a sobriquet must have been quite a fancy those days, especially
for actors who were meant to be sex symbols (there were
also ‘CID’ Sakunthala and ‘disco’
She quickly became the stuff of erotica, both in movies
and in real life for men of her times. Thanks to her
bar girl role in Vandi Chakkaram, Silk got only similar
offers. She took to soft porn films and became quite
a rage in almost all the regional languages including
Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Kannada and even Hindi.
She had always expressed regret for having been typecast
as a sex bomb, whereas she wanted to do character roles.
Rarely, she did get to do roles but even those roles
were laced with sex one way or other. For instance,
she played the disgruntled wife of an old man in Moondram
Pirai and appeared in a steamy song sequence with Kamal
Hassan (‘Pon Meni Urugude’). She also did
dignified roles in movies like Alaigal Oivadillai and
in comic roles in Paati Sollai Thattade and Avasara
Police 100. There was even a movie titled ‘Silk
Silk Silk’. A movie called Thanga Thaamarai, which
she was reportedly working on before she died, got a
theatrical release after 11 years of her death.
Her claim to fame came with dance numbers in all the
regional languages. Starting from Pon Meni to her last
song O Saloma Salo, she did hundreds of songs in the
eighties and into the nineties. Her Telugu number Baavalu
Sayya will look like it provided inspiration for Bipasha
for her ‘Bidi Jalaile’ in Omkara. Baavalu
Sayya was even remixed, but with a rather insipid effect.
Another significant dance number is ‘Ezhimala
Poonjola’ which she did with Mohanlal for his
Although she was all-pervading, her career wasn’t
probably going great guns. She attempted production
but her three Telugu films flopped miserably at the
box office causing her financial and emotional distress.
She had borrowed heavily for these movies and the financial
commitments evidently gave her much anguish. She has
had an unhappy personal life that also took a toll on
her career and health. She slipped into depression and
became addicted to alcohol. Smitha was said to be deeply
pious and religious and had a temple in her house.
Silk’s eyes were half open when she was found
dead in her apartment. And that image of hers, flashed
across the media after her death, reportedly haunted
many of her fans long after.
She might be dead and gone, but her story and mysterious
death is still a stuff of fantasies. A biopic is being
produced by Ekta Kapoor, titled, The Dirty Picture.
Vidya Balan is said to play Silk in this movie, while
Mallika Sherawat’s name is also being rumored.
Silk Smitha died in her Chennai apartment on September
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