seems natural rather than pretentious or vulgar. Despite prancing around in short skirts and cleavage-revealing tops, Vidya Balan manages to look sexy rather than vulgar. The way her appearance changes over the course of the film is testimony to the amount of work she has put into this role. Personally, she is the last person I would have expected to carry off a role like this. But, true to her style, she comes up trumps.

Once again, Naseerudeen Shah reminds you exactly why he is a veteran actor. He suitably downplays his role to give Vidya Balan her space but still matches her performance in every scene they have together. The aging superstar look, the pencil-thin moustache, the attitude, the behavior, all are perfect. Someone tell me why we don’t see more of him in movies? I was surprised to notice that Emraan Hashmi can actually act. And Tusshar Kapoor as well.  Maybe it’s true that a good actor is made by the director in whose hands he puts himself. With all-round good performances by everyone the acting is well above average.

The little things

Of course there are little things that rankle. Like the fact that the characters speak impeccable Hindi in a tiny Chennai potti-kadai. But this is a Hindi movie, so what did you expect? Also, the character of Nayla as the journalist is woefully underdeveloped. I kept expecting some sort of friendship/camaraderie to develop between Silk and Nayla and it never happened.  She merely reports what we already know. We get the feeling that we did not really need that character. Just a bunch of magazine clippings with gossip stories or scathing criticism would do.

The final verdict

Must watch. Once in a theatre, and repeat watches on DVD. Just try buying the originals and not the pirated version. This film deserves that!

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