There have been numerous attempts to make the authoritative bio-pic on the late Smita Patil who died at the age of 31 in 1986 after giving birth to her son Prateik. It’s a story that has all the elements of a bestseller: drama, passion, infidelity,adultery and a life tragically cut short by death at the peak of its productivity.
Why did Smita have to go so early? The question has haunted her fans for 34 years.Earlier on, one of Smita’s favourite directors Govind Nihalani wanted keenly to make a film on her. So did Ketan Mehta who directed in her most iconic film Mirch Masala. Both personally told me how keen they were to make a film on Smita’s life.
“But the problem back then was that Smita’s family specially her sister, stood guard over her life not allowing anyone to trespass anywhere close to Smita’s story,” says an actress who knows Smita and her family well.
This is the problem with celebrity biopics on India. The family comes in the way. Recently Imtiaz Ali dropped the idea of a Madhubala bio-pic after her finally intervened.Several directors have come forward to make bio-pics on Meena Kumari only to hastily beat a retreat after Meenaji’s husband Kamal Amrohi’s family claim that only they have the right to make a film on her.It’s another matter that they’ve done nothing so far.
We recently heard of several Sushant Singh Rajput’s biopics. They never went beyond talks.
Ramesh Sippy who directed Smita Patil in the classic Shakti says, “I’d love to make a film on Smita’s life. Byut who will play Smita?”
My choice to play Smita? Tabu. Or Radhika Apte.
Shabana Azmi disagrees. “I cant think of anyone who can match the intensity of her eyes ..The camera loved her and she could speak volumes with one searing lookAnd I’m saying that in all honesty.”