Movie Review: THE DIRTY PICTURE (2011) – Satirical Homage Done Right

Published by Shah Shahid on

I was laughed at and ridiculed, when I mentioned last year that a Bollywood movie that parodies, in a serious way, the slutty and vulgar nature of the South Indian Film Industry in the 80’s, was my most awaited film of the year. Cut to a few months later, and THE DIRTY PICTURE is the most critically appreciated film of the year. Causing its lead Vidya Balan, to become the darling of the industry and win all major awards for Best Actress.

Rating: 5 Out Of 5 Stars


An amazingly crude and vulgar movie, THE DIRTY PICTURE is about the rise and fall of a girl that comes out of no where, and her willingness to shed her clothes on camera, makes an instant and legendary sensation of the Indian Film Industry.

Going to extreme lengths to play the lead of Silk, Vidya Balan destroys all other performances out there by an actress this year, with this mind-blowing role. It can be safely said, that Vidya Balan is one of the greatest Actresses in the history of Indian Cinema. I’m making this claim, when she’s still quite young in the industry, so her future contribution can only be imagined.

The way in which Balan so seamlessly and brashly plays this woman, who gets everything that she wants in her career, through the use of her body, is amazing. Keeping in mind, that Balan isn’t the typical sex symbol that usually comes to mind when thinking of a role such as this, is which makes this performance that much better. A curvaceous and voluptuous woman like Balan, playing such a crass and skin showy character is so out of character that it adds to the shock value so much more.

I remember audience reactions during the marketing of this movie, condemning Balan as going the ‘slutty’ route. People were disgusted and appalled that such a previously ‘decent’ actress she would degrade herself by doing such a role. They were completely oblivious to the fact that those types of reactions were exactly the intended purpose behind the role of Silk and THE DIRTY PICTURE.

ooh la la …

The story itself is handled with such outrageous subtlety that one hardly can ever tell when it’s going to go. Granted, it’s a ‘rise and fall’ movie, so there is a sort of ‘formula’ involved. But things don’t play out in a typical fashion. The editing is top notch, as a lot of scenes are song montages, and they fully capture the desperation, sadness and the decade in which the movie is shot.

Despite being Balan’s movie, the supporting cast is amazing in their ways. Emraan Hashmi playing an art cinema director with morals, refusing to pander to the audience with sex in his movies… is awesome. That role is also in a way a real life parody, given that it’s those kinds of movies that gave Hashmi his break in Bollywood. Tusshar Kapoor as the young inexperienced writer in the Industry is very smooth performance by him. Further adding to the shock value of Balan’s performance is legendary Naseeruddin Shah as an old veteran of the Industry, still playing lead hero opposite 20-something starlets. Again, yet another blatant Indian Film stereotype, which is still present today.

Milan Luthria is fast becoming one of my favorite directors. After another previously period film such as ONCE UPON A TIME IN MUMBAI, Luthria returns with THE DIRTY PICTURE in a huge way.

The satirical and self-deprecating way in which THE DIRTY PICTURE looks at the Indian Industry of old, as well as current, is refreshing and shocking. Bollywood is known for its self-repeating and formulaic ways. So when you have an actress like Vidya Balan willing to gain weight, purely for the character development of a role, and then expose it with hip gyrating movements for the world to criticize… is fuckin’ ballsy.

THE DIRTY PICTURE follows the typical formulaic story of a ‘rise and fall’ of a famous character. Nothing new. However, in a time where you have actors and actresses being successful, more for what they’re willing to do on screen, rather than actual quantitative talent… THE DIRTY PICTURE is VERY relevant, as it shows the early days of how willingness to embrace the taboo, qualified as a talent.

THE DIRTY PICTURE is monumental to Indian Cinema as it mocks, brings to light and dramatizes a time that truly happened in the history of Indian Cinema. Vidya Balan becomes one of the best actresses in Indian History with a role that the typical Indian actress of today would not have dared to touch.

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Shah Shahid

Entertainment Writer | Film & TV Critic | Bollywood Blogger | Host of Split Screen Podcast | Proud Geek Girl Dad


Movie Review: ISHQIYA (2010) : Blank Page Beatdown · October 8, 2013 at 11:46 AM

[…] the wife and sole woman in the movie, is amazing and surprising. ISHQIYA was released years before THE DIRTY PICTURE and I didn’t realize how ballsy her performance was in this. She plays a manipulatively […]

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