Discussion in 'Movies' started by Vasuma09, Jul 1, 2012.
You had a dream debut, as the heroine in an MGR film. How did it happen?
I was still in school. R S Manohar, who was a villain in Tamil movies, saw photographs of a dance performance of mine and showed them to MGR who was in search of a new heroine then. They called me, but my mother refused permission. Somehow she did not like the idea of her daughter acting in movies. But Mr Manohar persisted. He tried his best to persuade my mother. He even told her, 'An opportunity like this will never come.' Which was indeed true. When others were longing to be MGR's heroine, without any effort, the opportunity fell into my lap. I wanted my mother to agree because I was very interested in acting.
Was films an ambition since you were a child? Or, was it because the offer was for an MGR film?
I had always been interested. I started learning dance as a child and dancing kindled my interest in movies.
Were you not scared to have such an ambition, because as you said, your mother did not like you acting in films?
No, I had this desire to dance and act. My aunt, my mother's elder sister, was a heroine in Hindi movies, Kamala Kotnis. She had acted with people like Dev Anand and was the only person who encouraged me. With her support, I gathered courage and told my mother that I wanted to act.
Was there any resistance from her?
Yes, initially. She did not want me to join films at all. I tried until she agreed. Finally, she had no choice but agree.
Did you realise then that you were going to be MGR's heroine?
Everything happened like a dream, very fast. Even before I could realise that I was acting in a movie, that too opposite MGR, I was abroad shooting for it. I was very shy and very conscious of myself in those days. In the first two movies, I was extremely nervous to act with MGR.
But he was very helpful, teaching me and giving me the nuances of acting, dialogue delivery, etc. He even gave me tips on dancing. He is my mentor, philosopher and guide.
How did he appear to you when you first met him?
He was very, very normal like any other human being. Only I was scared of him. I was so scared of him that he used to ask me, 'Shall I change the hero so that you will be comfortable? Why are you so scared of me?'
How was your first day of shooting? Was it not Ulakam Sutrum Valiban?
We first went to Singapore. Along with MGR, his wife Janaki also was there. She took good care of all of us, Chandrakala, Manjula, myself, etc. The shooting trip was more like an excursion to all of us. I was only fifteen years old then. Since myself and Manjula were of the same age, we had a lovely time and enjoyed ourselves. We became good friends too.
Till you entered the scene, was it not Jayalalitha who was MGR's heroine?
Yes, Jayalalitha was acting in a number of movies with him then.
Did it occur to you then why he changed his heroine?
Why should I think about it? He might have needed a change. How do I know?
You never thought about all that?
No.... I was too young to understand all that.
Did you meet her in those days?
Once or twice, I think. At some functions, that's all.
How was she then? Was she friendly with you?
She was very cold. I also did not bother.
You were his heroine in his last movie, were you not?
I was his heroine in all his last movies. Even after he became the chief minister, he shot for a couple of movies and I was the heroine.
By then you also might have matured.
Yes, of course, I had grown up and also got many awards.
MGR was like a demi-god to many people. Do you remember how his fans used to behave in front of him?
He was not a demi-god. He was like a god to people. They used to really worship him. But he was extremely kind to all of them, very helpful too. He treated all alike, it did not make any difference to him whether they are stars or workers.
I still remember an incident. We were shooting in Ooty then and quite a few workers did not have sweaters and it was very cold. Immediately he bought sweaters for all of them, from his own money. He was very, very humane.
Were you interested in politics then? I have heard that you were also a member of the AIADMK.
I was interested in politics. That was why I joined the party. In fact I was one of the founder members of the AIADMK.
Did MGR ask you to join the party?
He asked whether I'd like to join the party. I agreed. I did work for the party during the first two elections before it came to power. I travelled all over, gave dance performances and collected funds for the party. Sometimes I even spoke on stage. But then he wanted me to take active part in politics. I couldn't do that because I was working in severalmovies.
Were you more interested in films than politics?
Yes, I couldn't concentrate on both. There were two options before me, give up movies and become an active member, or continue acting. At that stage of my career, I couldn't give movies up because I loved acting and my heart was in movies. My ambition was to act in many more movies, give good performances. So, I declined then.
How did he respond? Was he angry or disappointed?
He took it in the right spirit and told me, 'Whenever you feel like taking active part in politics, you can come over.'
You continued being a member of the party.
Yes. But not an active member. I kept myself away from politics so that I could concentrate on movies.
Was MGR disappointed because you preferred an acting career to politics?
Of course, he was. He said, you are smart and intelligent, and such people should come into politics. In 1986, he asked me again. In the meantime I had married and was living in Singapore. I came back to India when my mother passed away. MGR came to our house when he came to know about her sad demise. He again asked me, 'Are you interested?' I was not free then because my children were very small. I didn't want to abandon them when they needed me most. I always feel whatever I do, I have to do it with sincerity. Now when people asked me...
How did it happen? All these years you were away not only from politics but also the limelight. Everyone was surprised to hear about your entry into politics. Did Thirunavukkarasu ask you?
Yes, he did speak to me. He told me in detail about the plight of the party. I also knew what was happening to the party as I was very much here. The way she (Jayalalitha) behaved was very bad. And think of the amount of faith people had in her! People really expected her to do something good for the state and the country. But she spoiled everything.
Did you also expect her to perform well?
