Saturday, May 26, 2012
As I’ve mentioned again and again, pioneering Indian action director KSR Doss had a gift for focusing on powerful women in physically demanding roles. In the 70s, these assignments typically fell to Jyothi Laxmi or Vijaya Lalitha, but, come the 80s -- and with them Toofan Rani, a Hindi dubbed version of the director’s Telegu hit Toofan Mail -- we see that he had found a worthy successor to those formidable stars in South Indian sex bomb Silk Smitha.
The Dirty Picture. As that title suggests, she was primarily known for appearing in so-called Indian “erotic” films. That said, the actual viewing of one of those films is much less likely to provide erotic thrills than it is to underscore the deep conservatism of Indian cinema as a whole. For, while Smitha on occasion wore onscreen just about as little clothing as an Indian starlet could get away with, what remained still left a considerable amount to the imagination.
Fearless Nadia, who made such outfits a personal trademark during her heyday. And while the association is unquestionably appropriate and deserved, it’s doubtful that Nadia ever had to submit to her opponents forcefully splaying her legs open to give the viewer an eyeful.
Kamal Hassan ringer Naresh, a karate champion whose family home is adorned throughout with giant posters of him in various karate poses, one of which is directly over his bed.
Rani Mera Naam, with its heroine refusing to be denied vengeance against her parents’ killers despite the consequences, and then, once the deed is done, accepting those consequences with resigned stoicism. Thus we end on a shot of Silk Smitha being lead, handcuffed, into a police wagon, followed by the sad glances of both those she has liberated in the climactic melee and the law enforcement officers whose jobs she has essentially done for them. Over the preceding two hours, we’ve had a blast watching her kick ass, uninhibitedly shake her junk, and crash motorcycles through walls, but, in the end, someone clearly has to pay. And once again -- for the time being, at least -- it ain’t going to be us.