The Dirty Picture is a 2011 Indian biographical drama film inspired by the life of Silk Smitha, a South Indian actress noted for her erotic roles. The filmmakers have clarified that the story is not officially or literally based on Smitha alone, but on many of her Southern contemporaries such as Nylon Nalini and Disco Shanti. It also resembles the personal lives of other women in popular culture, including Hollywood actress and sex symbol Marilyn Monroe. The film was directed by Milan Luthria and co-produced by Shobha Kapoor and Ekta Kapoor, after Ekta came up with the idea and asked screenwriter Rajat Aroraa to pen a story based on it.
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Produced in a budget of INR18 crore (US$3.59 million), The Dirty Picture was released worldwide on 2 December 2011 (the anniversary of Smitha’s birth), in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu versions. Vidya Balan, Naseeruddin Shah, Tusshar Kapoor and Emraan Hashmi played lead roles in the film. Upon release the film was both a critical and commercial success, with Balan receiving the highest accolades for her performance; she was called “the hero of the film”. In addition, the film has received widespread praise for portraying women as powerful, contributing something unique to a typically male-dominated society. The film’s music was composed by Vishal Shekhar with lyrics written by Rajat Aroraa.
The Dirty Picture grossed INR117 crore (US$23.34 million) worldwide and received several awards, most of which were won by Balan for her portrayal of Silk. The film won three National Film Awards including Best Actress, three Filmfare Awards and six Screen Awards including Best Picture and Best Director. Box Office India declared the film a Blockbuster after its fourth week.