Intermittently, real life is far more appealing and compelling than fiction. And a biopic -- which attempts to recount a person's life story or at least the most historically momentous years of his/her life -- is most demanding for not just the storyteller/s, but also the actors who bracket together with those films. Occasionally, a dash of some imaginary anecdotes are incorporated in biopics, since the moviegoer seeks some diversion and entertainment in a movie, besides enlightenment.
Having said that I'd like to add that it's easier to take a recognizable route, to opt for the tried and tested, but it's frightfully difficult to be diverse. Producers Shobha Kapoor and Ekta Kapoor are known for accepting challenges and backing films like LOVE SEX AUR DHOKHA, RAGINI MMS and SHOR IN THE CITY and along with director Milan Luthria and writer Rajat Aroraa had successfully recreated the bygone era with flourish in ONCE UPON A TIME IN MUMBAAI. Now THE DIRTY PICTURE fires all powerful bullets to stir your mind's eye.
The general feeling is, THE DIRTY PICTURE is a biopic on the life and times of Silk Smitha, a sought-after actress of the 80s. I personally feel that THE DIRTY PICTURE draws inspiration from the struggling female actors in the 80s, whose insurmountable and indomitable spirit made them emerge triumphant and create a distinctive space for themselves in the male-dominated industry. It's a recreation of an era, with the makers seeking motivation from a lot of characters to create this one woman.
Let me clear this at the very outset. THE DIRTY PICTURE not only draws attention to the life of a sex goddess, but also makes us responsive of the catastrophe behind the facade. Silk -- the principal character in THE DIRTY PICTURE -- provides titillation to millions of viewers, but dies a forlorn and heartbreaking death. She battles fame, fortune and alcohol. Brave, daring and provocative, THE DIRTY PICTURE doesn't cross the line into impropriety and offensiveness.
Envisage a junior artist who became the most sought after female protagonist of the early 80s. Chronicling the meteoric rise and steep fall of a screen sensation, THE DIRTY PICTURE is set against the colorful and entertaining setting of the South film industry of the 80s.
The quintessential siren, Silk, knew her spectators and it didn't seem like anything would stop the intensely motivated starlet, till it did, in the shape of unrequited love. To the world, she was the queen of sensuality. But, at heart, Silk was just another woman craving for true love. An unfortunate encounter with deceit and infidelity led to dire consequences!
First things first! Milan Luthria is brave and intelligent. Brave, because Milan steps out of the comfort zone to narrate the tragic story of an actress. Intelligent, because THE DIRTY PICTURE does not develop into a dry and depressing fare at any juncture. This one stresses on -- as Vidya puts it -- entertainment, entertainment and entertainment. Well narrated and wonderfully executed, THE DIRTY PICTURE is sure to strike a chord with the avid moviegoer. I'd like to give brownie points to Rajat Aroraa's dynamic script and razor-sharp dialogue. The riveting screenplay and power-packed dialogue will remain etched in our memory for a long, long time, eliciting a similar response like ONCE UPON A TIME IN MUMBAAI. The writing holds the spectators' interest and doesn't let you digress from the screen, except for a few minutes in the post-interval portions. The portions between Emraan and Vidya slows the narrative, though, I'd like to add, it picks up dramatically when Vidya gets conned by a maker of porn movies. The sequences thereafter, right till the finale, take the film to the crescendo again.
THE DIRTY PICTURE is embellished with several powerful sequences. Note the sequence when Vidya convinces/seduces Naseeruddin Shah, after he refuses to work with her. It's remarkable. Also, the first encounter with Emraan Hashmi. Noteworthy! Much later, the volatile sequence at the awards ceremony [the intermission point] is amongst the highpoints of the enterprise. The second hour has its share of super moments as well. The one featuring Vidya outside Anju Mahendroo's mansion is super. Vidya's interaction with the two women [individual sequences, both] -- with Naseer's wife first and Shakila, the dancer, next -- packs a solid punch. Vidya's interaction with the maker of porn movies is another shocking twist. The finale, of course, moves you no end.
Vishal-Shekhar deliver a good soundtrack. 'Ooo La La' is easily the song of the year [rendered brilliantly by Bappi Lahiri and Shreya Ghoshal], while 'Ishq Sufiyana' has long legs too. Another striking track is 'Honeymoon Ki Raat'. The choreography of these tracks [Pony Prakash Raj], especially 'Ooh La La', is straight out of the 80s. Bobby Singh's cinematography is magnificent.
Vidya's sizzling show and dare-bare act is sure to seize the viewers by complete astonishment. It's a novel casting because it is nothing like what Vidya has done before and is completely diverse to her image. But let's give Vidya the due: She delivers an astounding performance, pushing the envelope yet again. It wouldn't be erroneous to state that Vidya will walk away with the awards for the sterling act in this film. Besides, she carries off the hot attire without making her character look vulgar or tasteless. In fact, Milan and costume designer Niharika Bhasin Khan have ensured that the sexy-looking persona is aesthetically depicted. Vidya had put on oodles of weight to get the look of the character right and the flabby body only adds a lot of authenticity to the character she depicts on the big screen.
Naseeruddin Shah, who has been cast as an ageing South Indian superstar, sports wigs, dark glasses and painted moustache, reminding people of the stars of that era. He plays to the gallery, provoking claps, laughs and whistles, thus pulling off the role with élan. One has to credit Emraan Hashmi for willing to take on bold, aggressive characters. I actually wondered what prompted the actor to share screen space with Vidya, who has a meatier role and enacts the central character, but he walks his own path throughout the film. He plays the headstrong, hot-blooded, rebellious director to the hilt. Tusshar is wonderfully restrained in a significant role. His sequences with Naseer and Vidya, both are truly fantastic.
Anju Mahendru is first-rate, reminding people of a real-life lady journo, who was hugely popular for her writings in the 80s. Rajesh Sharma, the film-maker who 'discovers' Silk, is outstanding. An actor to watch out for! Shivani Tanskale, enacting the role of Naseeruddin Shah's wife, is perfect. Mangal Kenkre [as Ratnamma] and Imran Hasnee are adequate.
On the whole, THE DIRTY PICTURE banks heavily on shock-value, sex-value and most importantly, script-value. It's an exceptional portrayal of an ordinary person's rise from scratch to extraordinary heights and her subsequent fall. Without doubt, it is one of the most comprehensive scripts to come out of the Hindi film industry in 2011. A film with a universal theme and terrific mass connect, it has remarkable potential to set the cash registers ringing for one more valid reason -- entertainment, entertainment and entertainment.