The fact that the movie was a thinly-veiled bio of the southern sex-bomb of the 1980s Silk Smitha added solid, lip-smacking spice.
What do you say about a producer whose mission statement relates to single-mindedly tilting at windmills, challenging the status-quo and a steely determination to constantly break new ground to scale new heights? What do you say of a director ready to adventurously blend titillating sensationalism – Rajat Arora’s dialogues are really something! – with chilling realism to unspool primal truths about the other side of midnight in glam n’ glitzy showbiz? Finally, what do you say about a pure, innocent and virginal Parineeta morphing into a brazen [silky?] siren, flamboyantly flashing, presenting, offering, trading her ooh-la-la sexuality and yet pining for the ‘real’ thing, oblivious to the terrible fate that awaits her in the cruel, heartless and insensitive world she inhabits? The Dirty Picture could leave you speechless!
On the surface, The Dirty Picture is a rags-to-riches-to-rags story of a poor girl fleeing her village to strike it rich in the big city. However — as is the ritual in today’s B-town — the full-on, manic, marketing and promotion drive, across all available media avenues, clearly and titillatingly positioned The Dirty Picture as … well … a dirty picture, complete with sleazy skin-shows, lots of oomph and bust-heaving masala. Also — for the curiosity market — the fact that the movie was a thinly-veiled bio of the southern sex-bomb of the 1980s Silk Smitha added solid, lip-smacking spice …
Did The Dirty Picture finally deliver on its promise? Absolutely — and more! The producer and director are to be lauded for their decision to make a heroine-oriented film at a time when big-budget hero-centric films are the order of the day. Director Milan Luthra’s handling of the narrative is done with sensibility, keeping the flavor of the theme intact while not ignoring the demands of the box office. Despite some minor glitches, Dirty Picture is a bold film, a let-it-all-hangout sock, seldom seen or presented in Bollywood. It needs courage, confidence and the ability to walk the talk, put your money where your mouth is and go the distance … and the team of The Dirty Picture have done that in full measure.
All the performances — Naseerudin Shah, Emran Hashmi and Tushar Kapoor — despite responding adequately to the demands of their character are, at best, props to the belle of the ball — Vidya Balan! It’s extraordinarily difficult and challenging to go against your values, upbringing and sensibilities on the one hand, and image on the other, to unleash such a blatantly brazen, uninhibited, bare-all — physically and emotionally — performance for a voyeuristic public to drool over, It takes a very high degree of desire, motivation and self-belief as an actor to push that dangerous envelope into a terrain angels fear to tread. Vidya Balan has clearly come of age, converting a challenge into an opportunity to storm-centre a bravura, cataclysmic, award-winning performance in a film in which she is both the body and the soul.
The results, astounding as it may seem, are there for all to see. The movie zoomed past the $10 million mark in its very first week exploding the myth that strong, woman-centric movies are a total no-no in B-town. Trade Analyst Amod Mehra heaps praise on this ground-breaking effort: “It is the biggest opening ever for a woman-oriented film in the history of Indian cinema! Besides, it’s a smash both at the plexes and single screen, men and women, big cities and smaller metros! Yeh to kamaal hi ho gaya!”
The lady who showcased this film single-handedly, adds, beaming big time: “I guess it has to do with the fact that it challenges the stereotype programmed in people’s mind about woman-centric films: Preachy, grim, boring. This film represents new-age spin which is about engagement and entertainment.”
The fact that it raced past the big budget, male-driven Desi Boyz (Akshay Kumar-John Abraham) and continues to rock at the box office, has not been lost on the industry.
Vishal Anand, head honcho of Fun Cinema, says: “Vidya has done something a lot of male stars couldn’t: catapult a bold subject, single-handedly, to a Rs. 50 crore orbit. Amazing!”