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Smita Patil was one of the most intense heroines of Hindi cinema. Her first film was Shyam Benegal's
Nishant (1974). Her other notable films were Manthan (1976),
Bhumika (1976), Anugraham (1978), Kondura (1978),
Akaler Sandhane (1980), Bhavni Bhavai (1980), Aakrosh (1980),
Sadgati (1981), Gaman, Subah (1982), Chakra (1980),
Arth (1982), Ardh Satya (1983), Mandi (1983),
Tarang (1984), Mirch Masala (1985), Chidambaram (1985) and
Aap Ke Saath (1986). She won three national awards in Bhumika (1977),
Chakra and Umbartha (Marathi).
Alongside Shabhana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah, and Om Puri, Smita Patil was an integral part of the New Indian cinema. In what was a unusual honour for an actress who was then less than 30 years of age, and had been working in the cinema for less than 10 years, her work was celebrated at the festival of La Rochelle and by the French cinematheque in 1984. She died on December 15, 1986 of viral encephalitis. Her talent as a photographer has only been recently discovered after the 1992 exhibition of her photographs, Through the eyes of Smita, at the National Centre for the Performing Arts, Bombay.