Smita Patil – the realistic actress of bollywood.
Smita Patil is the realistic actress that bollywood had ever produced. She destroyed the myth that actresses require mannerisms to attract the attention of the viewers. The characters that she had played over the years had become immortal by her powerful performance. She stormed the silver screen with her serene performance in Shyam Benegal’s film Manthan, where the miseries of the life of workers involved in milk production in western India was depicted.
Within short period of time she became the main actress of all directors who made realistic films. In Satyajit Ray’s Satgati, she played the role of the wife of Om Puri, who cremated dead bodies by profession. Being a member of lower caste he was exploited by the zamindar of the village played by Mohan Agase. Smita Patil was the silent observer who witnessed the oppression which led to ultimately the death of Om Puri. Prem Chand’s immortal story was elegantly directed by Ray, one of the greatest directors of the world.
In Akrosh, directed by Govind Nihalini, she played the role of the wife of Om Puri, who was a worker in an industry in a village. The employers killed Smita Patil and falsely charged Om Puri for the murder. Nasiruddin Shah, played the role of the defense lawyer tried to save Om Puri, but Om Puri could not help him as his tongue was cut by the employers. The film depicted the oppression of the poor, uneducated rural population in the Indian villages, how the employers had succeeded in tampering evidence. Om Puri, Nasiruddin Shah, Smita Patil and Amrish Puri, were at their best in the film.
While performing in realistic films, Smita Patil also contributed in commercially successful films like Shakti, Namakhalal, etc. In Shakti, she was the wife of Big B, and the daughter-in –law of Dilip Kumar. She balanced the difference of opinions of big B and Dilip Kumar, as Dilip Kumar, was a dutiful police officer and ultimately had to shoot his son Big B as he was involved with unlawful activities. Rakhee also acted very well in the role of Dilip Kumar’s wife. Smita Patil again stormed the silver screen in the film Mirch Masala directed by Ketan Mehta, where she being a village woman was wanted by the subedar played by Nasiruddin Shah and had to take shelter in a factory which manufactured chillies. Om Puri, the old gate keeper, alone, fought against the forces and was killed. Then Smita Patil poured the chillies in the face of Nassiruddin Shah, showing the beginning of revolt in the village. She was even sublime in the film Akaler Sandhane directed by Mrinal Sen. Other than Shabana Azmi, no other actress had shown the depth of acting that Smita Patil had shown and that is evident when both of the them performed in the same film, for example Arth, directed by Mahesh Bhatt. Actresses of the present generation should learn a lot from the immortal performances of Smita Patil to show that acting is creative art, like other creative arts, including singing or painting.
By: CR Chatterji.