Silk Smitha’s birth anniversary: Looking back at when she wanted to be a character actor like Savitri
On Silk Smitha’s birth anniversary, we look back to the time the actor spoke about her ambition and dreams for her career.
Silk Smitha might be a name synonymous with glamorous roles, jaw-dropping looks and a tragic personal life today but there was a time when Vijayalakshmi Vadlapati (her birth name) wanted nothing more than to be taken seriously as an actor. Born on December 2, 1960, in Eluru district, Andhra Pradesh, she was one of the most sought-after actors till her mysterious death in 1996 shocked the nation. (Also Read: Vidya Balan recalls her reaction when people told her starring in The Dirty Picture will ‘ruin your career’)
‘I want to be like Savitri’
When asked by Filmfare in 1984 why she was specialising in glamorous roles, Silk told the publication, “I want to be a character actor like Savitri, Sujata and Sarita. However, I played a character called Silk Smitha in my second film Vandichakkaram and that’s the kind of role that followed. People liked my performance and my ambition remains the same, but I keep getting offered glam roles and I can’t let down filmmakers. I want to make a name for myself as a character actor but I will never demand for these roles. Producers and directors depend on my talent to sell their films. I shall do whatever roles come my way.”
A vast filmography
Like she stated, there were times when people would throng to the theatre just to see her dance or play what was considered to be a vampy role on-screen. She made a name for herself not just in Telugu and Tamil, but also Malayalam, Kannada and Hindi film industries. In a career spanning almost two decades, she acted in over 450 films. For most of her career, Silk found herself typecast in the roles of cabaret dancers or women that were anything but coy. Later in her career, she would portray a freakishly strong agent beating up goons while dressed in a bikini in multiple films.
Roles that earned her respect
Despite being typecast, Silk did land roles once in a while that let her achieve her dream of being taken seriously. In the 1981 Tamil film Alaigal Oivathillai, she played Elissy, a wife who cannot cope with the fact that she passively aided her husband in the sexual assault of a domestic worker. In the 1982 Tamil film Moondram Pirai, which was remade in Hindi as Sadma, she shared the screen with Kamal Haasan and Sridevi. But such roles were unfortunately few and far in between for her.
On September 23, 1996, Silk’s body was found in her apartment, with a suicide note. On the previous night, she had told her friend that something serious was disturbing her. While excessive alcohol was found in her body post mortem, her death remains a mystery. In July last year, a note that was supposedly written by the actor before her passing went viral on social media.