Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Remembering Smita Patil

Today my mind goes back when I was just out of school ...It was the early morning of 13th December 1986. My house was full with guests who had come for my cousin’s wedding. We all had chit-chatted through the previous night and hence had slept very late. Early morning on 13th December as usual, Dad had put on the radio in full volume and I was struggling to sleep. I really didn’t want to wake up on cold chilly morning in Pune...but the radio news was blaring away. It is then the news reader read out the tragic news of Smita Patil passing away...I couldn’t believe my ears, I was up in the next instant, trying to catch the balance news in numb state. Smita Patil ,one of the most talented actresses in my time, had passed away due complications post childbirth. Then Newspaper and Radio were the only means to get news( no media circuslike today). In my growing up years say from std 8th onwards I was fortunate enough to be exposed to meaning full movies on good old DD read parallel cinema. And in those years Smita Patil made a strong impression. It was her earthy and natural acting of course that connected and also had a soft corner for her because we shared a common name and a place ( Pune) too. Her roles in Arth, Bhumika, Manthan , Mirch Masala , Jait Re Jait , Umbartha ( Marathi) , Bazaar along with commercial films like Naamak Halal and Shakti or even Ankhir Kyon , Warris etc were unparalleled . She started as news reader and went on to become the most applauded actress in just a decade. She brought in the trend of wearing Puneri Cotton Sarees or even the Irkaal Sarees in grunge style( which were worn only by construction workers then). So much so that I often went to weddings wearing sarees of same kind and often in the plain jane got evoked severe comments from my relatives like- ‘he ka lankecha parvaati sarkhi aaliye’ etc. Till date I love those kind of sarees and own a collection of them. I remember half the class running to the nearby Hiralal’s bunglow where Smita was shooting for Umbartha to catch one glimpse of The Smita Patil. I also remember having countless arguments with my friend ( Smita Sethumadhavan) on which was better Commercial Cinema or Art Cinema. My friend was a big fan of movies like Himmatwala and many other South produced movies. (my friend Smita actually added color to my life from commercial movies that she loved, I realised this much later in life and much later I stopped watching realistic cinema as it left me pained).. She was a feminist and yet she married a much married man, that evoked strong criticism against her imagery, her stand and we -Smita’s fans found it very hard to defend her then. It broke our hearts ( today of course I would say that it was none of our business but back then I was kid who idolised her). So after many years we still watch all Smita’s movies with same gusto and probably that’s why even today when I see Prateik on screen (who inherits her acting skills) I end up searching for Smita Patil in his expressive eyes and smile. This earthy and superbly talented actress who won all accolades nationally and internationally was all of just 32 years old and yet left behind an enviable body of work which remains and will remain untouched for ever..
( Disclaimer-The author has no copyright on this picture)