Shabana Azmi: Smita, I shared lot of things, but couldn't be friends

Actor Shabana Azmi has said that she "regrets" not being able to turn her association with her contemporary and 'rival' Smita Patil into friendship, despite efforts of reconciliation.

Shabana Azmi
Shabana Azmi

She was speaking last evening at the launch of Maithili Rao's book 'Smita Patil: A Brief Incandescence' here, coinciding with the late noted actress' 60th anniversary.

Shabana, who alongwith Smita became the face of 'new wave cinema' of the 1970s, said, "Smita and I could never be friends. The rivalry between us, some of it manufactured by the media and some of it real, caused tension.

"I have said it before...and I do it today...that I have been guilty about making uncharitable remarks about her. I regret it. There were efforts of reconciliation and we were able to maintain civility, but we were never able to turn into friendship. But at no point it had spilled over to our families," she added.

At the event, Smita's son Prateik introduced Shabana as "masi" (aunt).

"Human relationships are complex and I am grateful for the trust they (Smita's family) have placed in me. I remember once they called me to take care of Prateik with regard to his career," Shabana said.

The veteran actress said, "We had several similarities... same aesthetics, working in same kind of films. I think today in public memory she could be 'Smita Azmi' and I as 'Shabana Patil'. She had a short career span but today parallel cinema will not be mentioned without the name of Smita Patil."

During her brief career, Smita went on to play pivotal roles in films such as 'Bhookika', 'Aakrosh', 'Manthan'. She died in 1986, at the age of 31.

"I was struck by her raw beauty and stillness. She was born for the camera. We worked together in Shyam Benegal's "Nishant", and it was a difficult role for someone as young as a co-actor I felt both challenged and inspired by her," Shabana said.

"Smita Patil was microcosm of India. She was modern, strong, fragile and confident and vulnerable....These contradictions were her strength and weakness. Her name always will be counted when we mention names of finest actors of Indian cinema," Azmi said.

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