Thursday, December 1, 2011

The After Hrs review: The Dirty Picture

Friday, Dec 2, 2011

When you go to see a film like this, you expect plenty of sleaze. It's after all, inspired by the life of an actress who gave sleaze in south Indian cinema a completely new meaning.She started a trend that still continues today. The sleaze in this film is wrapped in a packet of seriousness that you tend to forget about it. It's something like wrapping a condom in a beautiful hand-made, well-crafted box… suddenly the box becomes more important than what it contains. The trials and tribulations that Vidya Balan's character goes through suddenly becomes the focal point of the film than Vidya's curves. This film is serious sleaze. It focusses on the underbelly of sleaze.

Before going into the details film, here's something that you should know right at the very outset. For years together, Vidya Balan has been battling volleys of criticism about her weight.

There are a section of her critics, who say that she prefers sticking to her ethnic wear because she doesn't look as good in a western dress. There are some who say Vidya Balan's love handles shouldn't be a body trend that might be picked up by other actresses. Also, none of Vidya Balan's fiercest fans knew what her cleavages looked like. Long back, Vidya Balan did a film called Kismat Konnection after which she reportedly broke up with Shahid Kapoor. In that film too, she was criticized for not being able to carry off her knee-length black skirts. Vidya never dared to show even a bit of her skin again, forget about the cleavage.

The script of this film required her to blatantly showcase what she has been criticised for–her love handles, her legs and of course, all her cleavage. Vidya Balan, being a top-line heroine, couldn't have risked more. All her risks seem to have paid off with this film.

The storyline is just what you had expected -- the film is about a girl who runs away from her village a day before her marriage to chase her dreams. She struggles without food for a big-screen break, gets rejected everywhere, gets exploited, trudges to the top before hurtling down to the bottom of the pit with even greater force. In the inside, it is just about an entertaining film that will hold you to your seat, especially in the first half. The film seems like a drag in certain portions of the second half.

Vidya Balan gives a performance of a lifetime in this film. She has completely identified with the character and never looks uncomfortable even when she was to deliver the toughest of scenes like faking an orgasm or to make love to a whip (yes, there is such a thing too!). She is the hero of the film and carries the film forward. It is but obvious that she has rehearsed for her scenes too many times because she says her lines effortlessly and makes her character too real for comfort. When she takes the sleaze route, one tends to watch her more than her curves. She manages to bring out the fact that even for a 'vamp', it's not her curves but guts make her what she is.

Naseeruddin Shah again matches every step with Balan and stands up to her as an actor. Playing the larger-than-life south Indian hero has never looked so easier before. But somehow even a good performance like this seems like a support to the main character. Vidya's character is too strong for Naseer to occupy your mind-space.

Next in line, are the fantastic dialogues. They are so important that they actually are playing a supporting hero's role in the film. They keep you hooked onto the film. It's the witty, timely dialogues that actually keep the ball rolling. If nothing impresses you, then the dialogues surely will.

Lastly, we come to Emraan Hashmi. Naseer plays the second lead, so what is Emraan doing? You tend to ask yourself the same question when suddenly you find Emraan and Vidya Balan breaking into run-in-your-favourite-designer-clothes routine with a non-descript song playing in the background. This is the point when the pace of the film slackens and you ask yourself, 'what is the song doing here?'

After the song ends (this is much after the interval) the film seems to be taken over by some new director who seems hell-bent on giving some footage to Emraan Hashmi as he goes on with his soliloquy and doing things that he shouldn't be doing. The whole episode of Emraan Hashmi falling in love with Vidya Balan, who hitherto was his greatest enemy, seems so out of place that you actually start feeling that this is the part the director made up himself to separate it from the facts.

The film ends exactly the way you thought even though it seems that the filmmakers tried to make it look like an abrupt ending.

In the end, it's a film that you should be watching this weekend. Because it entertains you till the end.

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