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Smita Patil

File:Smita Patil.jpg
Born (1955-10-17)October 17, 1955
Shirpur, Dist. Dhule, India[1][2]
Died December 13, 1986(1986-12-13) (aged 31)
Cause of death
Childbirth complications
Nationality Indian
Occupation Actress, Television newscaster
Years active 1974–1985 (death)
Notable work Manthan (1977),
Bhumika (1977),
Aakrosh (1980),
Chakra (1981),
Chidambaram (1985),
Mirch Masala (1985)
Spouse(s) Raj Babbar
Children Prateik Babbar (son)
Parent(s) Shivajirao Girdhar Patil
Vidyatai Patil

Smita Patil (17 October 1955[1] – 13 December 1986[3][4]) was an Indian actress of film, television and theatre. Regarded among the finest stage and film actresses of her times,[5] Patil appeared in over 80 [2] Hindi and Marathi films in a career that spanned just over a decade.[6] During her career, she received two National Film Awards and a Filmfare Award. She was the recipient of the Padma Shri, India's fourth-highest civilian honour in 1985.

Patil graduated from the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune and made her film debut with Shyam Benegal's[7] Charandas Chor[8] (1975). She became one of the leading actresses of parallel cinema, a New Wave movement in India cinema, though she also appeared in several mainstream movies throughout her career.[9] Her performances were often acclaimed, and her most notable roles include Manthan[1][8] (1977), Bhumika[1] (1977),[8] Aakrosh (1980), Chakra (1981), Chidambaram (1985) and Mirch Masala[10] (1985).[1][9]

Apart from acting, Patil was an active feminist (in a distinctly Indian context) and a member of the Women's Centre in Mumbai. She was deeply committed to the advancement of women's issues, and gave her endorsement to films which sought to explore the role of women in traditional Indian society, their sexuality, and the changes facing the middle-class woman in an urban milieu.[11]

Patil was married to actor Raj Babbar. She died on 13 December 1986 at the age of 31 due to childbirth complications. Over ten of her films were released after her death. Her son Prateik Babbar is a film actor who made his debut in 2008.

Early life

Smita Patil was born in Pune[12] into a Kunbi Maratha family to a Maharashtrian politician, Shivajirao Girdhar Patil and social worker mother Vidyatai Patil, from Shirpur town (Village-Bhatpure) of Khandesh province of Maharashtra State. She studied at Renuka Swaroop Memorial high school in Pune.

Her first tryst with the camera was in the 1970s as a television newscaster for Doordarshan, the Indian government owned television service.[13]


Smita Patil belongs to a generation of actresses, including Shabana Azmi and, like her, who are strongly associated with the radically political cinema of the 1970s. Her work includes films with parallel cinema directors like Shyam Benegal,[8] Govind Nihalani, Satyajit Ray (Sadgati, 1981),[4] G. Aravindan (Chidambaram, 1985) and Mrinal Sen as well as forays into the more commercial Hindi film industry cinema of Mumbai. Patil was working as a TV news reader and was also an accomplished photographer when Shyam Benegal discovered her.[14]

She was an alumna of the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune. In 1977, she won the National Award for 'Best Actress' for her performance in the Hindi film Bhumika.[10] In her films, Patil's character often represents an intelligent femininity that stands in relief against the conventional background of male-dominated cinema (films like Bhumika, Umbartha, and Bazaar). Smita Patil was a women's rights activist and became famous for her roles in films that portrayed women as capable and empowered.

"I remained committed to small cinema for about five years ... I refused all commercial offers. Around 1977-78, the small cinema movement started picking up and they needed names. I was unceremoniously dropped from a couple of projects. This was a very subtle thing but it affected me a lot. I told myself that here I am and I have not bothered to make money. I have turned down big, commercial offers because of my commitment to small cinema and what have I got in return? If they want names I'll make a name for myself. So I started and took whatever came my way."
File:Smita mm.jpg
Smita Patil as Sonbai in Mirch Masala, her last film role.

In time she was accepted by commercial filmmakers and from Raj Khosla and Ramesh Sippy to B.R. Chopra, they all agreed that she was "excellent." Her fans, too, grew with her new-found stardom. Patil's glamorous roles in her more commercial films — such as Shakti and Namak Halaal — revealed the permeable boundaries between "serious" cinema and "Hindi cinema" masala in the Hindi film industry. In 1984, she served as a jury member of the Montreal World Film Festival.[15]

Her association with artistic cinema remained strong, however. Her arguably greatest (and unfortunately final) role came when Smita re-teamed with Ketan Mehta to play the feisty and fiery Sonbai in Mirch Masala (1987). Smita won raves for playing a spirited spice-factory worker who stands up against a lecherous petty official. On the centenary of Indian cinema in April 2013, Forbes included her performance in the film on its list, "25 Greatest Acting Performances of Indian Cinema".[16]

According to film expert Rajesh Subramanian,during the making of Chakra, Smita Patil visited slums in Bombay as part of her research and it culminated in another National Award.

