Reviewing the Reviews: The Dirty Picture

05 Dec,2011


By Deepa Gahlot


The Dirty Picture


Key Cast: Vidya Balan, Naseeruddin Shah, Emraan Hashmi


Directed By: Milan Luthria


Written By: Rajat Arora


Produced By: Ekta Kapoor, Shobha Kapoor


The promotions of Milan Luthria’s The Dirty Picture were such that nobody had any doubts about its content-for once the audiences get what they expect-an uninhibited Vidya Balan in a sex-on-toast film loosely based on the life of Silk Smitha, who blazed a trail as a voluptuous siren and then, shockingly, committed suicide.


The film got 2 ½ to 4 star ratings and from all accounts a smashing opening. Which proves once again that sex sells and Ekta Kapoor knows that. If sleaze comes with a big banner attached, it ceases to be ‘dirty’. Everyone is unanimous in praise of Vidya Balan, however, and all awards next year will go to her-she has left the competition far behind.


Shubhra Gupta of the Indian Express was one of those who was left underwhelmed by the film and gave it 2 ½ stars. “What ‘The Dirty Picture’ does is to place Vidya Balan and her heaving bosom, complete with the dirtier, orgiastic ‘ha-aaa’ sound, so much a fixture of so many oomphy ’80s tracks, at the centre of the narrative. Which is fine, and we are quite taken in by the sight for a while. But then we start looking for something more, and find it, only towards the end, only very fleetingly.”


Mumbai Mirror’s Karan Anshuman is equally unimpressed: More Dirty Less Picture is the title and a 2 ½ star rating. “It just doesn’t quite come together. What gets plated is an entre overdone on the outside, and not entirely cooked from the inside. Director Milan Luthria falters. He is just in such a tearing hurry to tell us the dizzying story of the rise and fall of Silk and the hot-and-cold behaviour of her fans, detractors, and co-stars – inconsistent one-liner upon one-liner, the flashback in negative image (why?), just the lack of any buildup or lingering – that he doesn’t take a breath for the audience to appreciate and unravel Silk’s mind until much later. Because the film focuses so much on dressed-up cliches of sleaze in tinseltown and Balan’s carefully constructed look, there is precious little else to take in. Fewer incidents focusing to get the viewer involved would work better than too many repetitive ones packed in for the sake of impact.”


Sukanya Varma of gives it 3 stars, but writes, “The Dirty Picture, despite the comprehensive objectivity implied through its title, is not a full-fledged biopic. Instead of painting a layered portrait of Silk, it draws an outline of an unapologetic resident of a flesh-obsessed film industry responsible for her rise and ruin. But Vidya lends her so much transparency, aplomb and sauciness, the outcome is far more awe-inspiring than it deserves to be.”


Commenting on the actors, the usually acerbic Kunal Guha of, gives it 3 and writes, “Vidya is scrumptious as the imperfect and unrestrained Silk, while Naseer is convincing as a superstar out to play shepherd to every newcomer. Tusshar may have dropped his surname for the credits but that hardly undermines the fact that he’s been cast in his home production, again. Emraan’s character gives itself more importance than you or anyone else does. Luckily, his presence is limited and tolerable.”


From Chennai, Silk Smitha’s playground, Sudhish Kamath of The Hindu writes, “The makers (Milan Luthria and writer Rajat Arora) seem a little too afraid to get into the darker aspects of the tragic life of a star like Silk and most of the sadness is limited to showing the dark circles under her eyes. Even when her life is spiralling down, the film wants to go away from the tragedy and show you a love song. Clearly, they don’t want to depress you because depressing films don’t do well at the box office. However, The Dirty Picture makes up for lack of depth with spirit and attitude.”


Rajeev Masand also gives it 3 for Vidya. “What it suffers most from, unfortunately, is lazy writing. With a plot straight out of a Madhur Bhandarkar film, and a screenplay that follows a familiar graph, The Dirty Picture offers a superficial, simplistic view of the seamy, exploitative side of the 80s film business. There is little attempt to treat this material with sensitivity and depth. No sir, this film unfolds as a series of provocative scenes strung together on the strength of their sexually loaded dialogues.”


Mayank Shekhar also comes up with a reluctant 3. “The film however, even when not mimicking its subject, somewhat retains its ’80s feel: excessive dialoguebaazi, often loaded with double entendres, some loud scenes with actors always in a state of emergency, and the ‘serial kisser’ (Emraan Hashmi) who must land a Sufi song, and a girl’s lips to satisfy his core audiences. Sometimes we remain suspended too much in disbelief. It starts to match the film within the film! This irony is oddly intriguing. It won’t be lost on anyone.”

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