Apr 23, 2012

Review: The Dirty Picture [113/365]

Marilyn Monroe once famously said: “Hollywood is a place where they'll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul. I know, because I turned down the first offer often enough and held out for the fifty cents.” 

source: wallpapers99.com
Vijayalakshmi, simply known as Silk, was South India's answer to Marilyn Monroe.

I remember how movies that had Silk would be houseful in many towns and cities in Kerala. A phenomenon unlike anything they had in Indian cinema, many of her movies in Malayalam achieved cult status and were almost mainstream.
An incredibly talented actress who could not escape being typecast, Silk fell into the trap of a cruel industry that spares none. Her rise to fame was as meteoric as her decline to doom. 18 years after she first shimmied and seduced her way into the hearts of millions, she was found dead in her apartment in the southern Indian city of Chennai (formerly Madras).

Her legacy still lives on in the hearts and memories of the millions of South Indians, she continues to be a legend that defies logic. She exuded unbridled sex and inhibited seduction. So when the current queen of melodrama decides to make money out of it, that's something that every South Indian would want to watch.

Ekta Kapoor, whose earlier credits include Ragini MMS is known across India for her sitcoms that revived a flagging TV industry. And if you've seen Ragini MMS, you almost know what you can expect.
Vidya Balan, an incredibly talented actress, would at first sight been the wrong person to cast. But again, looking at her eclectic repertoire of movies, is perhaps one of the only two or three versatile actors in a male dominated movie industry.
The rest of the cast is inconsequential. The Dirty Picture is one of those female oriented movies where male roles are unsubstantial.

I got to watch the movie over the past weekend. Not on TV, thanks to the wonderful way the Indian censor board works, but on DVD.
As the movie starts, you see how Reshma (Vidya B) runs away from her home to Madras, in search of fame and fortune. Something that millions in India can relate to. The first thing you notice is perhaps also its most redeeming essence - Vidya Balan's extremely gutsy portrayal of a lady who knows what her strengths are and can exploit them. You see how determined yet strong willed she is as she refuses to give up on her dream to be a movie star. A determination that defies gravity and orbits the young and unabashed dancer to a super-stardom that begins to disorient her. We begin to witness the downward spiral of a helpless star who got stuck.
In an autobiographical movie like this, you won't have to guess how the movie ends.

While The Dirty Picture is not as steamy as Ekta would have you believe, you won't be disappointed either. The guy who owns the DVD library I rented this movie from was embarrassed and blushing when he handed me the DVD.
Vidya Balan delivers a performance that is exquisite, measured and very different from any of her previous movies.
Very into the character, yet without any of the sleaze that would make us cringe.

Would I recommend you watch The Dirty Picture?
Yes, I would.
One, for the performance of it's star- Vidya Balan as Reshma (Silk)
Two, for the reminder that behind all the glitz and glam is a person which unbridled passion and sometimes, doom
Three, for a rare glimpse into how Silk carved an industry all by herself, and the people who fed off her.

My Rating: 8

What does the ratings mean?
0-4  : Not worth your presence in the same zip code as the TV/Theater.
5-7  : Err... the movie is pretty, but it's definitely missing something. A storyline, that is.
8-10: 'Drop-the-dishes, stop-the-sex, jaw-dropping, that-is-incredible' 2 hours of movie experience
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