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Remembering Seductive Siren Silk Smitha Who Set Silver Screen On Fire

She oozed oomph in the most unselfconscious manner. Maybe she herself was not aware of the magnetic sexuality she projected when she came alive on the screen. If fate had consigned her to the backwaters of Eluru in Andhra Pradesh as Vijayalakshmi Vadapatla, this seductive actor launched as Silk Smitha in the Tamil film, Vandichakram in 1979, would have remained yet another anonymous villager. Silk fought her way out of abject poverty and struck out to conquer the arc lights of Kodambakkam as the Rani of raunch. This dark skinned, scintillating, and striking woman careened across the filmy scape, like a meteor, acted in over 300 films in just a span of 17 years, before she died by suicide in 1996. Whatever a lecherous audience spoke about her in trashing terms, few had the integrity to speak about the goodness of Silk Smitha. Bayilvan Ranganathan, a film actor, critic and chronicler talks about Silk as a generous, dignified person, who was punctual and disciplined. If a producer was in dire straits, she would not insist on immediate payment, cooperated with all on the sets, never asked for exotic meals to be catered. Even when the skimpiest costumes were given, she would robotically perform. Director Bharathi Raja cast her in a memorable role in Alaigal Oyvadillai. But Late Balu Mahendra exploited her raw sensuality to the maximum in Moonram Pirai (Sadma ). Even when Rajnikant or Kamal Haasan were signed as leads, the distributor/ financier would insist on at least one dance by Silk, guarantee for repeat audience. Three biopics, including Dirty Picture (Vidya Balan as lead) were made on Silk Smitha.