South film industry’s ‘sex siren’ Silk Smitha, who made her mark in films with an erotic and sensual image, was an iconic name in the 90s whose popularity knew no bounds. Known for her unapologetic choices, the yesteryear actress created a genre in cinema which didn’t exist and empowered several women.
Born as Vijayalakshmi Vadlapati, she made her acting debut in 1978, with Kananda film ‘Bedi’. She rose to fame with ‘Vandichakkaram’, where she had portrayed the character of a bar girl named Silk - which later went onto become her stage name.
Silk Smitha acted in more than 450 films, including ‘Justice Raja’, ‘Kiratham’, ‘Antham’, ‘Mafia’, ‘Lockup Death’, ‘Gentalman Security’, ‘Karma’, ‘Coimbatore Mappillai’ and ‘ Subash’.
The seductress, who was brought to life by Vidya Balan in 'The Dirty Picture', committed suicide on September 23, 1996 at her Chennai apartment. Caught in depression, she hanged herself from the ceiling fan at her residence. Silk was 36 when she took the drastic step.
While the exact reason behind her death is still unknown, several media reports claim that the actress, who tasted success at a very young age, was battling with severe depression and was also facing financial crisis. Some reports even suggest that it was the complicated love-life and disillusionment in love.
The tragic death shocked the entire South industry and left millions of fans mourning. However, the demise of the late icon didn't lead to unfair media trials and 'witch-hunts' that we witnessed in the wake of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput's suicide.
Rajput, who was reportedly battling from depression, allegedly committed suicide on June 14. He was 34.
While the Enforcement Directorate, NCB and the CBI are still investigating the death case, the unfair media trials and witch-hunts have already pronounced Chakraborty guilty. Rhea has not just faced the wrath of furious 'SSR warriors', the 28-year-old and her family has also been caused extreme trauma, courtesy to the constant sensationalisation of the case. From abusive Bhojpuri songs using filthy language against the actress to cameras zooming into her living room and her father, a retired army officer, being hounded by the media outside her building compound, Rhea has already been convicted by the media even before foul play could be established behind the actor's death.
But, it is worth noting that the men in Silk Smitha's life were not subjected to similar media trials. In fact, actor Ravichandran in an interview had revealed that Silk had tried to reach out to him the day she committed suicide.
"I was busy shooting that day (September 23, 1996) and was surprised to see Smitha trying frantically to reach me a few times. I tried to speak to her, but the call never got through due to poor connectivity. I thought it was a routine call. However the next day, to my horror, I realised that Smitha had killed herself. I shudder to think what could have been the reason for her call. This haunts even me now," the actor had said, in an interview with a Kannada channel.
While this is the perfect example of society's oppressive thought-process, much to our surprise, Rhea Chakraborty isn't the only actress who has been subjected to the witch-hunt and been called a gold digger, murderer, maneater and more. One of the finest personalities of Hindi cinema, legendary actress Rekha was also subjected to a similar media trial after the tragic death of her late husband Mukesh Aggarwal.