Silk Smitha

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Silk Smitha
Silk Smitha.jpg
Native name సిల్క్ స్మిత
Born Vijayalakshmi
(1960-12-02)2 December 1960
Eluru, Andhra Pradesh, India
Died 23 September 1996(1996-09-23) (aged 35)
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Cause of death Suicide
Nationality Indian
Occupation Film actress
Years active 1979–1996
Parent(s) Ramallu, Sarasamma

Vijayalakshmi Vadlapati (2 December 1960 – 23 September 1996), better known by her stage name Silk Smitha, was an Indian film actress who worked predominantly in South Indian films.[1] She entered the industry as a side[2] actress and first got noticed for her role as "Silk" in the 1979 Tamil film Vandichakkaram. She became a major sex symbol and the most sought-after erotic actress in the 1980s.[3] In a career spanning 17 years, she appeared in over 450 films in Malayalam, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Hindi languages. On 23 September 1996, she was found dead in her apartment in Chennai, apparently having committed suicide.

Early life[edit]

Smitha was born in a Telugu family to Ramallu and Sarasamma in Eluru. She left school after her fourth standard (in India, at about 10 years of age) due to the family's financial constraints. Her striking looks burdened her with uninvited attention, and her family married her off at a very young age. When she was ill-treated by her husband and in-laws, she ran away to Madras (now known as Chennai) and started living with an aunt.[4][5]


Smitha started as a touch-up artist for an actress and soon got a break in small character roles.[4] Later she was discovered by Vinu Chakravarthy, director at a flour mill near AVM studios. He changed her name to Smitha and took her under his wing; his wife taught her English and arranged for her to learn dancing,[6][7] though soon, due to her marked sex appeal, she switched to roles of cabaret dancers and vamps and inevitably found herself typecast.[4] After garnering much notice and acclaim with her first major role in the Tamil film Vandichakkaram,[8] in 1979, Smitha assumed the screen name "Silk", after her character's name in the movie.[9][10] After it became a big hit, she could not escape typecasting, severely limiting her range throughout her career.[4]

Smitha went on to star in Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada and a few Hindi films. Her dance numbers and bold performances in films like Moondru Mugam made her the ultimate symbol of sensuality in South Indian cinema. Her item numbers in films like Amaran, Hallimeshtru Kannada were also celebrated at the box office. Some film critics, historians and journalists have referred to her as a "soft porn" actress.[11] A vast majority of her movies are considered 'softcore' by Indian standards and a common theme is her playing a freakishly strong agent in skimpy bikinis beating up huge thugs. Her acting prowess did not go completely unnoticed, and in her rare non-sexual roles she impressed critics and audiences, such as her portrayal of a wife hurt by her role in her husband's rape of their maid (which she passively allowed by not preventing him from entering the maid's bathroom and standing "guard" during the shameful act, to prevent embarrassment to their family) and when she poignantly admitted her mistake in her confrontation of her husband in Alaigal Oivathillai (1981).[4] One of her films, Layanam (1989), has earned a cult status in the Indian adult film industry and was dubbed in numerous languages, including Hindi (Reshma Ki Jawani, 2002), which, too, acquired cult status.[4][12] Her most respected film is Moondram Pirai by Balu Mahendra, remade in Hindi as Sadma, with much of the top-drawer cast, including Sridevi, Kamal Hassan, and Silk Smitha reprising their roles.[13]

Such was her audience-drawing power that, at the peak of her career, according to Tamil film historian Randor Guy, "Films that had lain in cans for years were sold by the simple addition of a Silk Smitha song."[4]

Personal life[edit]

Silk Smitha had a small circle of close friends. She was an introvert and did not make friends very quickly with anyone that easily. She is also known for her short temper and straightforwardness, which some mistakenly took for arrogance. In reality, she was punctual (arriving in movie sets way before the shooting commences), responsible, and very ambitious (having learned to speak the English language fluently despite her limited education). She is also described as having a 'soft' and 'child like' personality by her close friends and fans. She was very skilled with make up and made it her profession before entering the industry. She was naturally beautiful and well known for her doe like eyes, golden complexion, and physique.


On the night of September 22, 1996 she had contacted her friend, dancer Anuradha, to discuss a matter that was disturbing her. Anuradha said she could not come during the night, as her husband would be coming home shortly, but would meet her in the morning.

In the morning of September 23, 1996, Smitha was found dead in her Chennai home, much to the shock of her fans. The reason behind her death remains a mystery. Some believe it was suicide, due to depression over her debt accumulated from producing movies, while others call it foul play.[14][15]

Selected filmography[edit]

year movie Role Language
1979 Inaye Thedi Malayalam
1979 Vandichakkaram Silk as bar girl Tamil
1979 Pushyaraagam Malayalam
1979 Ottapettavar Malayalam
1980 Karimbana Malayalam
1980 Saraswatheeyaamam Malayalam
1980 Ivar Malayalam
1980 Rajaneegandhi Sheela Malayalam
1981 Avatharam Thankamani Malayalam
1981 Vayal Parvathi Malayalam
1981 Alaigal Oivathillai Tamil
1981 Seethakoka Chiluka Telugu
1981 Sneham Oru Pravaaham Malayalam
1981 Pinneyum Pookkunna Kaadu Malayalam
1981 Needhi Pizhaithathu Tamil
1982 Yamakinkarudu Telugu
1982 Moondram Pirai Headmaster's wife Tamil
1982 Theeram Thedunna Thira Malayalam
1982 Sagalakala Vallavan Lalitha Tamil
1982 Parvaiyin Marupakkam Anitha Tamil
1982 Pattanathu Rajakkal Tamil
1982 Thanikattu Raja Tamil
1982 Ranga Ravi's girlfriend Tamil
1982 Neram Vandhachu Rekha Tamil
1982 Theerpu Tamil
1982 Sivantha Kankal Tamil
1982 Kaalan Malayalam
1982 Moondru Mugam Tamil
1982 Kozhi Koovuthu Chittu Tamil
1983 Paayum Puli Tamil
1983 Thudikkum Karangal Tamil
1983 Sadma Soni Hindi
1983 Thai Veedu Tamil
1983 Adutha Varisu Tamil
1983 Thambathigal Tamil
1983 Justice Raja Item dancer Malayalam
1983 Nizhal Moodiya Nirangal Malayalam
1983 Attakkalasam Malayalam
1983 Eettappuli Rani Malayalam
1983 Snehabandham Malayalam
1983 Prathigna Malayalam
1983 Rathilayam Rathi Malayalam
1983 Thanga Magan Tamil
1983 Khaidi Telugu
1983 Jeet Hamaari Soni Hindi
1983 Jaani Dost Laila Hindi
1983 Silk Silk Silk Tamil
1983 Soorakottai Singakutti Tamil
1983 Gudachari No.1 Telugu
1983 Roshagadu Telugu
1984 Challenge Priyamvada Telugu
1984 Rustum Telugu
1984 Idavelakku Shesham Dolly Malayalam
1984 Abhimanyudu Telugu
1984 Hero Telugu
1984 Agni Gundam Telugu
1984 Neenga Kettavai Tamil
1984 Vaazhkai Tamil
1984 Kairasikkaran Aisha Tamil
1984 Prachanda Kulla Kannada
1984 Niraparaadhi Malayalam
1984 Umanilayam Reena Malayalam
1984 Bullet Shobha Malayalam
1985 Ottayan Rani Malayalam
1985 Revenge Geetha Malayalam
1985 Chorakku Chora C.I.D Silk Malayalam
1985 Jeevante Jeevan Malayalam
1985 Kiratham Dancer Malayalam
1985 Prathikarajwaala Malayalam
1985 Chattamtho Poratam Telugu
1985 Shri Datta Darshanam Telugu
1985 Donga Telugu
1986 Rakshasudu Telugu
1986 Kirathakudu Hamsa Telugu
1986 Annoru Raavil Malayalam
1986 Urukku Manushyan Malayalam
1986 Pensimham Malayalam
1986 Kulambadikal Malayalam
1987 Aalappirandhavan Tamil
1987 Cooliekkaran Tamil
1988 Khaidi No.786 Telugu
1988 Jeeva Tamil
1988 Paatti Sollai Thattathe Anushiya Tamil
1989 Miss Pamela Malayalam
1989 Layanam Malayalam
1989 Andru Peytha Mazhaiyil Capri Tamil
1989 Adharvam Ponni Malayalam
1989 Praayapoorthiyaayavarkku Maathram Malayalam
1989 Pick Pocket Tamil
1989 New Year Malayalam
1989 Sonthakkaran Sudha Tamil
1989 Geethanjali Guest appearance in song Telugu
1990 Adhisaya Manithan Tamil
1990 Shesham Screenil Malayalam
1990 Naale Ennundekil Jyothi Malayalam
1990 Avasara Police 100 Amulu Tamil
1990 Sunday 7 PM Sherly Malayalam
1990 Bamma Maata Bangaru Baata Anasuya Telugu
1991 Aditya 369 Rajanarthaki Nandini Telugu
1991 Thalattu Ketkuthamma Dr. Mary Tamil
1991 Chaitanya Smitha Telugu
1991 Thambikku Oru Paattu Tamil
1991 Onnum Theriyatha Pappa Tamil
1991 Idhayam Tamil
1992 Amaran Area Girl Tamil
1992 Deiva Kuzhanthai Kuyilu Tamil
1992 Kizhakku Veluthachu Alamelu Tamil
1992 Naadody Malayalam
1992 Vasudha Malayalam
1992 Rishi Malayalam
1992 Halli Meshtru Kannada
1992 Antham bar dancer Telugu
1992 Pangali Tamil
1993 Sabash Babu Tamil
1993 Nallathe Nadakkum Ramadevi Tamil
1993 Bava Bavamaridi Chintamani Telugu
1993 Saakshaal Sreeman Chaatthunni Herself Malayalam
1993 Kunthi puthrudu Telugu
1993 Govindha Govindha Guest Appearance in song Telugu
1993 Mafia Item Dance Malayalam
1993 Aadhityan Manga Tamil
1993 Ulle Veliye Tamil
1993 Alimayya Kannada
1993 Rakshana Telugu
1993 Muta Mestri Telugu
1994 Oru Vasantha Geetham Tamil
1994 Athiradi Padai Tamil
1994 Palnati Pourusham Bala Telugu
1994 Maro Quit India Telugu
1994 CID Unnikrishnan BA BED Malayalam
1994 Chinna Kannada
1994 Lockup Death Item Number Kannada
1994 Gentleman Security Item Dance Malayalam
1994 May Madham Palakkattu Machanukku song (Guest Appearance) Tamil
1994 Hero Tamil
1995 Chilakapachcha Kaapuram Telugu
1995 Lucky Man Tamil
1995 Villadhi Villain Tamil
1995 Hijack Dalia Malayalam
1995 Spadikam Laila Malayalam
1995 Mazhavil Koodaram Rathi Teacher Malayalam
1995 Special Squard Madhumathi Malayalam
1995 Karma Item Dancer Malayalam
1995 Kaattile Thadi Thevarude Aana Malayalam
1995 Thumboli Kadappuram Clara Malayalam
1995 Three Men Army Item Dancer Malayalam
1995 Arabikadaloram Vaishali Malayalam
1996 Coimbatore Mappillai item Number Tamil
1996 Pallivathukkal Thommichan Kathreena Malayalam
1996 Sugavaasam Malayalam
1996 Sulthan Hyderali Volga Malayalam
1996 Kireedamillatha Rajakkanmar Rajamma Malayalam
1996 Aavathum Pennale Azhivathum Pennale item Number Tamil
1996 Pacha Thoranam KanyaKumari Telugu
1996 Maa Aavida Collector Telugu
1996 Kishkinda Kaanda Telugu
1996 Time Bomb Malayalam, Hindi[16]
1996 Subash item Number Tamil


In 2011, a biographical film on Silk Smitha's life, titled The Dirty Picture, was produced in Hindi by Ekta Kapoor. The movie was directed by Milan Luthria[17] and starred Vidya Balan (who later won National Film Award for Best Actress). The movie was released on Smitha's birthday (2 December 2011) and received favourable reviews. Reports suggest that the family of Silk Smitha, on whom the film is based, is not happy with the movie. Smitha's brother V Naga Vara Prasad claimed the film was made without the family's consent.[18] After the claim, Ekta Kapoor immediately changed her statement by quoting The Dirty Picture is not based on Silk Smitha's life.[19]

However, in 2013, a Kannada film titled Dirty Picture: Silk Sakkath Hot starring Pakistani actress Veena Malik was released. The film was based on Silk Smitha and Veena Malik was praised for her performance in the film. The film was a huge hit in Karnataka.

