I could never be friend with Smita Patil, Shabana Azmi

During the book launch event of Maithili Rao's book Smita Patil: A Brief Incandescence in Mumbai on October 17, veteran actress Shabana Azmi reveals about her rivalry with Smita Patil, her contemporary. At the launch, Shabana Azmi said that she regrets making uncharitable remarks about actress Smita Patil.

"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 so 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," said Ms Azmi.

At the event, Ms Patil's son Prateik introduced Ms Azmi as masi (aunt).
"Human relationships are complex and I am grateful for the trust they (Smita Patil's family) have placed in me. I remember once they called me to take care of Prateik with regard to his career," added Ms Azmi.

"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," said Ms Azmi.

Started career as a news presenter, Smita in her brief career, delivered some memorable film like Bhookika, Aakrosh, Manthan. She died in the early age of 31 in 1986.

"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 her. As a co-actor I felt both challenged and inspired by her," she 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 will always be counted when we mention names of finest actors of Indian cinema," added Ms Azmi.