Last Updated: September 13, 2023, 14:49 IST
Born on December 2, 1960, Silk Smitha, often hailed as the “Queen of Sensuality”, left an indelible mark on the Indian film industry with her bold and sizzling performances. Director Milan Luthria’s movie The Dirty Picture was a tribute to her life, capturing the highs and lows of her journey. It shed light on her tumultuous personal life, including her forced marriage at the tender age of 14 and the subsequent cruelty she endured from her husband and in-laws. Despite achieving tremendous professional success, Silk Smitha’s personal life was marred by trauma, and she tragically passed away at the young age of 35 on September 23, 1996.
Born Vijayalakshmi Vadlapati into a Telugu family to parents Ramallu and Sarasamma, she adopted the screen name Silk following her entry into the film industry. Her family’s financial struggles cast a shadow over her childhood, forcing her to confront numerous hardships. The dire financial situation also curtailed her education, forcing her to leave school after just the 4th grade, at the tender age of 10. Her trials continued when her parents arranged her marriage to an unknown individual, compelling her to tie the knot at the age of 14. She endured relentless torment at the hands of her husband and in-laws, ultimately leading her to escape this oppressive marriage.
Silk Smitha sought refuge in Chennai, where she found work as a makeup artist. She began frequenting film sets, immersing herself in the world of cinema and gradually making her way into minor, albeit uncredited, roles. Her life took a significant turn when filmmaker Anthony Eastman introduced her to the Malayalam film industry. Another director, Vinu Chakravarthy, played a pivotal role in shaping her career, guiding acting, dancing, and even English language skills. Silk Smitha quickly rose to fame, earning recognition for her roles in films like Moondram Pirai, Paayum Puli, and more.
While her professional life soared, her personal life was marred by setbacks. She entered into a second marriage with a doctor, who subsequently invested all her earnings in a film production that ultimately flopped, leaving Silk Smitha in dire financial straits. Tragically, on September 23, 1996, Silk Smitha was found hanging in her home. The postmortem report revealed a fatal level of alcohol consumption as the cause of her death. Reports also indicated that she had spoken to a friend just a day before her suicide.