After battling advanced ovarian cancer for the past six years, veteran Marathi actress Smita Talwalkar (59) passed away in the early hours on Wednesday.
Veteran Marathi actress Smita Talwalkar, who passed away on Wednesday, was one of the founding members of the city-based Asmita Chitra Academy. File Pic
Starting from her first role in the 1986 film, Tu Saubhagyavati Ho, Talwalkar is best remembered for her numerous roles on stage and on screen, with movies such as Chaukat Raja, Checkmate, Ek Hoti Wadi, Janma and Prem Mhanje Prem Mhanje Prem Asta to her credit. She also turned producer for films and TV series, and had directed a film as well.
Smita Talwalkar’s son and daughter, Amber and Aarti (both in blue) attend her funeral at Dadar crematorium yesterday
With her passing, however, it is not just her work that her friends and co-actors remember, but also her deep connection with Pune, where she had co-founded the acting school, Asmita Chitra Academy.
MNS chief Raj Thackeray at the funeral
She had visited the academy as recently as two months ago, just before she was hospitalised, recalled Ranjana Dharadhar, who is not only the co-founder of Asmita Chitra Academy, but is also Talwalkar’s childhood friend and the mother of her daughter-in-law.
Veteran Marathi actress Suhas Joshi pays her last respects
“Two months ago, she had come to the academy to judge the students for a competition. She had not been feeling well then, and was nauseous. But, she still judged almost all the students and no one found out that she was not well,” said Dharadhar.
Talwalkar’s daughter Aarti, daughter-in-law Surekha and actress Nina Kulkarni at the crematorium. Pics/Shadab Khan
“She was a dedicated actress and also a good person at heart. When she was informed that she had cancer, she was the one who consoled me, as I was more scared than her. We used to share a lot of things with each other as friends. We used to take our grandchildren out for walks; I will miss doing that with her,” she added.
Mrunal Kulkarni, Marathi actress, director and producer, had always looked up to Talwalkar. She said, “I want to be like Smita tai; she was my inspiration. She used to work for 48 hours at a stretch. I’m sure she never slept; we only ever saw her working, but she still always looked happy.
“She had cast me in the lead role in the TV serial Avantika, which was very popular. Initially, I was not ready to play the role, as my child was still very young and I wanted to stay at home, in Pune. So, she said she would shoot in Pune.
She was always 100 per cent sure of what she wanted, and so success was bound to come to her,” said Kulkarni.
Marathi actress and dancer, Sharvari Jamenis, added, “The one thing I will always remember about her is her enthusiasm. Whenever we would call her, she would sound happy. Even after the cancer was detected, she was always happy and worked a lot.”
Jamenis added, “She was very dedicated to work and there was a lot of social awareness which could be seen in her work. She started working as a producer when very few female producers were there, so it was challenging for her. But, she faced them all and emerged a great person.”
Actor Pushkar Jog remembers Talwalkar as a teacher. He said, “I had worked with her as a child actor, and she was a very good teacher and human. She taught me about lights and camera. She always explained things very well.”