Chennai: The legion of fans of ‘Silk’ Smitha, who were so far riven by guilt for having encouraged and patronised borderline porn that much of the actress’ roles and films came to represent, are today a relieved lot. They have now come to realise what they had been at was, as a matter of fact, an evolved intellectual exercise in support of feminism.
‘Thanks to The Dirty Picture we have been thoroughly disabused of our totally misplaced notions of compunction,’ said a beaming G P Sarvanamuthu, a 45-year-old Tamil film buff.
‘Vidya Balan has now told us that by acting in the character of ‘Silk’ in TDP she was proudly celebrating her body, a confident assertion of quintessential womanhood. So it only stands to logic, that by watching ‘Silk’ we had struck the much-needed blow for women’s rights even in those times of extreme conservatism,’ Saravanamuthu explained even as he set out to his local DVD supplier in search of some old ‘Silk’ starrers so that he could renew his strong support for women’s right.
‘For more than 15 years I had been living with the idea that watching ‘Silk’ was watching sleaze, something which I was embarrassed to confess in gatherings that did not involve alcoholic beverages. Now I can perhaps come right out, and even possibly include in my CV, that I was a steadfast and sincere backer of feminist enfranchisement, based on the fact that I had watched Surakotai Singakutti and Silk Silk Silk first day first show,’ happily added the 40-year-old K Ramesh.
‘I think it’s also time that my dad apologised to me for severely beating me for watching Layanam in ‘Parangimalai’ Jyothi,’ Ramesh pointed out not unreasonably. Ramesh, however, said that he wouldn’t want his own son to get into this feminist rights movement of watching the kind of movies that ‘Silk’ Smitha made famous.
In Kollywod itself, many producers who made movies with ‘Silk’ feel that the government should offer them tax concessions with retrospective effect ‘for attempting films that were aimed at a noble cause.’
‘I am now happy that I made films in which ‘Silk’, clad in a white saree with socially contrasting inner garments that were made visible with a socially relevant rain, conveyed the larger message to the society: hey! take a look at me feeling totally confident with my body performing things that people generally carry out behind a bolted bathroom,’ claimed a former director.
Meanwhile, in the light of intellectualism represented by The Dirty Picture, it remains to be seen whether some of these producers and directors will be given the Dada Saheb Phalke for their sterling social service of casting ‘Silk’ Smitha in their films so that she could make bold feminist statements by dropping the pallu of her saree. (Of course, anybody in the film industry technically stands to win the Dada Saheb Phalke Award after the fact that they handed it to Yash Chopra despite the unimpeachable evidence that he made Dil To Pagal Hai.
The Dirty Picture, in which Vidya Balan has put her heart into, has been running to packed houses with cerebral fans turning up in large numbers to get a visual understanding of where Vidya’s heart is.
Vidya Balan has also won plaudits from critics for her ‘brave portrayal of a woman who is not afraid to flaunt her figure’. But it is also a fact that when Bollywod actresses flaunt anything else other than their body parts they actually cut a sorry figure.
‘Silk’ Smitha rose to become the sex siren of Tamil screen in the 80s, as she was endowed with an arresting figure, and also the fact that the other contenders for that slot were Jayamalini and Anuradha, who had to flaunt their body because there was no garment large enough to conceal their girth.
Among the roles made memorable by Silk Smitha is the one of her in Alaigal Oyvathillai, in which she plays the demure wife of Thyagarajan. The film’s highpoint being Thyagarajan, married to a woman justly known for her ‘bedroom eyes’ and ‘seductive curves’, does what any normal man in his position would do: Rape the maid. (For the record, that film was not a biopic on Shiny Ahuja).
Anyway, one day when a Bollywood bimbo celebrates the beauty of woman’s body by playing the character of Shakeela, her film watchers can also be deemed intellectuals. In which case, we must accord ‘Parangimalai’ Jyothi the ‘heritage building’ status.
(Disclaimer: At the time of going to press we are told that Vidya Balan is to be booked for obscenity. We want to know, on Silk’s behalf, whether this charge has posthumous effect, too).