Personal life

When she became romantically involved with actor Raj Babbar,[17] Patil drew severe criticism from her fans and the media, clouding her personal life and throwing her into the eye of a media storm. Raj Babbar left his wife Nadira Babbar to marry Patil.[18]

Overnight, Patil was labeled a "home-breaker" by the very feminist organizations she had worked so assiduously for and became the target of barbed criticism.[19]

Death and legacy

Smita died from childbirth complications on 13 December 1986,[4] age 31, barely two weeks after having given birth to her son, Prateik Babbar.[20]

Nearly two decades later, one of India's greatest film directors, Mrinal Sen alleged that Smita Patil had died due to gross medical negligence.[21]

In 2011, listed her as the second-greatest actress of all time, behind Nargis.[22] According to Suresh Kohli from Deccan Herald, "Smita Patil was, perhaps, the most accomplished actress of Hindi cinema. Her oeuvre is outstanding, investing almost every portrayal with a powerhouse realistic performance."[23]

Awards and nominations

Award Film Character Year Result Notes
National Film Award for Best Actress Bhumika Usha/Urvashi Dalvi 1977 Won
Chakra Amma 1980 Won
Filmfare Award for Best Actress Jait Re Jait Chindhi 1978 Won Marathi film
Bhumika Usha/Urvashi Dalvi 1978 Nominated
Umbartha Sulabha Mahajan 1981 Won Marathi film
Chakra Amma 1982 Won
Bazaar Najma 1983 Nominated
Aaj Ki Aawaz Rajni Deshmukh 1985 Nominated
Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress Arth Kavita Sanyal 1984 Nominated
Mandi Zeenat 1984 Nominated
Padma Shri Award, Civilian Award by Government of India 1985


Year Film Role Other notes
1974 Mere Saath Chal Geeta
1974 Samna[3][24] Kamley Marathi film
1975 Nishant (Night's End) Rukumani[8]
1975 Charandas Chor Rajkumari (Princess)
1976 Manthan[3] Bindu
1977 Bhumika[3][25] Usha/Urvashi Dalvi Winner, National Film Award for Best Actress

Nominated, Filmfare Best Actress Award

1977 Jait Re Jait[24] Chindhi Marathi Film,Winner, 25th National Film Awards (April 1978) President's Silver Medal for Best Feature Film in Marathi.
1977 Saal Solvan Chadya Pinky Punjabi film
1978 Kondura / Anugraham Parvati Hindi / Telugu film
1978 Gaman Khairun Hussain
1978 Sarvasakshi Sujatha Marathi Film
1980 Bhavani Bhavai[1] Ujaan Gujarati (Hindi dubbed) film
1980 Aakrosh Nagi Lahanya
1980 Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Aata Hai Joan
1980 The Naxalites Ajitha
1980 Anveshane Revati[26] Kannada film
1981 Chakra Amma Double Winner, Filmfare Best Actress Award

National Film Award for Best Actress

1981 Sadgati Jhuria TV
1981 Tajurba
1982 Arth Kavita Sanyal Nominated, Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award
1982 Badle Ki Aag Bijli
1982 Bazaar Najma Nominated, Filmfare Best Actress Award
1982 Bheegi Palkein Shanti
1982 Dard Ka Rishta Dr. Anuradha
1982 Dil-E-Nadaan Sheela
1982 Namak Halaal Poonam
1982 Shakti Roma Devi
1982 Sitam Meenakshi
1982 Subah Dubbed from the original Marathi film Umbartha
1982 Umbartha[1][3] Sulabha Mahajan Marathi Film, Dubbed as Subah in Hindi

