"So tell me what kinda women I am" I asked my friend who boasted to have 'known' women on his back of his hands. "The kind of woman I would like to fall in love" came the answer from other end. OH God! I should have known what to expect before asking such stupid question in first place. "oh really! " I could utter only these words with a tinge of sarcasm in my tone. What I wanted to say" Man you know how to use these pick up line on women , but I ain't buying this".
But why am I asking this question in first place? Do I fear being called a 'dirty woman"(read slut or whore). I personally believe while society allows men to live in varied shades, women are stereotyped in black and white 'good woman ' or dirty woman- anything in between is frowned and unaccepted. Specially in India where tradition comes as noose around women's neck. The movie The Dirty Picture is one such movie that tries to break that mould and show a woman who tried to live her life outside the box.
Although the movie TDP claims that the main character in the movie called Reshma alias Silk is fictional character and has no resemblance any person in reality, fact is otherwise. It is fictional biopic of Silk Smitha. Silk Smitha born as Vijayalakshmi, in Andhra Pradesh, a controversial and sensational actress of 80s known as ' sex siren' said to have introduced a brand of erotic female sensuality on the screen ( read soft porn). Men loved her . Women hated her. But none could ignore her.
Movie, The Dirty Picture, traces the story of young ambitious girl from a poor family in village in south India has big dream of acting in movies. When she realizes her mother will not support her in achieving her dream she runs away from her home to come to big town to enter the film world. Plane looking but highly ambitious girl realizes she would not get an entry into film world unless she uses her buxom body. Realizing her acting talent cannot take her far, Reshma bears her body gyrating vigorously luring the male gaze and thus carving herself a space in the movie industry as the 'dirty woman'. Unabashed and unapologetic of her sexuality Reshma defines a new shade of feminine on silver screen to achieve fame, name and glory she always dreamt off. Fighting her way up single highhandedly to reach the top in a male dominated world she has to struggle with deceit, alcohol addition loneliness along with financial losses.
There nothing fictitious in story line as it echoes life of Silk Smitha in reality. Actor Vidya Balan has done a fabulous job in etching the character of Silk, and her personality lending all dignity to Smitha's character, making her more humane in spite of notoriety attached to her name. Script and the dialogues are crisp and tight which aids the pace of the film. For the first time the Dirty woman does not look that 'dirty' as it tries to show the shades woman,her vulnerability, her courage her weaknesses, her strength but above her ability to break rule by defining all norms of good woman.
Silk Smitha never got the due respect as an actress or a a woman of substance in her life time. She committed suicide at the age of 35 in 1996. Somewhere life reflects the life of Merylin Monroe. Although Silk was neither pretty or had sexy body like Merylin. Silk's sexuality was raw and rustic as compared to Merylin's sophistication and finesse. But both woman were fearlessly independent in man's world. They were proud to be woman and never feared to flaunt their sexuality. Character of Nayla, the editor of the film magazine, in the film somewhere represents every female in the audience . She hates Silk, but secretly admires her courage and independence.
Today most of the so called respectable female actors in Hindi cinema gyrate and seduce men with lewd gestures which is Smitha legacy. But no one is raising a finger at them as Dirty woman. Should we say the times are changing? The idea of women in India as 'Sati Savitri' or devotional woman is changing and so is the idea of dirty woman. If so then it is most welcome change.
Dirty Picture is a huge success at the box office in India. Every one is talking about Silk Smitha today. May be all those who grew up with idea of Smitha as a 'dirty woman' are re evaluating the idea of dirty today. The very acceptance of Smitha after 15 years of death suggests her life was not wasted after all.
For me Smitha represents archetypal character of Medusa, who was fiercely independent
unabashed of her ambition, sexuality and even revengeful when wronged. Unfortunately such women were feared and condemned by patriarchal systems as Dirty women.
But today, the Picture is no longer dirty Thanks to women like Smitha!
Silk Smitha on the left and Vidya Balan in the movie The Dirty Picture on right