Being a film buff from childhood, I noticed that Silk Smitha was the shunned topic. Helen was glamorous vamp but always classy. Silk was the snicker on men’s lips, the adult movie with a capital A, the larger than life sleazy poster at a forbidden theatre that you discovered when the bus was forced to take a strange galli (street) when faced with a Mumbai traffic jam..
She was the girl with the oomph factor that screamed bad – never mind, that her shows seemed sold out judging by the crowds of shifty-eyed men standing outside these theatres. The woman whose movies good girls did not watch.
Then along came the biopic The Dirty Picture directed by Milan Luthria, the guy with a penchant for nostalgia. With a decision to take a bold look at her life and an apt choice of heroine. Vidya Balan forces you to re-examine your antiquated perception of the woman called Silk. I watched the story unfold many years later in Dubai, UAE.
Her pauses speak more than her dialogues. If you are not careful, you miss Vidya’s emotive eyes blatantly assessing opportunities as she is eating or walking – such is the actress’ attention to detail. She forces you to see the reality of a woman who played by her rules and accepted that her sexuality will sell the movie but damn her if she chose to walk away from that stereotype.
Her three men
The first man in her life Surya, played by Naseeruddin Shah, is an excellent caricature of a 70s South hero playing young roles way past his prime (not changed much today in Bollywood or South). His abrupt shift in choosing marital harmony minutes post rendezvous with Silk and forcing her to watch the scene hidden in the bathroom disturbed the men in the theatre. They came looking for a dirty picture but did not want to see another reality. They left mid-interval.
The next man, Tusshar Kapoor seemed apt for his role – Naseeruddin’s brother and a writer with no identity of his own. He is chosen by Silk to get back at Surya – she is helped by the fact that he is besotted by her.
Emraan Hashmi as usual gets the sensitive and plum role – the critical director who first hates Silk and tries to destroy her rising career. Till she becomes his nemesis and he spouts her dialogues about movies being “only about entertainment” in an interview with Nayla, the film journalist vividly played by Anju Mahendru who secretly supports Silk despite writing vitriolic copy against her to sell her publication.
Some brilliant scenes in the movie include Silk playing saucily to a crowd and stirring the pot outside Nayla’s home after being forbidden to enter the journalist’s home. Or when she is wolfing food paid by a director and gets a satori on how her boldness and few calculated gestures could haze a man’s thoughts.
The highlight of the movie is when she weaves through the streets in drugged haze seeing reflections of her youth on various surfaces till the last reflection reveals her current reality to her – a woman misshapen with drink, the inability to make the right noises in society and a travesty of her former self.
Yet Vidya Balan is never vulgar and draws you further and further into her death wish story. She manages to draw a thin veil of dignity around her even in the worst of situations; yet her eyes mock you. All the way up to her suicide.
One can see Ekta’s touch in the parody scenes of the 70s where she has not spared her own father – spoofing the Jitendra Sreedevi/Jaya Prada starrers of yore. Rajat Aroraa’s dialogues are fantastic for most of the movie but the wit seems too contrived at times. There is a brilliant scene where Surya tells the rest that the time has come to do away with vamps and make the heroine dance the item number.
This movie should win Vidya Balan many awards.. She makes the bold very beautiful. The sordid larger than life…
Rating: 9 on 10