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On Silk Smitha’s Birthday, Kamal Haasan Recalls The Sad Sexy Siren



Silk Smitha

Cinema has a history  of actresses who died young. Madhubala: died of a heart ailment at age 33. Meena Kumari: died at 39 of an alcohol-induced liver problem. Geeta Bali: died at 35 of small pox. Smita Patil: died at 31 of post-pregnancy complications. Vimi: in her 30s died of alcoholism

.Parveen Babi: Age 55, died of severe depression. Divya Bharti: died in a freak accident age 19

Jiah Khan: died at 25. Silk Smitha:  committed suicide at age 36.

Silk, real name Vijayalakshmi Vadlapatla, had to give up her schooling at  the age of 10 to support her large family. The  name Silk Smitha came  from  the 1979 Tamil  film Vandichakkaram where she played a character named Silk.From then onwards she was typecast as a sex symbol, her sizzling dances often adding  sizeable boxoffice clout to  the films that she  starred in.

Kamal  Haasan with whom Silk Smitha danced to the  number Oh babua  yeh mahua in the film Sadma , spoke  about her  to me  in an interview some years  ago. “My erotic dance with Silk Smitha  didn’t really belong in the film. It was  a commercial concession  and I had to go along with it. It was not part of the original  script. We decided to put in an erotic dance, but in a way not done in any film before and without spending money.So we had just me and Silk.”

Kamal Haasan revealed that Silk Smitha ,known as  softporn  queen for her  gyrations, couldn’t dance  to save her life. “She didn’t know how to dance…at all! The dance was choreographed by Prabhu Deva’s father Sundaram Master. He just incorporated whatever  she could do.Silk was  a brilliant mimic and could imbibe what she learnt.”

Though untutored  in fashionable  ways, Silk Smitha knew her clothes and  makeup.

Recalled Kamal Haasan ,  “With due respects she was from a  village. But she had astounding sense of fashion. She kept reading fashion magazines. She would insist on cooking for Balu and me, though she was a terrible cook.She couldn’t even identify the ingredients .I lost touch with her soon after Sadma.”

Kamal Haasan  revealed Silk Smitha’s life was no bed of roses. “Hers was a very hard life.She had gone through a lot.She used to share her horrific experiences with us.”

Thankfully she  didn’t live to see Ekta Kapoor’s bio-pic The Dirty Picture  allegedly based on Silk  Smitha’s life, cannibalizing  just parts  of her real life and shamelessly making up the rest.Vidya Balan looked nothing  like Silk. Her  performance was  more self-congratulatory than immersive. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say  Silk died  again after The Dirty Picture was released.

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