Vidya Balan’s unabashed celebration of south Indian star Silk Smitha’s sexuality in The Dirty Picture is hailed as one of the best acts in Hindi cinema and looking back at the 2011 success, the actor says she didn’t mean to use her body to tell a story.
Today, at a panel discussion on Women shaping the narrative in media and entertainment, Vidya recalled how many dissuaded her from doing The Dirty Picture, saying it was “only about sex.”
“When I did The Dirty Picture, people said that it’s only about sex. ‘She used her body to get ahead in life. You are using your body.’ I said it’s okay, if that’s what get you to the theaters. Because only then you will know her story,” the actor said.
Vidya Balan also shared how discussion around female sexuality has increased courtesy more female narratives on screen like Lipstick Under My Burkha and the recent Amazon Prime Original, Four More Shots Please.
“Whether it’s sexuality or body, we start from there and then move inwards. Just the kind of conversations that it has sparked,” Tumhari Sulu actor said.
Other panellists at the discussion included filmmakers Zoya Akhtar, Guneet Monga and Gazal Dhaliwal.
Later, during the session, the moderator asked the panellists if they felt in the post Me Too-era men are being left out of the increased dialogue around women and their stories.
“I was thinking there is no man on this panel. We aren’t even listening to them. We don’t want to know what they say,” the moderator said.
Vidya replied, “I don’t think there was any intentional exclusion of men here. For the longest time, we have waited to be heard. It is not that this is not for men and will not include men. It is because we want to express ourselves as much.”
“I am sure men are listening. I hope every man wants to hear what we say. But I hope many women also listen to us because often we women are the product of that conditioning and deeply ingrained sexism. We can’t just say it’s about the men. We have not known any better,” she said.