A Malayalam film titled Climax starring Sana Khan as Silk Smitha released on 24 May 2013.


  1. ^ Zainab Mulla (2 December 2014). "Silk Smitha Happy Birthday: Top song videos of the bad girl of Southern cinema!". Retrieved 14 June 2016. 
  2. ^ Anupama Chopra (28 September 2011). "Why Silk Smitha is Bollywood's favourite bad girl". NDTV Movies. Archived from the original on 29 September 2011. 
  3. ^ "The mysterious death of India's biggest sex symbol Silk Smitha". 23 February 2015. Retrieved 15 August 2017. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Silk Route: Ekta Kapoor's forthcoming film 'The Dirty Picture' revisits a sequins-and-pelvic-thrust era of Tamil cinema". Mint. 30 September 2011. 
  5. ^ Kuldip, Hussain (26 September 1996). "Obituary". The Independent cited in BNET. Archived from the original on 17 October 2007. Retrieved 9 November 2006. 
  6. ^ "Chronicle of a death foretold". Rediff India Abroad. 4 April 1997. Retrieved 2 January 2009. 
  7. ^ Chronicle of a death foretold Rediff 4 April 1997
  8. ^ "கவர்ச்சி நடனத்தால் ரசிகர்களைக் கவர்ந்த 'சில்க்' சுமிதா தூக்கில் தொங்கினார்". 22 September 1996. Archived from the original on 17 December 2013. Retrieved 14 February 2014. 
  9. ^ Staff Correspondent, Name= Pradeep (26 October 2006). "Some reel-life role models". Deccan Herald. Retrieved 9 November 2006. 
  10. ^ Vicky Lalwani (21 February 2011). "Ekta slams Silk Smitha's boyfriend". The Times of India. 
  11. ^ Sebastian, Name= (6 March 2005). "Magic workers". The Hindu. Retrieved 9 November 2006. 
  12. ^ Bhattacharya, Name= Roshmila (8 November 2002). "Sex Sells". Screen Weekly. Retrieved 9 November 2006. 
  13. ^ Ashok Kumar, Name= SR (6 September 2006). "A saga of success". The Hindu. Retrieved 9 November 2006. 
  14. ^ "'சுமிதாவுக்கு திருமணத்தில் நம்பிக்கை இல்லை': 'சில்க்' சுமிதாவின் காதலர் பேட்டி". Archived from the original on 21 December 2013. Retrieved 14 February 2014. 
  15. ^ "'எனக்கு வாழ்க்கை தருவதாக". Archived from the original on 14 January 2014. Retrieved 14 February 2014. 
  16. ^ "Time Bomb (1996)". Retrieved 15 August 2017. 
  17. ^ "Vidya's nothing like Silk". Pune Times of India. 2 September 2011. 
  18. ^ "'The Dirty Picture' irks Silk's kin". Retrieved 23 October 2012. 
  19. ^ "THE DIRTY PICTURE is not about Silk Smitha! – Bollywood news". 7 November 2011. Retrieved 23 October 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Ashish Rajadhyaksha, Encyclopedia of Indian Cinema, Oxford University Press, 1994 (ISBN 0-85170-669-X)
  • Roopa Swaminathan, Star Dust: Vignettes from the Fringes of the Film Industry, Penguin, 2004 (ISBN 0-14-303243-7)
  • Suparna Bhaskaran, Made in India: Decolonizations, Queer Sexualities, Trans/National Projects, Palgrave Macmillan, 2004 (ISBN 1-4039-6726-1)

External links[edit]