Winner, Marathi Rajya Chitrapat Puraskar for Best Actress

1983 Mandi Zeenat[8] Nominated, Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award
1983 Ghungroo Kesarbai
1983 Ardh Satya[3][25] Jyotsna Gokhale
1983 Qayamat Shashi
1983 Haadsa Asha
1983 Chatpati
1984 Aaj Ki Aawaz Rajni Deshmukh Nominated, Filmfare Best Actress Award
1984 Raavan Ganga
1984 Pet Pyaar Aur Paap
1984 Meraa Dost Meraa Dushman Lali
1984 Tarang[3] Janki
1984 Shapath Shanti
1984 Kanoon Meri Mutthi Mein
1984 Giddh: The Vulture Hanumi
1984 Anand Aur Anand Kiran
1984 Farishta Kashibai
1984 Hum Do Hamare Do
1984 Kasam Paida Karne Wale Ki Aarti
1985 Chidambaram[3] Shivagami Malayalam film
1985 Ghulami Sumitra Sultan Singh
1985 Debshishu Seeta Bengali film [27]
1985 Aakhir Kyon? Nisha
1985 Meraa Ghar Mere Bachche Geeta Bhargav
1985 Jawaab Rajni / Radha Gupta / Fredi Martis / Salma Hussain
1986 Aap Ke Saath Ganga
1986 Amrit Kamla Shrivastav
1986 Dilwaala Sumitra Devi
1986 Dehleez Deepa
1986 Angaarey Arti Varma
1986 Kaanch Ki Deewar Nisha
1986 Anokha Rishta Dr. Pramila
1986 Teesra Kinara
1987 Mirch Masala Sonbai
1987 Dance Dance Radha
1987 Thikana Shashi Goel
1987 Sutradhar Prerna
1987 Insaniyat Ke Dushman Lakshmi Nath
1987 Ahsaan
1987 Raahee Rano/Sandhya
1987 Nazrana Mukta
1987 Avam Dr. Shabnam
1987 Sher Shivaji
1988 Waaris Paramjit
1988 Hum Farishte Nahin Roma
1988 Akarshan - Special Appearance
1989 Galiyon Ke Badshah Tulsi

Government recognition

On the occasion of 100 years of the Indian cinema, a postage stamp bearing her face was released by India Post to honour her on 3 May 2013.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Subodh Kapoor (1 July 2002). The Indian Encyclopaedia: Biographical, Historical, Religious, Administrative, Ethnological, Commercial and Scientific. Indo-Pak War-Kamla Karri. Cosmo Publication. pp. 6699–. ISBN 978-81-7755-257-7. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 D. Sharma (1 January 2004). Mass Communication : Theory & Practice In The 21St Century. Deep & Deep Publications. pp. 298–. ISBN 978-81-7629-507-9. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 Annette Kuhn (1990). The Women's Companion to International Film. University of California Press. pp. 310–. ISBN 978-0-520-08879-5. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Andrew Robinson (1989). Satyajit Ray: The Inner Eye. University of California Press. pp. 258–. ISBN 978-0-520-06946-6. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  5. "A blazing talent remembered". The Hindu. Dec 20, 2002. 
  6. Gulzar; Nihalani, Govind; Chatterji, Saibal (2003). Encyclopaedia of Hindi Cinema. Popular Prakashan. p. 601. ISBN 81-7991-066-0. 
  7. Si. Vi Subbārāvu (2007). Hyderabad: the social context of industrialisation, 1875-1948. Orient Blackswan. pp. 82–. ISBN 978-81-250-1608-3. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 William van der Heide (12 June 2006). Bollywood Babylon: Interviews with Shyam Benegal. Berg. pp. 208–. ISBN 978-1-84520-405-1. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 Lahiri, Monojit (2002-12-20). "A blazing talent remembered". The Hindu. Retrieved 2011-02-01. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Hena Naqvi (1 January 2007). Journalism And Mass Communication. Upkar Prakashan. pp. 202–. ISBN 978-81-7482-108-9. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  11. [1] "Reminiscing About Smita Patil"
  13. Gulazāra; Govind Nihalani; Saibal Chatterjee (2003). Encyclopaedia of Hindi Cinema: An Enchanting Close-Up of India's Hindi Cinema. Popular Prakashan. pp. 625–. ISBN 978-81-7991-066-5. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  14. "Indian Cinema - Smita Patil", SSCnet UCLA
  15. "Awards of the Montreal World Film Festival - 1984". Montreal World Film Festival. Retrieved 13 March 2014. 
  16. Prasad, Shishir; Ramnath, N. S.; Mitter, Sohini (27 April 2013). "25 Greatest Acting Performances of Indian Cinema". Forbes. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  17. "'She was a great human being'". 13 December 2006. Retrieved 27 Dec 2011. 
  18. "'25 years on, a phenomenon named Smita Patil '". 13 December 2006. Retrieved 27 Dec 2011. 
  19. "'A blazing talent remembered'". 13 December 2006. Retrieved 20 Dec 2002. 
  20. Ram Awatar Agnihotri (1998). Film stars in Indian politics. Commonwealth Publishers. ISBN 978-81-7169-506-5. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  21. "Memories from Mrinal da",, 2 February 2005.
  22. Sen, Raja (2011-06-29). "Readers Choice: The Greatest Actresses of all time". Retrieved 2011-09-22. 
  23. Kohli, Suresh (2011-09-22). "Immortal performances". Deccan Herald. Retrieved 2011-09-22. 
  24. 24.0 24.1 Marathi Cinema Database
  25. 25.0 25.1 Anwar Huda (1 January 2004). Art And Science Of Cinema. Atlantic Publishers & Dist. pp. 52–. ISBN 978-81-269-0348-1. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  26. Anveshane Movie Plot
  27. Debashishu

External links

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