Smita Patil Criticized Cinema for Objectifying Courtesans 41 Years Ago

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Pune, 28th June 2024: Smita Patil, a revered name in Hindi cinema, made a lasting impact through her diverse roles and strong opinions. In a notable incident from 41 years ago, she criticized the glamorized portrayal of courtesans in films, highlighting the industry’s tendency to objectify women. Born on October 17, 1955, Smita Patil starred in over 80 films during her career, starting with “Raja Shiv Chhatrapati” in 1974. Her roles in both parallel and mainstream cinema earned her a reputation as one of the boldest actresses of her time.

Smita Patil’s dissatisfaction with the portrayal of courtesans in cinema stemmed from her belief that the real pain and struggles of these women were being ignored in favor of superficial glamor. She voiced these concerns in an interview with Prasar Bharati, where she criticized commercial cinema for focusing on the physical exposure of courtesans while neglecting the deeper issues of their lives. This critique remains relevant today, as seen in the recent controversy surrounding Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s web series “Heeramandi,” where similar objections were raised by director Vivek Agnihotri and a Pakistani user.

Reflecting on her career, Smita Patil noted the stark difference between the films she began with and the commercial movies she later encountered. The early films depicted women as strong and multifaceted, while the commercial cinema often reduced them to one-dimensional characters—either as devoted wives or as vamps. This narrow portrayal of women never sat well with her, and she used her platform to advocate for more nuanced and respectful representations.

Smita Patil’s legacy as an actress and a critic of the industry’s treatment of women continues to inspire discussions about the portrayal of women in cinema. Her work and words serve as a reminder of the importance of authenticity and depth in storytelling, especially concerning marginalized characters like courtesans.