Do you hear me…I am SILK…

Life is too short, live it or leave it.

Alive - - Content - by Rimli Bhat­tacharya

Vi­jay­alak­shmi Vad­la­p­ati is known by her screen name Silk

Smitha. She thought her­self a badas­sand is a Sagittarius born who chose death leav­ing aside her dreams to be an ac­tress at a ten­der age of thirty five.

She had to end her education at age eight due to the eco­nomic con­straints. Given to her stun­ning beauty and sen­su­al­ity her own fam­ily pushed her for an early mar­riage only to be abused by her in-laws and her hus­band.

Bol­ly­wood had al­ready made a movie on her Dirty

Pic­ture cast­ing Vidya Balan as Silk Smitha; where it fea­tured that she ran away from her ma­tri­arch’s house.The fact is she fled from the clutches of the tor­ture and hu­mil­i­a­tion ren­dered to her by her love­less mar­riage and landed in Madras, now Chen­nai.

She shared a tiny apart­ment with her aunt and also had the pas­sion to dream big.

She started her ca­reer as a touch up artist for vet­eran ac­tresses and starred in small char­ac­ter roles when she was no­ticed by Vinu Chakravarthy, who groomed her, taught her English, and

“You’re only given one lit­tle spark of mad­ness. You mustn’t lose it”

– Robin Wil­liams, Amer­i­can Co­me­dian.

gave her the on­screen name

Smitha. It was only after the megahit movie

Vandichakkaram and her out­stand­ing role in the film a new feather was added to her name Silk. It was her screen name in that movie which later be­came her iden­tity.

Call it her vul­ner­a­bil­ity, in­stead of fo­cus­ing on char­ac­ter roles she took to roles which fea­tured her as a cabaret dancer, se­duc­tress or a vamp. Given to her cor­us­cat­ing sex ap­peal she found that these roles are in­deed pi­geon holes for her. A wall flower by na­ture,

Silk was of­ten mis­taken as a rude woman, but deep in her she had a child – like in­no­cence, was punc­tual, zeal­ous but equally had a tem­per man­age­ment prob­lem.

Hav­ing fea­tured in Malay­alam, Telegu, Tamil movies she also fea­tured in Ka­mal Haasan and Sridevi star­rer movie Sadma, where she played Soni the wife of Somu’s boss. So­muwas played by Haasan him­self and as her type­cast she acted as a se­duc­tress, re­veal­ing her thighs, try­ing to al­lure Somu only to be ig­nored.

It’s ac­tu­ally a harsh truth she was in­deed ig­nored in her real life was well; she was a woman no one ever loved but wanted her only for their needs.

Films

To name some of her films: Vandichakkaram, Ranga, Sadma, Seethakoka Chiluka, Avasara Police 100 and many more. Though, she did not re­ceive any award in her short act­ing stin­tex­cept the re­mark that she is a sex bomb.

It was the in­stant suc­cess that got in her head at­trib­uted to the roles she fea­tured; she started treat­ing her pro­duc­ers and di­rec­tors like suds, she turned abu­sive to­wards the press and me­dia, she also turned dis­re­spect­ful to her own col­leagues, her ad­dic­tion to­wards al­co­hol in­creased, lit­tle did she re­al­ize she was turn­ing to a vic­tim of de­pres­sion. To the world she was a scin­til­lat­ing fig­ure and she felt in no time she will be a pro­ducer her­self, but deep in her was the lone­li­ness which was grad­u­ally tak­ing an up­per hand.

In her in­ter­view with Film­fare when asked “There has been a lot of crit­i­cism about you in the press. That suc­cess has gone to your head. That you are very dis­cour­te­ous and dis­re­spect­ful in your deal­ings with film mak­ers and co-artistes. Any ex­pla­na­tions from you? To which she replied “These are ma­li­cious al­le­ga­tions made against me in mag­a­zines which claim to be film mag­a­zines but are ac­tu­ally pur­vey­ors of yel­low jour­nal­ism [...].They have ac­cused me of treat­ing my pro­duc­ers and oth­ers badly. Now, that is to­tally un­true. If it were true, then no­body will be cast­ing me in their films […].Just about 4 years and in this time I have acted over 200 films. Nat­u­rally, there must be sev­eral peo­ple who are jeal­ous of my suc­cess. I think it is such peo­ple who are be­hind all this ma­li­cious pro­pa­ganda. They’re try­ing to dam­age my rep­u­ta­tion”.

A lonely woman

A deeply re­li­gious woman like any In­dian per­sona she too prayed had a tem­ple at her home. A lonely woman who thought of pro­duc­ing movies only to be bur­dened by debts. Her ul­ti­mately death fetched sev­eral con­tro­ver­sies – was she lonely? Did suc­cess make her a loony? Was she de­pressed? Was it love she looked for? Was it the money?

