Smita Patil’s sudden death on 13 December 1986 was the single-most shocking tragedy faced by the Hindi entertainment film industry. It was so unexpected that nobody knew how to handle it, least of Smita’s close relatives and friends. An aftermath of the tragedy was the unfinished projects that the great actress left behind. Most important among them was director Ravindra Peepat’s literary adaptation Waaris where Smita played the central role. She had finished her shooting but her dubbing was yet to be done.
After her sudden demise the question being asked was, who would dub for Smita? Shabana Azmi who was considered the late actress’ most formidable competition in the arthouse genre was the logical choice for the dubbing .Shabana did offer to do the needful. And the film’s producers seemed happy to have her vocal support.
But then the enigmatic elusive Rekha stepped into the picture.
Apparently she expressed a desire to dub for Smita. And she got the privilege of giving voice to the great actress in her last performance.
The irony didn’t escape those who were close to Smita . Rekha had a brief but tumultuous relationship with Smita’s husband Raj Babbar. Was this the mysterious Madame Re’s way of seeking atonement? Who knows why she does what she does? But when Waaris released Rekha’s voice for Smita Patil didn’t seem appropriate at all. It was as though the great late actress’ voice had been muffled.