The Dirty Picture turns 10: A decade on, 5 ways in which the Vidya Balan starrer blew people away
Vidya Balan starrer The Dirty Picture has turned a decade old today. Director Milan Luthria’s film released 10 years ago, on December 2nd, 2011. The film has been a defining moment in Balan’s career, unleashing a whole other dimension of her charming talent. Apart from Vidya, the film featured Naseeruddin Shah, Emraan Hashmi, and Tusshar Kapoor in pivotal roles. The Dirty Picture is inspired by the life of Vijayalakshmi Vadlapatla, popularly known by her stage name, Silk Smitha – an actress and dancing star in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, and Hindi films of the 1980s. The film was bankrolled by Ekta Kapoor and Shobhaa Kapoor.
The Dirty Picture has left an imprint on people’s hearts in more than one way. While Vidya Balan wooed viewers with her spectacular act as Silk, there are several other aspects in the film that blew audiences’ minds.
As The Dirty Picture turns 10, let’s have a look at 5 such factors.
1. Vidya Balan’s transformation
As I scrolled through Instagram as a part of my research for this article, I came across the comment, “This film changed the course of my life forever. Thank you silk for teaching me how to love myself @vidyabalan” – such was the impact of Balan’s performance. It has become common practice for actors to make their bodies go through drastic physical changes in order to get into the characters of their films. But this was still not ‘common’ in 2011 when The Dirty Picture came out. In an ideal world, putting on weight wouldn’t be that big a deal, but sadly, for the reality that we live in, it is. Vidya put on several kilos for her role and she did so sans any inhibitions. In a culture so unhealthily obsessed with flat tummies, here was a top actress embracing her curves on the silver screens. It was certainly a much-needed and fresh change.
2. A harsh commentary on showbiz
Films that showcase the underbelly of the entertainment industry should be a separate genre itself, because, well, who doesn’t like them? In a twisted and clever way, The Dirty Picture offers a critique of the film industry, and the audience as well. Take, for instance, the scene where a visibly young actress is seen playing the role of Suryakanth’s (Naseeruddin Shah) mother, while the latter, who is well into his fifties, is seen playing a graduate.
This scene precisely unveils the entertainment industry’s underlying (or apparent) ageism towards female actors. Suryakanth even has a dialogue for this. He says, “Heroine ki zindagi is like elected government. 5 saal tak party, uske baad support – kabhi left, kabhi right, kabhi centre.”
3. ‘Entertainment, Entertainment, Entertainment’
“Filmein sirf teen cheejon se chalti hain: Entertainment, entertainment, entertainment. Aur main entertainment hoon,” says Reshma/Silk (Vidya Balan). It’s been 10 years and this dialogue remains popular and loved, and will continue to be so for many coming years. Apart from this, the film had many other striking lines by writer Rajat Aroraa, that are generously sprinkled throughout the film. Take, for instance, the scene in the latter half of the film, where Abraham (Emraan Hashmi) asks a heartbroken and defeated Silk, “Kitne logon ne tumhe touch kiya hain?” She replies, “Touch toh bahuton ne kiya hain, par chuaa kisine nahi,” which perfectly captures the tragedy of being a ‘sex symbol’ on the big screen – desired by many, loved by none.
4. The empowerment in owning one’s sexuality
Speaking of being a ‘sex symbol’, The Dirty Picture is one of the very first mainstream Hindi films that successfully managed to portray sultriness without stripping away dignity. In a way, it’s a fitting tribute to Silk Smitha and the many other dancing stars like her, who boldly embraced their sexuality, despite society not perceiving them as deserving of dignity. Vidya Balan’s Silk tells us that dignity is an inherent right, not ‘deserved’. There are plenty of scenes when Reshma was sexualized in the film, but each time, she owned it with rare confidence.
5. Male gaze, patriarchy, sexism, & all that shiz
The Dirty Picture is ‘dirty’ only because it’s a mirror to society and it reflects the truth. As Sadat Haasan Manto wrote, “If you find my stories dirty, the society you are living in is dirty.” Milan Luthria’s film offers more than just a glimpse into the male gaze, and sexism, in the past and current society alike. The way the audiences crowd theaters to ogle at Silk’s cleavage, or the way critics call her cheap while hailing Suryakanth’s below-average performance, is evidence of this. Naila, who is a film critic in the film, rightly gives words to this unfortunate truth of society when she tells Suryakanth, “Aadmiyon ko sadhu banana ke liye, ladkiyon ko shaitaan banana hi padta hain.”