The Dirty Picture (2011)

At the end of it, I felt that The Dirty Picture belongs in the trash.

And if you haven’t seen the film and are looking forward to see it because it is based on the life and times of Silk Smitha, don’t. It is not. The movie begins with a disclaimer that it is a work of fiction.

Rumour and chatter has it that it is indeed (loosely?) based on the life and times of Silk Smitha. In an interview on TV, the writer says, that Ekta Kapoor wanted to make a movie about the underbelly of the film industry in the 80s.

To my mind it is a cheap, crowd-pulling, movie jammed with “sexy” scenes. A few scenes to that effect, would have given the audience an idea of the lead character’s profession, but no – the “sexy” scenes had to continue right to a few moments before the end of the film. The camerawork reinforces this with repeated close-up cleavage shots. Perhaps, close-ups of the actress’ face, would have helped us see some emotion? It is also not a movie about the underbelly of the film industry in the 80s. If it was supposed to be the ‘exposure’ of the underbelly, then for sure, the movie has lost its focus. If it was indeed about the underbelly, the lead character, definitely was the primary stomach content. Ekta Kapoor had an in-house subject matter expert, who worked in enough films in the south. Apparently, they did not consult him. It is not about the lead character, because we never get an insight into that character. Most dialogues are frivolous and misplaced. If you had to glean personality from the dialogues, all you could be sure was that she is a wordsmith. The dialogues are clever, in some instances, but that is all they are. What little insight you are provided is via Emraan Hashmi’s bad diction voiceover.

The performances are slightly above average, at best. Vidya Balan plays her strength: good diction, clarity, and delivery – the dialogues were in her favour. The rest of the film, however, doesn’t provide her a good support. She still does well. Naseer-saab probably underplayed – but it worked against him. The sharp Hindi dialogues did not work with the distinct south-Indian context of the movie – at all. For anyone. It feels dubbed, at most places. Anju Mahendru, for some reason reminded me of the Neeta’s Natter “logo” from Stardust. Small role, but good job. I’ll save your time and not talk about the performances by the others.

The music is a big disappointment – music in the movies of the 80s, whatever their character and content, was memorable. Think Himmatwala (1983)

The art direction was a bit mixed up, I feel. The costumes seemed to be in a moral dilemma to belong to the current decade, while being representative of the eighties. If I am not mistaken, there’s a fleeting shot of a packet of KS condoms – which were definitely not around in the 80s. But then, in all fairness, if they had shown Nirodh, the younger generation would not have understood the context of that scene. And, I believe, it was free then.

The worst part of it all is how Balaji Films has, unofficially, used Silk Smitha’s name to promote the film.

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