Film Review: The Dirty Picture

Directed by: Milan Luthria

Starring: Vidya Balan, Naseeruddin Shah, Emraan Hashmi, Tusshar Kapoor

All pictures courtesy of: http://www.glamsham.com

Loving the colour scheme!

There is nothing worse than missing the must-see film of the moment but that is exactly what happened to me with The Dirty Picture (TDP). Thanks to sadistic scheduling and distribution quibbles at my local cinema, the only place to see TDP was all the way out in the suburbs at odd times, which coupled with erratic transport schedule and real-life commitments conspired to keep me  from seeing TDP at the time of release. To add insult to injury, my local cinema kept scheduling shows for Desi Boyz (which I decided not to watch on principle; the principle being Desi Boyz was hogging the screen meant for TDP). Still, fast forward two months and I was finally able to get my hands on TDP  through legal means.

Was it worth the wait? I have to say factoring in hype and expectation, the TDP fared a lot better than I thought it would. Unfortunately, TDP suffers from the curse of two halves with a strong first half and weak post interval half. This is a real shame as the first half sets up an exciting premise but then the second half is besieged by an identity crisis as we get a mixture of social commentary, a biopic and a love story clumsily lumped together on a fast track to cliche-ville.

Flower power!

My biggest gripe was the apologetic nature of the second half – in the first half, Silk/Reshma is bold and brazen but in the second half, her character seems to lose any support from the script and the inevitable drinking/smoking montages are shown to signify our heroine has fallen in everyone’s estimation including her own. I felt if the story was going to take that route (which I didn’t agree with), it could have been executed with far more nuance and discipline than what we were given and furthermore, given more time to show how the character made that journey from loving herself to self-loathing.

Having said that, TDP does succeed in entertaining and also manages to make some interesting points such as the male dominated film industry which allows men to do as they please. We also get a few in-jokes that are close to the bone;  Surya’s former co-star is cast as his mother despite being younger than him whilst the money grabbing producer remarks heroines have a five year shelf life similar to political leaders, where they lead for five years and then are relegated to supporting roles, despite their previous success – slightly cliched jokes but they do have a shred of uncomfortable truth in them too. I also liked the look of the film, with the retro 80’s feel captured well and some very interesting lighting set ups (for the geeks amongst us!)

Ooh la la!

Performance wise, Naseeruddin Shah is suitably evil and ego-centric as Surya, the superstar actor who uses Silk and breaks her heart with a cold calculating ruthlessness. I didn’t think too much of Tusshar who seems to always play the over eager simpleton and was glad his role was kept to a minimum. I’m not a fan of Emraan Hashmi either but have to say I liked his performance here as it was more restrained and controlled than usual. I would have given him a bonus point for not removing his shirt but he loses that by showing us his legs instead (put it away man!)

Without a shred of doubt and the sole reason for watching TDP is Vidya Balan’s superb performance which is bold, uninhibited and quite simply enchanting. Right from the first frame to the last, Vidya makes Reshma/Silk come to life, playing her with sympathy and dignity as well as handling the more frisky scenes with class and commitment. It is a real shame that the story and direction let the character down but such is Vidya’s performance that she rises above the flaws of the film and gives a powerhouse performance that shows an actress of substance and variety. Vidya reminded me of a younger Rekha who would reinvent herself with each performance and in my opinion, Vidya is the real top heroine of the moment as none of her contemporaries come close to this level at the present time.

Take a bow Vidya!

TDP is certainly worth watching though prudes amongst the audience may find a little too much to take. In a case of verisimilitude (one of my favourite words!) Vidya Balan’s performance reminded me of Michael Fassbender in Shame in that both give a provocative and nuanced performance that cannot be ignored and power above any shortcomings that would have stopped lesser talents in their tracks. Vidya is definitely forging her own path and more power to her for doing so – let’s hope this talented actress continues to receive her dues from Hindi cinema as it has been a long time coming…

WATCH THE DIRTY PICTURE ONLINE:  If you missed seeing The Dirty Picture in cinemas, you can now catch up online exclusively at http://www.mela.com, a multi-platform entertainment service that provides global consumers one of the largest collections of premium South Asian movies, music videos and TV content. Bringing a high quality experience to their viewers, not only can you see The Dirty Picture in high definition but also with English subtitles.

To find out more, visit http://www.mela.com or check out the official Mela promo below – happy viewing!

Official Mela Promo of The Dirty Picture

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