Life Story and Biography of Smita Patil, recipient of two National Film Awards & a Filmfare Award

Smita Patil

Smita Patil: Bollywood actor

Smita Patil was one of the finest film, theatre & stage actors from India. She was one of the greatest film actors of all time.

She appeared in Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Kannada & Malayalam films during her very short career. 

She was recipient of two National Film Awards & a Filmfare Award. She was awarded by fourth-highest civilian award Padma Shri in 1985. In 1975, she made her film debut with Shyam Benegal’s Charandas Chor.

She became one of the leading actress of cinema. She appeared in several mainstream movies throughout her career.

She played notable roles in Manthan, Bhumika, Jait Re Jait, Bazzar, Aakrosh, Ardh Satya, Namak Halaal, Arth, Mirch Masala, Waaris & many more.

Apart from acting, she was a member of the women’s centre in Mumbai & an active feminist. She was deeply committed with women’s issues.

She tried to give them endorsement to films that 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.

Early life of Smita Patil

Smita was born on 17th October 1955 in Pune, Maharashtra. Her father Shivajirao Girdhar Patil was Maharashtrian politician & her mother Vidyatai Patil was a social worker. She was from Shirpur town of Khandesh province of Maharashtra. From childhood, she loved to participate in dramas.

She studied literature from Bombay University and she was a part of local theatre groups in Pune. Smita spent much of her time at the campus of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII). Just because of her father’s election as a cabinet minister, her family moved to Mumbai in 1969.

Personal life

Smita became romantically involved with actor Raj Babbar, she had to face criticism from her fans and the media, clouding her personal life and throwing her into the eye of a media storm.

In 1982, Raj & Smita first met on the set of Bheegi Palkein. Raj left her wife Nadira to marry Smita. On 13th December 1986, she died at the age of 31 due to childbirth complications.

Over 10 films were released after her death. Her son Prateik Babbar is a film actor. He made his film debut in 2008.

Smita was an active feminist. In Mumbai, she was a member of women’s centre. She tried to portray different women’s issues through her films. She was involved in charity work also. She donated the winnings of her first National Award to charity.

Bollywood Career of Smita Patil

In 1970s, she was genuinely a part of political cinema, it included actor Shabana Azmi.During 1980s she worked with film directors like Shyam Benegal, Govind Nihalani, Satyajit Ray, G. Aravindan, Mrinal Sen & many more.

Her character often represents an intelligent femininity that stands in relief against the conventional background of male-dominated cinema in her movies.

She was a women’s rights activist; she became famous for her roles as capable & empowered women.

Smita Patil began her career as newsreader in early 1970s on Mumbai Doordarshan. In 1974, Shyam Benegal discovered & cast her in a children film Charandas Chor.

She got her first major role in Manthan, as a Harijan woman. Just three year after her debut, she won National Film Award for Best Actress in Bhumika. In 1982, her role in ‘Arth’ opposite Shabana Azmi was greatly appreciated. Gradually she moved towards commercial cinemas.

Commercial filmmakers like Raj Khosla, B.R. Chopra & Ramesh Sippy agreed that she was an excellent actress. She played glamorous role in Shakti & Namak Halaal.

As per her sister Manya Patil Smita was never comfortable in big-budget films. She was not happy with her rain dance in Namak Halaal with Amitabh Bachchan.

Smita Patil felt that was not right thing. In 1984, Smita Patil served as a jury member of the Montreal World Film Festival.

With Raj Babbar she acted in films like Bheegi Palkein, Tajurba, Aaj Ki Awaaz, Awam and Hum Do Hamare Do.

In 1982, director C.V. Sridhar gave her role against Rajesh Khanna in Dil-E-Nadan. After the success of that film they acted together in Aakhir Kyon?, Anokha Rishta, Angaarey, Nazrana, Amrit.

Their performance together was critically acclaimed. Her film Nazrana with Sridevi became a box office success and was among the top 10 films of 1987.

Her film Mirch Masala with Ketan Mehta was released after her death in 1987. Her performance in the film was outstanding. Forbes included her performance in the film as “25 Greatest Acting Performances of Indian Cinema” in 2013.

In 1986, The Priyadarshini Acadamy started with the Smita Patil Award. listed her as the second-greatest Indian actress after Nargis in 2011.

As per Deccan Herald’s Suresh Kohli “She was perhaps the most efficient, actress of Hindi cinema with realistic performance.

The Smita Patil International Film Festival Documentaries and Shorts were initiated in her honour in 2012.

A postage stamp bearing her face was released by India Post to honour her on 3 May 2013 on 100 years of Indian cinema.

Death & legacy

On 13th December 1986, Smita died from childbirth complications at the age of 31. As per notable film director, Mrinal Sen alleged that she had died due to “gross medical negligence”. 

Awards & nominations

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She was awarded with fourth highest civilian award from Padma Shri from government of India in 1985.