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How Smita Patil Cooked For Herself on Set as Others Ate Fish

  | November 03, 2015 16:40 IST (New Delhi)
Smita Patil

Smita Patil in a still from Akaler Sandhane.

"Mrinal da being a good East Bengali had to have fish all the time. That must have turned her stomach. She used to borrow vegetables and cooking oil from the cook and made her own food on a stove," recalled actor Dhritiman Chatterjee in Smita Patil: A Brief Incandescence, a biography written on the actress

Actress Smita Patil had difficulty in getting vegetarian Marathi food, while shooting for Mrinal Sen's Akaler Sandhane in Bengal and so, she cooked her own food by borrowing vegetables and oil from the chef.
In Smita Patil: A Brief Incandescence, a biography written on the actress by author-film critic Maithili Rao, her co-star Dhritiman Chatterjee recalled that apart from Smita Patil, the entire cast and crew was resolutely non-vegetarian.
"Mrinal da being a good East Bengali had to have fish all the time. That must have turned her stomach. She used to borrow vegetables and cooking oil from the cook and made her own food on a stove," Mr Chatterjee reminisced.
Late cinematographer K K Mahajan also remembered Smita Patil cooking simple rice and vegetables for herself during the entire shoot.
Smita Patil: A Brief Incandescence tells the remarkable story of the actress, tracing it from her childhood to stardom, controversial marriage and untimely death.
Her close friends remember 'Smi' as outspoken and carefree, not beyond hurling abuses or taking off on bikes on impromptu joyrides. Filmmakers Shyam Benegal and Jabbar Patel and co-stars Om Puri and Shabana Azmi, talk about her dedication to her craft and her intuitive pursuit of that perfect take. (Also Read: Smita Patil and I Could Never Be Friends, Says Shabana Azmi)
The book also includes a critique of the films that defined her and read like a roster of the best of New Indian Cinema: Bhumika, Mandi, Manthan, Umbartha, Bhavni Bhavai, Akaler Sandhane, Chakra, Chidambaram and Mirch Masala. Maithili Rao also studies Smita Patil's many unfortunate forays into mainstream commercial cinema. (Also Read: Smita Patil 'Forced' Nana Patekar to Join Film Industry)
Highlighting the "publicity game" at Cannes, she cited an example of the 1970s, when Nishant was in the competition section at the prestigious festival. NDFC had sent some posters of the film which had not reached Cannes.
It was then that the film's director Shyam Benegal came up with an interesting idea. Shabana Azmi recalled: "He said, 'I want both of you to wear your best south Indian saris and walk the promenade from eight in the morning.' So there we were, parading in our silk saris when everyone else was in beachwear! We were such a sight! When anyone looked at us, we'd grab them and say, 'We have a screening at such and such time, please come'."

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