The spotlight on Smita Patil can never be extinguish

Happy birthday to the star that bid adieu too early

Smita Patel is one of the greatest actresses that emerged from the soil where the seed of Bollywood was owned. Her journey from theatre to the silver screen is remarkable. She gave big hits back in the ’70s and is an extremely talented woman.

Smita Patil was born in Pune to a Maharashtrian politician,  Shivajirao Girdhar Girdhar, and social worker mother Vidyatai Patil, from Shirupur town. She studied literature at Bombay University and was a part of local theatre groups in Pune and attended FTII (Film and Television Institute of India).

Smita Patil has actively portrayed an aspect of political cinema back in the 1970s. Her work includes films like Shyam Benegal, Govind Nihalani, Satyajit Ray (Sadgati, 1981), G. Aravindan (Chidambaram, 1985). In her films, Patil’s character has often voiced femininity that stands in relief against the conventional background of male-dominated cinema. Patil was a women’s rights activist and became famous for her roles in films that portrayed women as an independent role that does not need a charming prince for rescue.

 In the early 1970s, she started as a television newsreader on Doordarshan. Her first film role was when she was FTII student film Teevra Madhyam by Arun Khopkar. From there she was discovered and cast in a children’s film, Charandas Chor. Her first major role was Manthan, in which she played a Harijan woman who leads the revolt of the milk co-operative. Later she won the National Film Award for Best Actress for her performance in Bhumika, just three years after her debut. This film in which she portrays an actress leading a tumultuous life through sudden fame and stardom; brought her talent to the attention of the world.

“I remained committed to the small cinema for about five years … I refused all commercial offers. Around 1977–78, the small cinema movement started picking up and they needed names. I was unceremoniously dropped from a couple of projects. This was a very subtle thing but it affected me a lot. I told myself that here I am and I have not bothered to make money. I have turned down big, commercial offers because of my commitment to small cinema, and what have I got in return? If they want names I’ll make a name for myself. So I started and took whatever came my way.”

Smita Patil was not very comfortable with glamorous roles in commercial films, such as Shakti and Namak Halaal. Despite that, she did and showed that she is capable to act in both, “serious” cinema and the “Hindi cinema” masala in the Hindi film industry.

Each of these films was different and dealt with various social issues. Their performances were critically acclaimed. In 1986, Amrit became the fifth highest-grossing film of the year. Patil’s performance as a spirited spice-factory worker who stands up against a lecherous petty official in this film was praised highly. Due to her commendable performances, Forbes included her performance in the film she was included in “25 Greatest Acting Performances of Indian Cinema”.

She was an active feminist and was a member of the Women’s Centre in Mumbai. She attempted to portray women’s issues through her different films. She was also involved in charity work, donating the winnings of her first National Award to charity.

some of her notable works are

Manthan (1977)– talked about the cooperative movement that led to the white revolution in the milk industry

Jait Re Jait (1978)- is a  marathi movie based on a book by G.N. Danekar

Aakrosh (1980)- based on corruption and angst of man.

Namak Halaal (1982)- a rom-com movie starring Smita Patil and Amitabh Bachchan was an absolute delight to watch.

Bazaar (1982)- based on bride buying in Hyderabad and objectification of woman as a machine to bring kids or selloff her body.

Mandi (1983)- is based on a short story Aanandi that talks about politics and prostitutes shown comically. Aaj Ki Awaaz(1984), Chidambaram (1985), and Mirch Masala (1985) are some other well-accomplished films.

Personal life

Unfortunately, Smita died from childbirth complications on 13 December 1986, at age 31, barely two weeks after having given birth to her son, Prateik Babbar. The Priyadarshni Academy started with the Smita Patil Memorial Award as a tribute to the veteran actress in 1986. Rediff.com listed her as the second-greatest Indian actress of all time. In 2012 Smita Patil International Film Festival Documentaries and Shorts were initiated in her honor. On the occasion of 100 years of the Indian cinema, a postage stamp bearing her face was released by India Post to honor her on 3 May 2013.