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Just who is Silk Smitha

Last updated on: February 10, 2011 18:01 IST

Just who is Silk Smitha

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A rapid rise from obscurity to superstardom, an unchallenged period of screen dominance through sheer sexuality, and then a sudden suicide, at the age of 35 while still very desired and in demand.

The life of Silk Smitha, the most glamorous woman in all of South Indian cinema, is now being adapted into a film by Milan Luthria, tentatively titled Dirty Picture.

But before watching Vidya Balan play the iconic sex-symbol, read on for a look at Silk's life and times.


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Right from her childhood, Vijayalakshmi wanted to be a star.

Cinema held a grand fascination for the girl born in Eluru, Andhra Pradesh, despite the fact that she came from a very poor family. So poor, in fact, that they couldn't afford to send her to school, and she could only study upto class IV.

The young girl moved in with her aunt in Madras, and quickly found her way to Kodambakkam, where the South Indian film industry is centered. Her first job was that of a touch-up girl to a B-grade actress.

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Just who is Silk Smitha

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Yet makeup wasn't her destiny, and she soon entered into a relationship with the actress' lover, an old industry hand who launched her as a starlet and christened her Smitha.

She was noticed in the Malayalam film Inaye Thedi, but it was with the Tamil film Vandi Chakkram that Smitha shed her clothes and stunned audiences with her oomph. The film was a spectacular success, and Smitha whose character in the film was called Silk became Silk Smitha.

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Just who is Silk Smitha

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In an astonishing show of screen dominance, Smitha then acted in over 200 films over the next three years, becoming the most sought-after item girl years before Bollywood caught on to the trend.

Smitha's raunchy songs soon became essential to films, with distributors forcing producers to include Smitha songs. Completed films stayed in the cans while Smitha found the time to do a trademark sexy dance for them, only after which they got released.

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Earning more than the top heroines of the time, Smitha charged    50,000 for a single dance sequence, and shot two-three dances a day for different films.

She hit peak when a film called Silk Silk Silk was released with her in a triple role! The audiences ate it up, only too gladly.

And it wasn't just the skin-show. Serious filmmakers couldn't ignore the Silk phenomenon, and she was seen opposite screen legends like Kamal Haasan, Rajnikant, Chiranjeevi and Sivaji Ganesan. She even acted in critically acclaimed films like Balu Mahendra's Moonram Pirai and Bharathi Raja's Alaigal Oivathillai.

Silk Smitha tasted Bollywood success with Sadma, co-starring Kamal Haasan and Sridevi.


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But making 500 films in less than 10 years had to take its toll, and a decade after she started scorching the screen, Smitha began to get sidelined when younger actresses came in with the same willingness to bare.

Coerced into becoming a producer, Smitha was in severe financial trouble. It is also said that she was heartbroken and disillusioned by her own sudden failure. On September 23, 1996, Smitha was found dead, hanging from the fan in her bedroom.

Her handwritten suicide note said she was frustrated with her life and failures, but the police never quite ruled out foul play. Either way, it was a tragic end for a revolutionary icon, one who brazenly took the limelight away from the established legends and carved her own unique path.

Will Vidya Balan be able to do justice to Silk Smitha? Tell us!


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