Actors have two lives. The one that they show on camera, and one that they actually lead on the other side of it. Very often, we are so enamored or taken in by what is portrayed on screen, that we are blissfully oblivious to the other side of the coin.
Well, today happens to be 2nd of December, the day the much hyped “Dirty Picture” is all set to release. I’ve been wanting to write this piece for a while now, but didn’t want to club it with the in-numerous reviews that the show would invite.
First, why 2nd December? 2nd December was the day Vijaya Lakmshi was born. Vijaya Lakshmi who? Well, most people down south knew her as “Silk Smitha”. Weddings, youngster booze parties and dhinchak events even today day have “Bavalu Saiyya, Mardalu Saiyya, Rimbola Rimbola Rimbola Rimbola” on their play list, and the number still gives Sheela and Munni tracks a tough competition.
To all of us who knew Silk Smitha , during our growing years we were asked to either change the channel or shut our eyes whenever she appeared on screen because she was always an object of attention for all the wrong reasons. Her sudden death came as a shock to me. I was only ten when I read about it. All of a sudden, I started following all the news items surrounding her wondering why she would want to do this. Reasons such as lack of finances, love failure and dejection were cited.
For the uninitiated, Vijaya Lakshmi, hails from a Eluru a small town in Andhra Pradesh. Having given up education when she was in class four, she always felt a pull towards the Glamour Industry. She was initially a make up artist, who eventually migrated to becoming a small time starlet. Since she was willing to be bold and carefree with her acting, she was often cast in similar roles. In 1979, when she acted in a Tamil Movie “Vandi Chakram” where she played a bar dancer named Silk, the name stuck on with her for a life time.
In those days, makers would ensure every movie had either an item number or a short sequence with Smitha- the name she took up after she got into the industry. In fact they say, there have also been instances where makers would incorporate her sequences into their incomplete movies just to give them a boost.
However, there is nothing in this world that cannot be replicated, and when other actors were ready to do what she did in less than half the price, and go bolder she soon started losing out on work. She tried her hand at production with little success. In September 1996, she was found dead in her apartment at the age of 36 with a note mentioning financial reasons and dejection. Mystery still shrouds her death as many say her death was made to look like a suicide.
Amidst all this, people forgot Vijaya Lakshmi, the girl, the woman and the person that she perhaps wanted to be. A normal girl who wanted love, affection, time and care. Caught in the trap of the image she had created for herself that accelerated her position in terms of popularity and fame, she somehow could never again do anything else. Now when I think of it, how suffocating that must have been? While she effortlessly lured men, she had to put in that much more effort to get the very men to actually love her for who she was.
They say what is this life if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare? Smitha had men who were ready to stand and stare while she performed throwing notes at her and danced at her numbers, but when those lights shut off, she was all alone. She had no one to take back home.
Almost 16 years later when I read about a movie being made on her life I was very anxious because, of the various deaths I have seen in my life, this was one of those that actually did impact me for reasons unknown.
The ugly side of the glamour industry, failure and all the drastic measures and steps people often succumb to here are always magnified only because they become naked to outside world. You are subject to judgments speculation, humiliation while you still put up a brave face only because the audience has one thing to say “It is the price you pay for stardom“.
This is one of the many such horror stories that we read of, but for Vijaya Lakshmi aka Silk Smitha, it was life full of struggle, acceptance and constant toil. People loved her immensely, and took her on screen persona so seriously that the real VijayaLakshmi was lost somewhere in the dark! Is this a Dirty Picture or what?
We hope the audience get to finally see the real picture behind this Dirty Picture!
Niharika Vidya Sagar