In The Asian Age, Suparna Sharma reviews The Dirty Picture:
The Dirty Picture is Adults Only, so is this review. Having sorted that out, let’s go. Ms Vidya Balan, and I say this with respect and not a hint of misogyny, has balls of steel. Not any ordinary steel balls. No. Hers are lipstick-red, clanging, solid, shiny balls, hard to dent and impossible to ignore.
It takes guts to take on a role inspired by the sleazy and tragic life of an extra whose magazine cut-outs and images were mostly conjured up in the privacy of bathrooms to assist ejaculation. Few actresses in Bollywood would have said yes to portraying Silk Smitha, the two-bit “item bomb” from south, and turned it into a career-defining concerto. And fewer still would have delivered it with the dazzling chutzpah and high jinx that the retelling of Smitha’s life demanded, and added their own generous sprinkling of sauce, salt and red pepper. Ms Balan lets it all hang out, metaphorically and literally, and deserves a loud and ecstatic standing ovation.
Barring the last 20-25 minutes, The Dirty Picture is an inspired piece of work. For producer Ekta Kapoor to zero in on Smitha (I am completely ignoring her oscillating stand on it is-it isn’t about Smitha) was obviously a commercial decision more than a feminist schema — you’ll be hard pressed to find a script on which the cliché “exposing is necessary because the script demands it” sits more happily. But to put together a team that not only tells the story with skill and cheekiness, but also comes together to create the naughty Eighties, is an act of mad genius. More: