Smita Patil death anniversary: Remembering a rare talent

On the 30th anniversary of Patil’s untimely death today (13 December), presents a compilation of some remarkable scenes of the actress which remind us why she was considered among the finest actresses of her generation.

Sonal Pandya

Actress Smita Patil died on 13 December 1986, just two weeks after her son Prateik was born. A former news reader and a Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) graduate, Patil joined films with Mere Saath Chal (1974). Three years later, she won her first National award for best actress with Shyam Benegal’s Bhumika (1977). The film, based on the memoirs of Marathi actress Hansa Wadkar, gave Patil the opportunity to age from a teenager to a middle-aged woman.

Patil took on roles in different languages from Gujarati (Bhavani Bhavai in 1980), Marathi (Umbartha in 1982) to Malayalam (Chidambaram in 1985) and within a decade established herself as one of the finest actresses working in the country. While she was mostly known for her dramatic performances in the new wave of parallel cinema like Chakra (1981) and Bazaar (1982), Patil appeared in typical commercial Hindi cinema as well, when she acted opposite Amitabh Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor in Namak Halal (1982) and Ghungroo (1983).

Another one of her memorable roles was in Mahesh Bhatt’s Arth (1982) where she acted with Shabana Azmi and Kulbhushan Kharbanda. In the semi-autobiographical film, Patil played an actress, Kavita, who enters a relationship with a married filmmaker only to regret her actions later. The film also reveals that Kavita is also battling with schizophrenia as well. Her final film role was in Ketan Mehta’s Mirch Masala (1987) in which she played the resilient Sonbai who refuses to bow down to Naseeruddin Shah’s subedar who lusts after her.

In her short career of twelve years, Patil became that rare talent who could immerse herself in any role.

Watch the video below:

Video edited by Ankit Tripathi