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.