Actor Vidya Balan, who essays the character ‘Reshma’ in her forthcoming film, The Dirty Picture, inspired by the life of the southern siren Silk Smitha says, since Silk was bold and fearless, she was hugely exploited. The Milan Luthria directed movie chronicles the life of controversial South Indian actor Vijayalaxmi, popularly known as Silk Smitha.
“Silk was ahead of her time. She took pride in what she did. Silk was bindaas, fearless, open and wanted to live life to the fullest. She believed in taking every opportunity and living every moment, and was not bothered about what people talk or think. There was some childishness in her too,” says Balan. “People think Silk was bold only because she used to dress up or pose in certain way...but this was one part of her fearlessness. Some even felt she was shameless but I don’t think she was. Today, girls are in complete command of their life and sexuality... they are unapologetic and take pride in whatever they do. Silk was like that back then, which is why she was misunderstood and people exploited that,” she says. Vijayalaxmi reached the iconic status of a sex symbol in Tamil cinema during her time.
Appearing in over 200 films, the young seductress was neck deep in controversies and eventually died at the age of 33. It is suspected that she committed suicide. The movie goes back into the era of 1980s, especially in Tamil films and shows the highs and lows of a dancing star. Balan says the film is not based on Silk Smitha’s life but is inspired by her. “The film is not based on Silk Smitha but is inspired by her life. It is about a dancing star...dancing stars were popular back then in 1980s... And Silk was number one in that period. There were other colleagues of Silk like Disco Shanti, Nylon Nandini and Polyester Padmini but Silk was first of her kind. Hence, the name of the film character is Silk,” elaborates Balan.
Produced by Ekta Kapoor, the film also stars Naseeruddin Shah, Tusshar Kapoor and Emraan Hashmi. Ask Vidya if she did any research to get into the skin of the character and she says, “I did not watch Silk Smitha’s film. I watched Sadma (Silk was part of this 1983 Hindi film) again... there was a song ‘Oh Bahua’, performed by Silk...I had seen that song several times but saw it again. It is not only about Silk I had also seen others like Nylon Nandini to get to see what it was like in that era.”
She further adds, “There was no preparation from my end for the role. Milan just told me I have to be ‘bindaas’ and everything would be in control. Initially, I didn’t understand. Now I know and understand that it was all about being completely free and fearless, and I have enjoyed exploring that side of me.” The film will be released on December 2, the birth anniversary of Silk Smitha.