The Dirty Picture Review

‘Silk’ without worms preferred!

Can you guess the best asset of Vidya Balan? Yes, not her ‘assets’, but her mature and suggestive looks that make her beautiful yet completely misfit for doing a character like ‘Silk’. In the last two days, I watched Silk Smitha extensively on Youtube, right from ‘Sadma’ to ‘Reshma Ki Jawani’ (and a horrible song with Shakti Kapoor titled Bango Bango Bango) and believe me, the basic problem with TDP comes out to be the cultural difference that creates a Vidya Balan and a Silk Smitha! Let me explain it!

It’s not at all about acting because we expect it by default from Nasiruddeen Shah, Vidya Balan and a little bit from Imran Hashmi too (Sorry, can’t lie about Tushaar)! TDP is all about acting and recreating the 80’s Tamil cinema, but when you have resources and good actors, then this can’t be the decisive factor. Just recall the Madrasi characters of Ramgopal Verma (Silver Mani in ‘Sarkar’ and a Tamil film producer in ‘Agyaat’, who continously keeps his mouth open saying bizarre ayyoda). Or for that matter the south Indian gangster of Anurag Kashyap in ‘The Girl in Yellow Boots’. Yes, nakamaka, nakamaka… gives pace and ambience to kickstart a south based story, but it’s not all about jumbling words; neither asking for dosa everytime you feel like eating something. It’s essentially about the language, the accent that justifies costumes,  locations, dark faces, vermillion and other cultural symbols etc. Just think for a moment who connects with TDP? Is he/she a Tamil? No, because the film is in Hindi. So? A viewer from Hindi belt? Never, because the space-time is South Indian, except language! How pathetic it was to hear ‘aapattijanak’ from Tamil storywriter Ramakant’s (Tushar) mouth? Or, the Hindustani diction of Tamil superstar Suryakant (Nasiruddeen Shah)? This may fit into a Hyderabadi landscape at most, but not in the Dravidian socio-cultural scenario that has witnessed a strong anti-Hindi movement over years.  And in fact, the same movement has at times proved to be the catalyst for South Indian film industry!

So, neither north Indians nor south Indians have a logic to connect with TDP. Then why people are rushing towards it? That’s just for the same reason that made a Reshma ‘Silk’. Combined with a powerful promo campaign and colorful Savita bhabhi type posters, with a catchy title, convincing faces and a loud music score, (that’s downloadability is almost as sure as the mobile phones’ penetration into urban India) it’s not hard to realise 30 crores before release. The story that started Friday was just topping, and people gustling towards cinemas with their families to watch an ‘A’ rated movie were lured with the same elements that had recovered the production cost before the first show. Rest is just subjectivity, if you may like to call it thus. Everyone just repeating classy dialogues (the same ones that were shown in promos) after the show, but none talking about those “hot” and “dirty” scenes that lured them to cinemas! It’s because….it’s  because….what I said at the start… best assets of Vidya Balan are her mature and suggestive looks that make her beautiful yet completely misfit for doing a character like ‘Silk’. What may be called the really bold scene (where ‘Silk’ in hot chilly red costumes is trying to seduce herself on a bed) looks like a classic ‘Lux’ ad! Throughout the film, camera focusses on Silk’s assets, beeline etc., but the film viewer has a different focal point. In fact, the focal point of a viewer keeps on changing so rapidly that the camera fails to convince him and Vidya Balan constantly dominates over her character. If she is now thinking of an image makeover after TDP, someone must come to her rescue. Because it will not be the masters like Nasiruddeen Shah next time! And moreover, if it is true that “filmein sirf ek hi wajah se chalti hain…entertainment, entertainment, entertainment…”, then the other side too, that Vidya Balan is not entertainment!

So this was all about actor Vs. character. Now come to the storyline. I, as a common filmviewer,  do not know about ‘Silk’ before her star life. Whatever is told to me on the screen makes an initial impression of what the character is all about. A girl, fled away from her home one day before her marriage, entering into a metropolitan city is a situation that needs some detailing and description. Instead, the director leads us to a bedroom where a middle-aged couple is engaged in sex and the central character working as their maid is giving background music. Now, this is something like representative pleasure, a vice that instantly hits the viewers’ mind! Wasn’t this avoidable? Another shot just after that where Reshma says to Amma, “Amma, tumhaari imarat dekh kar lagta hai ki kitne mazdooron ne is par kaam kiya hoga”. What does the director wants to portray? What’s his priority? Dialogue or character? Remember both are correlated. So the representative sex scene and these type of ‘bold’ dialogues form the initial character of Reshma. And remember, all this before entering the film indusry!

So, when the celeb magazine editor Naila choses to write her as ‘beemaari’ instead of ‘bechaari’; when Suryakant says, ‘aisi ladkiyan ghar mein le jaane layak nahin hoti hain’; when her mother shuts the door in front of her; or she has to hide in the bathroom when Suryakant’s wife Radhika comes in abruptly; we don’t feel bad, we don’t feel sympathetic too. It’s rather pathetic, for the simple reason that the director didn’t left any space for the viewers to feel senti. This is due to the faulty character building of Reshma, where ‘Silk’ could never justify her claim, if it is, that she was the victim of that dirt and filth prevalent in the industry, that provoked Silk Smitha to commit suicide. A conscious viewer will naturally compare this situation with that of Fashion, where there is no such crisis because the character building of protagonist is strong, full of attitude, ambitious and “never say die” sort of thing, that leads her back into normalcy after a long spell of depression. Here it is not so (firstly due to the story that is based on reality, which is by default), but at least the suicide must be made justifiable for viewers. Just one weird incident and lo! Why should not we prefer the convincing death of Shonali (Kangna Ranaut) over Silk? The process through which an individual reaches to the conclusion of suicide is portrayed at its best in Fashion, and then the burden lies with the system that has watched silently. How can we morally shift the burden of Silk’s suicide on the system (here film industry) if there is nothing to be put up in contrast?

There is always a question of morality embedded within. If the suicide of central character does not arouse rage towards the system in a common viewer, then that death is a waste. Although, here is a point! This also may be the central idea and a very strong one too, that a character remains cursed after its death. But proving a death meaningless and waste requires mettle of a different nature that you can’t expect from the Luthria-Kapoor combo (And these two are not even responsible for that, when Imtiyaz Ali can create a confusion named “Rockstar”). Everything else has been said elsewhere in reviews. “The Dirty Picture”, if it is all about acting (that is very much expected of such a strong crew), dialogues (expected Luthria style) and Vidya Balan’s beauty (don’t utter a word), is I think an average act in wholesome.

Imagine a situation where you have just Nasiruddeen Shah, Imraan Hashmi and Vidya Balan standing on heaps of dollars. Do we need then a Milan Luthria or Ekta Kapoor, or for that matter any ‘Silk’ to make a nice film? Morale of the story: ‘Silk’ without worms preferred!
(Abhishek Srivastava)

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One Comment on “The Dirty Picture Review”

  1. Wow what a picture man , superb , what a dialog s , what a movie after so much time its a must must must watch movie , you will be missing something if u don't watch , because on television most of the movie would be edited , must watch enlightened me , Excellent movie

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