Vijayalakshmi Vadlapatla, remembered by her stage name Silk Smitha, was known as the sex siren of South Indian cinema in the 1980s. At the age of 36, Silk Smitha enjoyed stardom unlike anyone else. Yet, she was pushed towards taking her own life. Today, December 2, is Silk Smitha’s 60th birth anniversary, and on this day, let’s take a look at her claim to fame and what led to her suicide.
HOW DID VIJAYALAKSHMI BECOME SILK SMITHA?
Vijayalakshmi was born in a poor Telugu family in Andhra Pradesh. She had to discontinue her school at the age of eight due to her economical background. Her family members got her married at a tender age.
She soon escaped her abusive husband and in-laws to find a new life in Chennai. She landed in Jollywood as a touch-up artist for an actress. Eventually, she played supporting characters in films.
It was director Vinu Chakravarthy who noticed her and introduced her as Smitha. In 1979, she was part of the hit film Vandichakkaram in which she played the role of Silk. After receiving praises for her role, she added Silk to her screen name and became Silk Smitha.
HOW DID SILK SMITHA ATTAIN STARDOM?
Her striking looks and sex appeal made her one of the go-to actresses for special numbers in films. Silk Smitha has been a part of several hit films through her special dance numbers.
Back in the 80s and 90s, one special number by Silk Smitha ensured the film a grand opening. These songs were often super hit but raunchy in nature, and because of that, she was stereotyped to playing erotic roles in films.
Silk Smitha ruled the roost in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada film industries. Sakalakalavallavan, Moondram Pirai, Paayum Puli, Thanga Magan are some of the films that made Silk Smitha a phenomenon.
Vinu Chakravarthy and his wife took care of Silk Smitha. They enrolled her in English and dance classes. She developed confidence and even took up challenging roles. In Aliagal Oivathillai, she essayed the role of the wife of a corrupt man and aced it.
“Silk Smitha is a thorough professional,” said several filmmakers who worked with her.
SILK SMITHA’S DECLINE
Silk Smitha was a force to reckon with in films. But, her personal life pushed her into depression. Many failed relationships made her suffer alone. Since she was an introvert, she didn’t have many friends to support her through difficult times.
The losses she suffered after venturing into production hit her on a personal level. With age, she was not getting as much work as she used to. It was on September 23, 1996, that she decided to end things for herself.
Silk Smitha had called her best friend Anuradha, who is also a choreographer and an actor. While Anuradha promised to meet her the next day, Silk Smitha hanged herself on September 23.
Remembering Silk Smitha, many directors who worked with her appreciated her professionalism and her child-like heart.
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