The combo of Ekta Kapoor’s Balaji Motion Pictures and director Milan Luthria is back after the super-successful Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai to direct yet another bold, provocative biopic-drama based on silkier-than-thou Andhra-based Vijayalaxmi, who rose to unprecedented fame as “Silk” Smitha – the hottest South sensation of the 1980s. And honestly, there a lot of factors that build up expectations like never before such as Ekta Kapoor’s impressive track record as producer, Milan Luthria’s superb directing prowess and of course Vidya Balan. Her name spells out quality cinema more often than not and the versatility in her last few films (from a mother in Paa to a raw femme-fatale in Ishqiya to a torn sister in No One Killed Jessica) shows that expectations have just shot all the way up.
Considering the above three factors that are directly proportional to the expectations of the film, this film rests on a thin, delicate line. Does it fulfill expectations whilst also sticking to the story and impressing and entertaining the viewer? Can Vidya go all out to portray “Silk”? Are the makers faithful enough to the true-to-life events? Read on to know more.
Reshma (played by Balan) is a small-town girl with dreamy eyes of reaching the top of the industry. A night before her wedding, she runs off to Madras to become a star. The story traces the life, imminent success and transformation of Reshma to “Silk”, her interaction with the different types of men in her life, and her imminent exploitation and downfall.
Now this movie could have gone either way – it could have been a deplorable, traumatic, artsy movie with every scene speaking realism (more like a docudrama) or it could have gone the all-out way like Dabangg (because of the “Silk” addition), but fortunately, this is where director Luthria and writer Rajat Aroraa step in, combining the best of both! Neither do they go over-the-top, nor do they try too hard to restrain themselves, and this is where they come up with a brilliantly executed win-win formula. Aroraa, who had previously collaborated with Luthria and Balaji for Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai returns to dish away some equally electrifying dialogues and impactful scenes with his tightly written screenplay and dialogues. The most important thing is, while Rajat Aroraa makes the story look absolutely mind-blowing on paper, Luthria executes it with the élan that’s required for a film like this. It’s no small wonder then that he’s ended up making a movie that strikes a chord with the audience.
The background score is powerful, experimental and well-composed. Editing by Akiv Ali is consistent, and doesn’t hesitate to be slow and subdued rather than razor-sharp when needed. At first you end up feeling that some portions of the second half could have been done away with at the editing table, but as the movie ends, you’ll realize that Luthria needed to keep those scenes only to bode well with the psyche of Silk and the defense mechanisms she adopts in the later reels. The music by Vishal and Shekhar is a commercial blockbuster, but apart from “Ishq Sufiyana”, none of them technically hold replay value. The songs though are made especially for the film and they’re shot equally well.
Performance-wise, though there are veterans like Naseeruddin Shah in the cast, the one person who leaves everyone else way behind in the movie is Vidya Balan. Her transformation from a village belle with the loudmouth to a misunderstood superstar and then to a struggling woman with a shattered heart is amazing. She has no inhibitions about looking either overtly sexual in some places, or unprecedentedly ugly in the later reels. Add to that, every ounce of expression she generates, whether it’s looking slutty on-camera, or simply meeting eye-to-eye and fearlessly saying what she has to when she has to; Vidya gets it all right – everywhere. She’s the one actor who has managed to shed all inhibitions and yet never look vulgar, cheap or slutty in even a single frame. If Vidya doesn't win awards for her role, the jury be damned. I laughed, I cried, I pained, I chuckled, and more than everything else - I sat in awe as I saw Vidya doing everything "dirty" possible - making suggestive gestures, showing dangerously too much cleavage and spewing out dirty words (yet wondered why wasn't I feeling any of those gestures were any cheaper or vulgar looking).
Of the men, Naseeruddin Shah has some pretty interesting lines and scenes, and most of what was shown and based on his character is something I can still see in the South Indian film industry – what with older men still romancing younger women – but of course I’m pretty sure they must be nicer individuals compared to the conniving, sex-crazed superstar Surya he’s played with panache. Tushhar Kapoor does what he can do best – act, without any hang-ups. I like his performances; they’re earnest, simple and heart-rending, especially when he’s doing more serious roles, like in Shor In The City. Emraan Hashmi is a brilliant actor. Yes, I’ve said it time and again, but the intensity with which he plays all his characters is not just commendable, but also applause-worthy. Of the supporting cast, Shivani Tanksale playing Surya’s wife and Anjoo Mahendroo playing the sophisticated critic-cum-gossip writer Nayla, take the cake. Isn’t it weird that all the women play far more impactful roles here?
Trying to find words that can fittingly end this article, all I can say is I am a rebel and I could relate to the film very well, because Silk is too. Watch the film for Vidya Balan’s heart-stopping performance, for the rebel in you and for the love of filmmaking. Period.