Silk Smitha was South Indian cinema’s Queen of Softcore Erotica in the 1980s.
Born Vijayalakshmi to poor parents in a small Indian village, she began playing bit roles in south Indian films and adopted the screen-name Silk Smitha in 1979. Due to her dusky looks, curvaceous figure and sultry presence, she quickly became typecast as a vamp, best known for sizzling dance numbers and semi-nude scenes. By the late 80’s, she was landing non-sexual dramatic roles in Bollywood films that drew attention to her acting ability. She played in over 400 Indian films until 1996 when Silk was found dead in her bedroom at the age of 35, an apparent suicide stemming from a failed relationship, financial problems and bouts with alcoholism and depression. In 2011, Bollywood produced an unofficial biopic about the tragic sex-siren titled “The Dirty Picture”.