Yes, I did. I thought she would be different from other politicians. But she turned out to be the worst. She spoiled the party, she ruled the party according to her whims and fancies. In fact, she destroyed the party. She kicked out all the MGR followers so that the party would be hers.
Did anyone approach you when she was the chief minister?
Yes, they did. But I couldn't take those offers then. Now when they approached me, when I was free, I thought it is the right time to enter into active politics. I am not joining the party when it is in power. I am joining the party when it is in a bad shape. Nobody will accuse me of coming into politics for power.
For that matter, MGR would have given me any post or any portfolio if I had asked him. But I was not interested in any post or portfolio and I still am not interested. I just want to work for the party and build the party from its damaged position. The party is so disorganised now.
How will you be able to achieve that? You have no experience in active politics.
You learn. And, all of us have to sit and work out a strategy.
How long did it take you to come to a decision?
One week.... ten days. I wanted to think whether I would be able to do justice or not. I didn't want to take a decision in a hurry and then just fade away. I thought for several days and finally came to this decision
The personal life of Srividhya was not anywhere closer to the cheerful and smiling mother in good spirits that she portrayed onscreen. After her marital relationship turned sour with George, she retreated herself for a while and is even believed to have lived in temples. Rubbing salt to the already sore wound was her husband’s claim for her property. Although Srividhya won the case quite later, the mental agony that she endured during that period ruined her career and ultimately her peace of mind.
Her life in deathbed was even traumatic. As the world knows, she died of a cancer attack without many to take care of her when she was counting her days in the deathbed.
SILK SMITHA STORY
Silk Smitha, the sultry actress and B-grade movie queen from South India, has a rags to riches story, which will be essayed by Vidya Balan for Dirty Picture. Silk Smitha’s real name was Vijayalakshmi, she was born on December 2, 1960. Her active period where she flourished as an item girl and seductress was between 1979 and 1996. Silk Smitha died at the age of 35 on September 23,1996 having committed suicide.
Silk Smitha also known as Silk Sumitha, was born in a poor family, in Eluru, Andhra Pradesh. Due to financial problems in the family, she had to drop out of school in fourths standard itself. She blossomed to grow as a sultry looking girl and she was constantly propositioned and physically ‘exploited’ by men, which is why Vijayalakshmi’s parents married her off at a very young age. However, the ill-treatment from her husband and in-laws made Silk Smitha leave her husband’s home and move over to Madras where she lived with her aunt.
Silk began her career as a touch-up girl to B-grade actresses in B-grade films and then got break in small character roles. Vinu Chakravathy, a director chanced up her in a flour-mill and found that she had potential for bigger things. He renamed Vijayalakshmi as ‘Silk’; his wife taught her English. The girl proved to be a fast learner and she even took dancing lessons from another teacher.
In 1979, Silk Smitha got a role in a Malayalam film called ‘Inaye Thedi’; her sex appeal found her a lot of takers who wanted to star as a cabaret dancer or vamp in their films. Soon, she began to get typecast in these films. In the same year in 1979, Silk got her major role in a Tamil film called ‘Vandi Chakkaram’ and the movie was a superhit. The character that she played was also called ‘Silk’, so Vijayalakshmi as she was known to everyone, changed her name forever to ‘Silk Smitha’. But her sensous appeal and dusky skin gave her only movies where she was to play the seductress, the vamp or the cabaret dancer, limting her choice in roles.
Silk Smitha began to drop her clothes to get more attention and attention she did get, as she became most men’s secret fantasy in the 80s as she flourished rapidly in Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam cinema. Her dance numbers and bold sequences had men eating out of her palms, so much that they would buy tickets only to watch Silk Smitha. She was indeed a hot property who would outshine the heroine too. Silk Smitha truly was the first red-hot item girl, but then critics dismissed her as a cheap actress. Most of her subsequent movies had the softcore appeal while in some she would be a cheap version of a desi-Bond girl wearing bikinis and strutting her stuff .
Silk Smitha’s signature rolling of tongue, biting of her lower lip, looking at her lover in a trance-like manner through hazy, sultry eyes and her voluptuous figure had the junta rushing to the movies with a pretext of watching the film, while the real reason was to check her out. Silk Smitha would charge as much as Rs. 50000 per dance sequence and she would do two or even three sequences in a day. There was even a movie called Silk, Silk , Silk where Silk Smitha played a triple role. In less than 10 years of her entry, Silk Smitha had done 500 films which included A, B and C grade films.
But there was much more to Silk Smitha beyond her sex appeal, she was an accomplished actress too. Some of the best performances of Silk Smitha are in movies like Alaigal Oivathillai (1981) where she played the role of a neglected wife who is hurt by her husband’s infidelity. Writer Jerry Pinto says, “Watch Silk Smitha’s sequences and you will find a sense of lingering sorrow. It’s almost as if there were two Silk Smithas there: One watching her own self dance, detached and dispassionate about being put through these calisthenics.”,
Layanam (1989) is one of the most famous adult films in India and it starred Silk Smitha in her sizzling best. The movie was dubbed in many languages across the country including in Hindi as Reshma ki Jawani (2002). Most people know about Silk Smitha’s sensuous yet brilliant performance as a woman who has a huge crush on Kamal Hassan in Balu Mahendra’s Moondram Pirai, which was remade as Sadma. Silk Smitha had fulfilled her dream of working with A-grade stars, she had brushed with the best of male stars in her time, Shivaji Ganeshan, Rajnikanth, Kamal Hassan, Chiranjeevi and Mithun Chakraborthy.