Super hit song ‘Puzhayorathil Poothoniyethiyilla’ from the movie Adharvam is permanently etched in the hearts of the Malayali movie lovers. This Mammootty-starrer is probably one of the very few movies in which late actress Silk Smitha had essayed a spectacular role. It’s been 24 years since Silk Smitha bid adieu to this world. Meanwhile, Eerali Balan, the producer of Adharvam remembers her as a great friend who owns a lovable and kind heart.
Eerali begins his social media post by stating that Silk Smitha was a great person who maintained amazing relations with the crew members of movie Adharvam until her death. “There are lots to say about Silk Smitha. She was indeed a sought after actress. There was a time when the entire Southern film industry waited for Silk’s dates. She was excited when the plot and her character in Adharvam were narrated. This movie was unlike the usual characters that she had been doing. She was greatly inspired by it. Many had tried to warn us before the filming began that she was a difficult person and that we should be careful while dealing with her. However, Silk Smitha was far from all these on the sets,” says Eerali.
Eerali recalls that Smitha had allotted him 15 days; however, the filming got extended beyond that. She agreed to stay on with the condition that Rs 10,000 should be paid for each extra day. Silk Smitha even gave up an offer from the prestigious AVM studios to complete Adharvam. However, Smitha didn’t take a penny more that what she had agreed in the beginning. Eerali says that paying an artist Rs 10,000 per day was a big thing during those days, as even the super stars received a remuneration of around Rs 3 lakh.
“She flew down in an early morning flight to attend my wedding. She checked into a hotel in Kochi and later came to the church to attend the ceremony. Artists like Mammootty, Yesudas, Chaaru Haasan and Jagathy Sreekumar too were at the church. Smitha watched my wedding, standing close to the door, facing everyone. People swarmed the church when they knew that Smitha was there. Later, she joined to serve the food as well. She left in the evening after attending all the ceremonies. We maintained that close friendship until her death,” recalls Eerali.
Smitha was an artist who had always longed for amazing movies and characters. That is what motivated her to take up the role of a producer. However, she couldn’t succeed as a producer and had lost all her money. Eerali says that Smitha was shattered when the people whom she thought were her friends, had cheated her. “Had there been someone to console her or hold her closer, Smitha wouldn’t have taken her own life. It is a painful fact that the fans who bid lakhs of rupees for a piece of apple that Smitha had bitten into or the cinema industry that had once queued up in front of her for her dates didn’t give her mortal remains the proper farewell or the respect that she deserved,” concludes Eerali.
Vijayalakshmi who was born in a financially backward family in the village of Eloor in Andhra Pradesh had to give up education after class four. She entered the movies as an extra actress. Though she was married off in her teenage, she still struggled with poverty. Vijayalakshmi was just a 19 year old when she debuted in the Malayalam movie Inaya Thedi directed by Antony Eastman, in 1979. Her sultry eyes and curvaceous body, however, earned her the tag of a ‘sexy siren’ in the cinema industry.
She became known as Silk Smitha after she essayed a character called Silk in the 1979 Tamil movie Vandichakram. The movie Silukku Silukku Silukku established her as a sex symbol. She became a sought after erotic actress in the 1980’s with back to back movies in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and even Bollywood. There was a time when a South Indian masala movie wasn’t released without an item number by Silk Smitha. Both the young and the old were enthralled by the beautiful dance numbers and expressive features of Smitha. However, despite all these, Smitha’s personal life was not very pleasant.
Silk Smitha soon became busier than the leading actresses during that time. The filming of movies starring super stars like Sivaji Ganeshan, Kamal Haasan, Rajnikant and Chiranjeevi were scheduled as per the availability of Silk’s dates. She appeared in more than 500 movies in just ten years. Silk began concentrating on producing movies with the arrival of new item dancers. The first two movies that she produced had bombed at the box office. Though she was hopeful about the third movie, she was severely stressed after the movie got stalled. Besides, it pushed her into a debt of whopping Rs 20 crores. Sabash that didn’t create any ripple in the box office was Smitha’s last released movie. There were reports that Silk had fallen into depression after her relationship with a young director had failed.
Silk Smitha was a talented artist who had treaded alone in the lime light of cinema. The actress who was once the key for the successes of many South Indian movies was pushed aside by the same industry. Some think that Smitha may have feared of falling into poverty again or going back to her old life. On 23 September 1996, Silk Smitha was found hanging in her apartment in Chennai.