Re­veals Kan­nada Ac­tor Ravichan­dran to Times of In­dia “I was busy shoot­ing that day (Septem­ber 23, 1996) and was sur­prised to see Smitha try­ing fran­ti­cally to reach me a few times. I tried to speak to her, but the call never got through due to poor con­nec­tiv­ity […]. How­ever the next day, to my hor­ror, I re­alised that Smitha had killed her­self. I shud­der

WAS IT LOVE SHE LOOKED FOR? A deeply re­li­gious woman like any In­dian per­sona she too prayed had a tem­ple at her home. A lonely woman who thought of pro­duc­ing movies only to be bur­dened by debts. Her ul­ti­mately death fetched sev­eral con­tro­ver­sies – was she lonely? Did suc­cess make her a loony? Was she de­pressed? Was it love she looked for? Was it the money?

to think what could have been the rea­son for her call. This haunts even me now.”

A beau­ti­ful fe­male who had her roots in a poor fam­ily, bore the brunt of mal­treat­ment by her InLaws and hus­band, ran away to dream big only to kill her­self and die a lonely mis­er­able death.

Bi­ased treat­ment

She was never given a fair treat­ment when she lived but is only re­mem­bered after her death and that too as a sex sym­bol not as a woman who needed love. Bol­ly­wood made a film on her, it would have been bet­ter if they could have taken her for treat­ment, if pos­si­ble ex­tend an un­der­stand­ing heart. Dirty Pic­ture was a big hit, but be­hind that movie was a woman who died at age thirty five. Re­ports In­dia to­day where her brother said “It was made on Smitha’s life, bar­ring some mod­i­fi­ca­tions to suit the film. The only dif­fer­ence is that con­trary to the vul­gar and cheap man­ner in which Balan’s char­ac­ter has been de­picted, my sis­ter led a dig­ni­fied life off screen. In the film, Balan’s char­ac­ter is a smoker and an al­co­holic, who has sev­eral sex­ual li­aisons. Smitha was never like that in her real life”

As a hu­man I ask a ques­tion to that brother “Where were you, when she needed you all, you pushed her for an early mar­riage, did you ever think how she dealt alone? A young vul­ner­a­ble woman who needed a kind heart, some words of en­cour­age­ment, why were you silent, she was a part of your fam­ily, your own blood.” One can­not deny the fact she was good in act­ing, lit­tle men­tor­ing could have molded her to a stun­ning ac­tress in­stead of a crum­pet who took her life.

Once said by Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe “Be­ing a sex sym­bol is a heavy load to carry, es­pe­cially when one is tired, hurt and be­wil­dered.”

Suc­cess is a dif­fi­cult dic­tion. For some suc­cess it is to have a home, for some only to get good grades, for some to have a great fam­ily and the list is end­less. But there also an­other eerie fac­tor which crawls be­hind suc­cess, the deadly curse de­pres­sion. It is known for its suc­cess in tak­ing life, turn a per­son to a vic­tim of men­tal ill­ness and if un­treated can end a life, just the same way Ch­ester Ben­ning­ton left the the­atre of life at age forty one. He hanged him­self to death. This es­say was about Silk

Smitha but I dragged Ch­ester Ben­ning­ton as well. Yes, I did that and this is the rea­son: To con­clude the es­say I say, you got to go, climb a lit­tle higher, clear the fog, find an­other rea­son to stay, don’t you say you want to run away; but also know even if you reach the peak of suc­cess be­lieve the fact you are just an­other hu­man be­ing, ex­tend com­pas­sion, don’t be ego­is­tic or rude, that doesn’t last. What lasts is how many hearts you have healed may be through films, by your wis­dom, by your writes, by your songs.

Fi­nally, death ac­cepted!

Silk wanted to live, yet chose death.I again re­peat, let that suc­cess not get in to your head, it’s a delu­sion; it will ruin you, be hum­ble, be kind, and be gen­tle. There are cases of celebri­ties com­mit­ting sui­cide un­able to bear the con­tra­dic­tion of their hey days and down­fall. Some turn men­tally ill, some take to al­co­hol, some get hooked to drugs leading a caged life of their own men­tal demons and some suc­cumb to sui­cide. Two have been cited in this es­say and let the world not in­crease the death toll by sui­cides. It’s a life gifted by God and you have no right to take it.

Seek help if you are de­pressed, con­fide your feel­ings to some­one you trust, re­lease your ag­o­nies and once re­leased you will heal. It’s your life, take the tide and say happy jour­ney to the roller coaster ride called life. Peo­ple will judge you any­way, do not pay a heed, fo­cus on what you love, fol­low it fully and do it com­pletely. Re­spect ev­ery­one and also have sel­f­re­spect. Lead a healthy life with a head hold high. We all will die one day for sure, but let that be nat­u­ral, just know you are a fighter, you be­long.

RE­MEM­BERED AFTER DEATH She was never given a fair treat­ment when she lived but is only re­mem­bered after her death and that too as a sex sym­bol not as a woman who needed love.

Vi­jay­alak­shmi Vad­la­p­ati, shown as Silk Smitha.

Poster of Dirty Pic­ture, fea­tur­ing Vidya Balan as Silk Smitha.

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