'The Dirty Picture' managed to create ample pre-release buzz thanks to a voluptuous Vidya in the lead and a storyline inspired by Silk Smitha, who was known for her overt sexuality. Milan Luthria's film stands out not only for the bold theme but for Vidya's 'bomblaat' performance.
Raja Sen in his review writes about Vidya's performance:
Balan exultantly runs with it, making the character her own with remarkable commitment to the role. There is no vulgarity -- even when she writhes awkwardly and desperately around a whip -- simply because Balan visibly chooses to have a helluva time. She might not match the legend whose name she's borrowed in terms of sheer screen raunch, but outdoes her with an assault of unashamed oomph. Vanity is disregarded early on as we see the actress' paunch rolling over her waistline, even when she's at her hottest, and later, as her gut barrels out of shape and yet she continues to wear midriff-baring tops, we see just how defiantly unapologetic she is.
While Rajeev Masand agrees that the, "Gutsy Vidya Balan makes 'Dirty Picture' watchable". He also points out the flaws in the narrative:
All those lured in solely by the promise of skin-show are unlikely to complain. Yet, despite its masala scenes, heavy dialoguebaazi and liberal sexual innuendo, in the final analysis, this film is far from perfect. The Dirty Picture takes an unconventional idea and bakes it in a predictable oven.
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.
Some critics mention that this film is a "celebration of the eighties". Mayank Shekhar in his review writes:
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.
However, it's Vidya's performance that gets the accolades. Vidya's uninhibited performance is being considered the most "ballsiest role so far". Nikhat Kazmi says,
The Dirty Picture is essentially Vidya Balan's film, all the way. She gives a towering performance as the protagonist who remains unapologetic about her life till the very end. The high point of her act is the fact that despite portraying a sex bomb, her sexuality never ever gets vulgar and crude. Instead, there is an endearing quality to her attempts to shock and awe a staid society that thrives on the fake. Her tour de force act however doesn't throw the male leads into the shadows. They manage to hold their own in full measure, despite the relative meagerness of their roles. Also, it is the naughty dialogues (Rajat Arora) of the film which add immense flavour to the proceedings. It's a no-holds-barred screenplay which rightly refuses to treat sex as a four letter word. Kudos to Milan Luthria for handling such a controversial theme with such sensitivity and boldness.
You can read Kunal's review here.
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