Full Biography of Actress Silk Smitha
Vijayalakshmi Vadlapati (2 December 1960 – 23 September 1996), known popularly as Silk Smitha, was an Indian film artiste who worked predominantly in the South Indian languages. She entered the film industry as an extra actress, and first got noticed for her role as "Silk" in the 1979 Tamil film Vandichakkaram. She became the most sought-after erotic actress in the early 1980s and in a career spanning 17 years, she appeared in over 450 films in Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi languages. On September 23, 1996, she was found dead in her apartment in Chennai, apparently having committed suicide.
Vadlapati was born in a poor family in Eluru, Andhra Pradesh. She left school after her fourth standard (in India, at about 8 years of age) due to the family's financial constraints.She left her married life and ran off to Chennai. Her striking looks burdened her with uninvited attention, and her family married her off at a very young age. When she was ill-treated by her husband and in-laws, she ran away to Madras (now known as Chennai) and started living with an aunt.
Vijayalakshmi started as a touch-up artist for a B-grade actress, and soon got a break in small character roles. Later she was discovered by Tamil director Vinu Chakravarthy at a flour mill. He renamed her Smitha, and took her under his wing: his wife taught her English, and arranged for her to learn dancing from another teacher. Smitha made her debut in the Malayalam film Inaye Thedi in 1979, though soon, due to her marked sex appeal, she switched to roles of cabaret dancers and vamps and inevitably found herself type casted. After garnering much notice and acclaim with her first major role in the Tamil film Vandichakkaram, in 1979, Smitha assumed the screen name "Silk", after her character's name in the movie. However after it became a big hit, she could not escape typecasting, severely limiting her range throughout her career.
Silk Smitha went on to star in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada and a few Hindi films. Her dance numbers, semi-nude scenes and bold performances in films like Moondru Mugam made her the ultimate symbol of sensuality in South Indian cinema. Her item numbers in films like Amaran, Hallimeshtru Kannada were also celebrated at the box office. Some film critics, historians and journalists have referred to her as a "soft porn" actress. A vast majority of her movies are considered 'softcore' by Indian standards and a common theme is her playing a freakishly strong agent in skimpy bikinis beating up huge thugs. Her acting prowess did not go completely unnoticed and in her rare non-sexual roles, she impressed critics and audiences, such as her portrayal of a wife hurt by her husband's infidelity in Alaigal Oivathillai (1981). One of her films, Layanam (1989), has earned a cult status in the Indian adult film industry, and was dubbed in numerous languages including, Hindi as Reshma Ki Jawani (2002), which too acquired cult status. Her most respected film is Moondram Pirai by Balu Mahendra, remade in Hindi as Sadma, with much of the top-drawer cast, including Sridevi, Kamal Hassan, and Silk Smitha reprising their roles.
Such was her audience-drawing power that, at the peak of her career, according to Tamil film historian, Randor Guy, "Films that had lain in cans for years were sold by the simple addition of a Silk Smitha song.”.
In 1996, Smitha was found dead in her Chennai apartment. In the prior year she had been trying to move her career to become a film producer. Financial problems, a disillusionment in love and an alcohol dependency apparently led to depression. It is suspected that Smitha committed suicide by poisoning herself.
In 2011, a biopic on Silk Smitha's life, titled The Dirty Picture, was produced in Hindi by Ekta Kapoor. The movie was directed by Milan Luthria and starred Vidya Balan (who later won Best Actress) as Smitha along with Emraan Hashmi, Naseeruddin Shah, Tusshar Kapoor. The movie was released on Smitha's birthday on December 2, 2011 and received favourable reviews. The same day, The Times of India published her top 10 movie scenes in its Top 10 videos.The Dirty Picture's Telugu dubbed version released in theatres across Andhra Pradesh has broken a 25-year record in box office collections (in dubbed films category). Reports suggest that the family of Silk Smitha, on whom the film is based, is not happy with the movie. Silk Smitha's brother V Naga Vara Prasad claimed the film was made without the family's consent. After the claim, Ekta Kapoor immediately changed her statement by quoting The Dirty Picture is not based on Silk Smitha's life.
More recently, Bollywood actress Kavita Radheshyam did a Tribute photo shoot for Silk Smitha. Kavita Radheshyam earlier came into Controversy when she did a semi nude photo shoot for Animal Rights, In this tribute Kavita quoted Silk to be a very down to earth woman who helped people in need.
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