So,my end semester examinations got over today.After a daunting 10 days of really bad papers which make you question your faculties every time you put pen to paper,the end,was just a respite,if not a reason to rejoice.So like most exam-unfriendly-student I decided to watch a movie to get my head back into the world again.
The Dirty Picture had been creating quite a buzz for sometime now.And why not? A controversial character,a lot of skin and Vidya Balan and Naseeruddin Shah who created magic with Ishqiya.And if I were to believe the TOI review,(which I managed to read before going to take my exam),called it a "seminal work."Since Tamil is the flavour of the season,and given that it was playing at a theatre very close to my campus(Yes,I am lazy),we decided to go and be wowed for ourselves.
So well,the movie starts."Nakka mukka nakka mukka." The song gives me the splits!I foresee a fun couple of hours.Story unfolds.Small town girl.Dreams big.Runs away day before her wedding night.Comes to big city.Struggles to get into the movies.Rejected time and time again.Until she gets a break.
So she heaves her more than ample bosoms,bites her lips,rolls her tongues for the camera,dances uninhibitedly while her belly trembles like jelly in gaudy attires that leave little to the imagination.Reality,indeed.The South Indian film industry does have a fetish for all of the above.And why not?The audience demands it.Film is but a demand-supply phenomenon down south in spite of all its tall claims about being true to tradition,being stiflingly conservative and puritans.So while men in crisp white shirts and dhotis with the quintessential "tilak" affirming his piety lead a respectable life with his wife in a kanjivaram with a gajra in her well oiled hair,in the other world, he is the one who lusts over the likes of Silk Smitha and keeps his sexual desires satisfied.So society is unfair at judging something it creates and sustains by demand.This is a point Smitha makes in the movie : the hypocrisy of the "sharif" class and a point I had hoped would have been pursued in the movie along with the melancholia of her hapless existence that ultimately drove her to suicide.
But what it became was a tedious affair of cleavages,thunder thighs,Smitha gyrating,drinking,smoking,and sleeping around with men after men after men.I have nothing against any of these.I did not walk into the movie expecting the life of a nun and I'm no prude either.But then, if I wanted to see all of the above,I could have watched a Silk Smitha movie.Why a story on her life?Rather,why arrogate a story of her life?I understand the content of her work is important.But instead of Naseeruddin Shah poaching an egg on Smitha's belly(I will not be able to have a poached egg for long!),a little more light on her inner tribulations,her vulnerability,her helplessness,her misfortunes,her flaws,her follies would have given a better,if not cleaner picture.Forced innuendos galore,some shabby dialog,and cliches after,I reached a point when I wanted the movie to just end.Also with a crowd of hot blooded,horny men of Delhi, shouting disgusting remarks,whistling at every cleavage show,and especially the middle-aged men beside us moaning and well,the rest I leave to your imagination,it was a nightmare.
Naseeruddin Shah is good.Not great.Emraan Hashmi is tolerable surprisingly.But that is all.And Tushar Kapoor is disgusting as always.For the woman of the hour : Vidya Balan.Like the movie or not,she deserves an applause for her courage.To be so bereft of inhibition in a body which is no longer considered pretty in the industry(at least in places other than the South),to be bold and vulnerable,raunchy and wretched,she handles it commendably.
But Silk Smitha had a story behind the glitz and meretricious nature of her existence.She was more than a catalyst under the loins.The film sets out to do that but somehow the message gets lost in between and what we are stuck with is what a slightly modern version of Silk Smitha would have been like.Her affairs,the betrayals are treated as almost customary .While Naseeruddin's portrayal is still believable,Tushar Kapoor should just go "Gayab".His acting abilities were never great,nor were his looks.And while he comes across as a pathetic,disgusting loser as the role demands,it is irritating, for you do not feel like he has to work very hard in doing that.Emraan gets his kiss and is not too cocky,so I could bear with him.But while the oomph quotient was higher than necessary for the movie,the emotional content was measly.At the end,in spite of her tragic death,somewhere along the line,the movie fails to generate the empathy it should have.Sympathy maybe,but I doubt whether that should have been the response the director should have been looking for given Smitha herself was unabashed about her work and the last thing she wanted was pity.
The Dirty Picture might turn out to be a blockbuster.Given by my experience today,men of all ages would flock to see it.No harm in that.All Luthra manages to accomplish is making a film that justifies its title.Literally.But I feel it is dishonest to take someone's story to tell,when you narrate one part and underplay the most important part of it.Sex sells.Indeed.If you want a story with sex,make your own.Do not mask it under a tragedy.Both Silk Smitha and the audience,(leaving out the horny men who were there for a completely different reason),deserve better.