Star Of The Week - Smita Patil


DOB: October 17, 1958
Star: Libra
Birthplace: Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Occupation: Film, television and theatre actress
Regarded as: One of the finest stage and film actresses of her time.


• Smita Patil appeared in over 80 Hindi and Marathi films in a career that spanned just over a decade.

• She became one of the leading actresses of parallel cinema, a New Wave movement in Indian cinema, though she also appeared in several mainstream movies. Her performances were often acclaimed, and her most notable roles include Manthan (1977), Bhumika (1977), Aakrosh (1980), Chakra (1981), Chidambaram (1985) and Mirch Masala (1985).

• She received two National Film Awards and a Filmfare Award. Smita was also the recipient of the Padma Shri, India's fourth-highest civilian honour in 1985.

• In 1984, she served as a jury member of the Montreal World Film Festival.

• In 2012, the Smita Patil Documentary and Short Film Festival was initiated in her honor.

Interesting facts:

• Smita Patil was born into a Kunbi Maratha family to a Maharashtrian politician, Shivajirao Girdhar Patil and social worker mother Vidyatai Patil. She graduated from the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune.

• Her first tryst with the camera was in the early 1970s as a television newsreader on an Indian government run broadcaster and and was also an accomplished photographer when Shyam Benegal discovered her. She made her film debut with his Charandas Chor (1975).

• In 1977, she won the National Award for Best Actress for her performance in the Hindi film Bhumika. In her films, Smita’s character often represents an intelligent femininity that stands in relief against the conventional background of male-dominated cinema.

• She revealed "I remained committed to 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 took whatever came my way."

• All the commercial filmmakers she worked with thereafter agreed that she was "excellent." Her fans, too, grew with her new-found stardom.

• Her association with artistic cinema remained strong, however. Arguably, her greatest (and unfortunately final) role came when Smita played the feisty and fiery Sonbai in Mirch Masala (1987). Smita won raves for playing a spirited spice-factory worker who stands up against a lecherous petty official.

• During the making of Chakra, Smita used to visit the slums in Bombay. Her role in the film culminated in another National Award.

• Apart from acting, Smita was an active feminist and a member of the Women's Centre in Mumbai. She was deeply committed to the advancement of women's issues and gave her endorsement to films which sought to explore the role of women in traditional Indian society.

• Patil was married to actor Raj Babbar. She died on 13 December 1986 at the age of 31 due to childbirth complications. Over 10 of her films were released after her death.