Head-turners, showpieces and glamour girls are some of the common descriptions used for actresses in male-dominated Hindi filmdom. But feisty producer Ekta Kapoor and her discovery, the bold and talented Vidya Balan, have proved to be game changers with 'The Dirty Picture'.
' 'The Dirty Picture' had a shocking opening of Rs.32.62 crore. This has put the film in the enviable list of top 10 first three days ever,' Girish Johar, head of distribution of Balaji Motion Pictures, which has produced the film, said.
Even a filmmaker like Ram Gopal Varma, who has so far made only male-centric movies, can't stop raving about the film by Ekta, who seems to have a knack for picking real stories and turning them into box office wonders.
'I want to give 2 million 15 lakh 17 thousand 3 hundred and 26 and a half kisses to Ekta for proving that Dirty is Clean and Clean is Dirty,' he tweeted.
Ekta has always been a trailblazer - when she entered the TV business, she was crowned television czarina following her long-running successful soaps like 'Kyunki...Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi', 'Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii' and 'Kasautii Zindagii Kay' and made saas-bahu sagas the staple diet on TV.
When she forayed into the moviemaking business, she left the small screen melodrama far behind and carved a niche by doing real life stories with films like 'Shootout At Lokhandwala', 'Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai', 'Ragini MMS' and now 'The Dirty Picture'.
And she has also brought forth Vidya. In a way, Vidya is Ekta's prodigy as she brought the actress into the limelight with her comedy show 'Hum Paanch' as Radhika, a geek, in 2000.
After featuring in song videos, the actress enjoyed a dream debut in Bollywood with 'Parineeta', but she was jolted back to reality by mishaps like 'Kismet Konnection' and 'Heyy Babyy'.
But just like her mentor, Vidya bounced back as a single mother in 'Paa' and took her boldness a step further with her sensuous avatar in 'Ishqiya'.
'The Dirty Picture' is her boldest performance so far - she sheds clothes and inhibitions to play a sex symbol.
Though critics are not so happy with director Milan Luthria's treatment of the subject and too much focus on Vidya's skin show, the 32-year-old actress has no regrets.
'I am not coy or 'chui mui' type,' said the actress in an interview and persisted that she is 'unapologetic' about her dare bare act and that 'she loves the limelight and enjoys the attention she gets.'
An unofficial biopic of southern sex symbol Silk Smitha, 'The Dirty Picture', which released with an A-certificate, may not fit the bill of a family watch, but critics are raving about her performance.
It won't be an exaggeration to say that just like her dialogue in the film 'itihaas awah hai ki mardon ki duniya rahi hai, aurton ne aa kar hungama macha diya', she has created a furore in the male-dominated arena as Silk.
Usually male actors are seen in the commanding position during film promotions, but here Vidya singlehandedly marketed the film and played the 'hero'.
In fact, Vidya's co-star Emraan Hashmi too feels that the film has broken stereotypes about actresses.
'Can't thank all of you enough for the overwhelming response to 'The Dirty Picture'. The film's emerged a real game changer,' he tweeted.
Echoing the same, writer-director Saurabh Shukla told IANS: 'Vidya Balan is no doubt a marvellous actress and she has proved it once with 'The Dirty Picture'. Bollywood is indeed a male-dominated industry, and even society is; hence fewer woman-centric films are made. But with 'The Dirty Picture', Vidya is likely to turn the tables.'
Once in a while woman power is palpable in the Hindi industry.
Vidya and Rani Mukerji-starrer 'No One Killed Jessica' was a big hit despite the fact that it was a real story and had no glamour or titillating element to it.
Earlier, Priyanka Chopra and Kangana Ranaut's 'Fashion' was a box office success and helped in dispelling the notion that actresses were merely showpieces.
Even Ayesha Takia and Gul Panag's off-beat film 'Dor' was another woman-centric film that did well.
Ranjan Sinha, a Bihar-based distributor, says 'The Dirty Picture' has nothing much to offer in terms of the story, but it has got a good response.
'It is a bold film. There was a lot of curiosity among people. Vidya is indeed a great actress and her acting is once again very good. With 'The Dirty Picture' she has climbed up the popularity charts in Bihar,' he added.
(Arpana can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)