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    Posted on 01 December 2011

    Entertainment, entertainment, entertainment… and a raw nerve

    Ekta Kapoor is the real heroine of The Dirty Picture, and psychedelic Hindi cinema of the 80s is the real star, says Karuna John

    Review: The Dirty Picture

    A poster of The Dirty Picture

    Cleavage so intense that it heaves on its own. This is what The Dirty Picture’s teasers featuring a voluptuous Vidya Balan in a shiny pink apsara outfit would want you to believe. A teaser is meant to tease you into walking into the theatre. We suggest you bite the bait and walk in. It is the strong story, which will make you want to sit right through the film.

    The Dirty Picture is also not a biopic in the true sense that intellectual analysis would want us to believe. The marketing genius Ekta Kapoor, and her banner Balaji Motion Pictures, has paid a rich homage to the kitschy genre that the 80s cinema birthed. The 80s also gave us the jumping jack moves of Ekta’s father Jitendra atop giant earthenware pots and amidst citrus fruit rolling down a slope. The daughter has observed closely as has the film’s director Milan Luthria. The 80s vintage is on full show in The Dirty Picture, for some of a certain age it’s a nostalgia trip, for the younger audiences it's a quick tutorial in the cinema of the time.

    Virginal villager Reshma (Balan) dreams of big shiny, filmy sequences. The dreams are so big that she has no option but burst out of her obscure village existence into big bad Madras. The city proves to be a kind-hearted pimp who teaches Reshma the ropes and tricks as she grabs at every flicker of opportunity. Nothing is too small to try, no challenge too big.

    Somewhere along the way, Reshma frees herself from the pavadai-dhavani (half-saree) cocoon and turns into Silk who wears pink nylex apsara style outfits with ease. She packs oomph and attitude in a choli a size too small. A size perfect for Silk’s loyal fans, who keep rhythm with her gyrations. Three cheers to a healthy body image. Three cheers to bad girls.

    Silk learns the survival skills essential for a good performance on screen and off volunteering to be ‘fine-tuned’ on the casting couch, ruled by matinee idol Surya (Naseeruddin Shah, who is either naturally irritating or just too good an actor). The ageing superstar Surya with the title ‘Smashing’ before his name is Silk’s childhood crush and adulthood passport that helps launch her career.

    Survivors of the time may or may not admit it, but many would recognise themselves on screen here. Abraham (Emraan Hashmi) plays a black-shirt wearing brooding director who does not want to be a pimp selling sex in his movies. Emraan does not do angst well. Tushaar Kapoor (who plays Surya’s younger write-brother Ramakant), however, does whiney-wimpy very well. Silk has no such pretences and goes on to upstage both.

    The technical team also does well in terms of details, the over-the-top interiors of star houses, the paparazzi and their magazine covers. The original postbox red Maruti 800 is almost a character in itself. Cheesy lines like “filmein sirf teen wajaon se chalti hain… Entertainment, entertainment, entertainment… aur mein entertainment hoon” catch on at times, however, the rest of the dialogue, not so much. Too many one-liners for too many characters. Thankfully, Vishal-Shekhar’s music and Bappi Lahiri’s vintage voice make up for that.

    Don’t let that stop you, a bit of cringe is a part of paisa vasool. Those who buy a ticket for skin show and Silk’s sensuality oozing out of costumes will get their money’s worth in the first half of the film. Balan, who mastered the come-hither look and languid dialogue delivery with husky tempering in Ishqiya, uses that to full advantage in The Dirty Picture. Those who will go see this movie for the “story” of a star’s tragic life, will find something post interval. The dirty secret does not want to feel dirty anymore. Heartbreak. Angst. And an attempt at sweet revenge take over Silk’s life and its tag of “being entertainment, entertainment, entertainment”. She has a heart, she has a brain and circumstances have stirred up a crazy conflict between the two.

    However, Silk does not have the inner strength, and the weaklings she has for lovers do not help matters. Surya, his younger brother Ramakant and even Abraham, they all fail her eventually. Silk is left to take care of herself, like she did in the beginning. Back to square one. But this time she decides to call a pack up. A mirror to the 80s film industry. Across the language divide.

    Karuna John is Associate Editor, Tehelka.com.
    [email protected]

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    Posted on 01 December 2011



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