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Shakeela Sucks, Period




Starring Richa Chadha,Pankaj Tripathi

Written and  Directed by Indrajit Lankesh

Rating: * ½

Why  a  bio-pic  on Shakeela, an impoverished  man’s  version of Silk Smitha ?  And why a bio-pic which is so tacky cheesy and  unflattering, almost on a  par  with the  films  that Shakeela did, except that there is no skin show in this  , the ‘duh’ Disney  version  of  the life of an adult  star.    In fact the only virtue of this  saga of  a life of sobbing vice, is its coyness.  The  adult actress spends more  time being a holier-than-though abla nari  than a bolder-and-wow  cheesecake bombshell.

 For a film about a Malayali girl who cocked a snook at the moralists and oohed and aahed her way through many  morning-show  hormonal wake-up calls,  there is very little  that can be called  “sexy” in this  film. Even when  the  Superstar Salim(played by a miscast Pankaj Tripathi) makes  sexual advances  they lack lewdness. That  maybe because Pankaj Tripathi is by nature  a gentleman . Even an  actor of  his caliber can’t break his self-imposed  lines of decorum.

Shakeela is a dreadfully trite  and thoroughly deceitful  pseudo-biopic. It wants us to believe  that Shakeela  was such a  big boxoffice draw  during her time that the biggest superstar of Kerala  felt threatened  by her and plotted  her downfall. There is  no  historical  evidence  of any such game of onemanship between Shakila and  any male superstar  of Malayalam  cinema. 

The  Pankaj-Richa Chadha war would have been  interesting if it  had  any basis in facts, or in the absence  of authenticity, if the director had instilled an immediacy and   credibility to their feud . Given  the  poor execution of the maudlin over-sentimental plot and  the  stiff treatment  of  the characters,we  can only hope that  very soon bio-pics can be allowed  to be made in this country  only after a serious cross-checking  of the  subject’s  credentials  and  the  filmmaker’s abilities.

 Shakeela does a  huge disservice  to the cause of biopics in this  country. While the shoddy production values  could be  attributed to a  lack of vision  on the director’s  part, the  lacklustre performance by  the renowned lead actors is absolutely  unforgivable. Both Pankaj Tripathiand Richa Chadha turn  in their career’s worst, and really, they are not to be blamed. Their characters are written as  uni-dimensional  cardboard cut-outs  . One sweats it out as  a slimeball. The  other lives it up as a glycerine queen.

Strangely  Ms Chadha is  shown smoking  through a large  part  of  the  film. A sign  of  her falling status as  a “respectable’ woman?  Pankaj’s  superstar-character is  constantly trailed by a  journalist who  gives him gyan on how to get even with his arch-rival Shakeela.  Silk Smitaalso makes an  appearance. She is shown to be mean,nasty  and jealous of  Shakeela’s rising fortunes(exactly where  it was rising  to, we don’t know).

“Just by stripping you can’t become Silk,” Silk(the  actress playing her looks  nothing  like her)  screams at Shakeela.

Right. And  just by turning  an x-rated actress into a  bio-pic material you can’t change her destiny of near-anonymity.

Suddenly I feel  kindly towards  The Dirty Picture. Suddenly I want to binge on  the films of  Silk Smitha.

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