Powerhouse performer Smita Patil passed away at the age of 31, leaving everyone shocked.
Part of the super quartet of the parallel cinema movement of Hindi films, including Shabana Azmi, Om Puri and Naseeruddin Shah, Smita made her film debut with in 1974 in a Hindi film called Mere Saath Chal. However, it was in Shyam Benegal’s directorial Nishant (1975) that her smouldering intensity brought her into sharp focus. She followed it up with stellar performances in films like Manthan (1976), Bhumika (1977), Gaman (1978), Aakrosh (1980), Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Aata Hai (1980), Arth (1982), Bazaar (1982), Ardh Satya and Mandi (1983) to name a few.
She was among the few actors who made a seamless transition from realistic cinema into glamorous Bollywood. While Mahesh Bhatt-directed Arth was the first of such roles, she soon followed it up with hits like Namak Halaal (1982), Shakti (1982) and Mirch Masala (1987). During her acting career, she was honoured with a number of awards including two National Film Awards and was a recipient of the Padma Shri in 1985.
In commercial cinema, she formed a winning combination with Amitabh Bachchan and was reportedly close to him. A day before his near-fatal accident in 1983 on the sets of Coolie in Bangalore, she had had a foreboding — she had had a bad dream about him and told him so.
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In 2015, while releasing a book on Smita called Smita Patil: A Brief Incandescence by Maithili Rao, Amitabh had been quoted by PTI as saying, “I was in Bangalore shooting for Coolie once. Late into the night at around 2 am I received call in my hotel room. The receptionist informed me that it was Smita Patil on the line. I was shocked as I had never spoken or talked to her at such a time. Thinking that it would be important one, I answered. Smita asked me if I was alright and in good health. I answered yes and she said that she just had a bad dream about me and that’s the reason behind calling up so late in the night. The next day I had my accident.”
Her affair and later marriage to Raj Babbar was hotly debated in the gossip columns of the day.