After Vidya Balan made the entire country watch and love a Bollywood movie headlined by an actress in 2011’s The Dirty Picture, a movie based on the life of Silk Smitha, one of the most popular actresses in the country who featured predominantly in erotic films. After the success of The Dirty Picture, a lot of doors opened for Hindi film heroines of the current generation. Taking a step forward in this direction is Richa Chadha who is all set to helm the biopic of Shakeela, a popular adult film actress from Kerala who acted in several adult films in languages spanning Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada during the ’90s.

The movie is based on Shakeela’s life from when she entered the film business at the age of 16 and traces her life journey from there.

Here are some facts about her life you probably didn’t know –

She made her debut at the age of 20 as a supporting actress in the Tamil film Playgirls which starred Silk Smitha.

Shakeela’s first successful film as the lead actress was a 2000 Malayalam soft porn film called Kinnarathumbikal.

Soon after Shakeela became a raging success in cinema halls making history like and fanfare like never before. Her films weren’t only dubbed in languages across India but also were dubbed languages Chinese, Nepalese and several others.

“I was sacrificed by my parents” – In an interview to a Kannada TV channel, she spoke about the early hardships she’s had to deal with in life. Coming from a family of six siblings, she said it was her parents who decided that she would have to run the house.

Shakeela often speaks about not being very happy with the tag of a ‘sex symbol’ that was bestowed on her early in her career.

In an article by The Hindu called – Smut Glut, the journalist noted how soft-porn films in Kerala were better known as “Shakeela films”, even after her retirement.

Silk Smitha was her inspiration. In an interview to Times of India, Shakeela spoke at length about the late superstar –

Silk Smitha was my inspiration back then. I admired her a lot and aspired to do glamorous roles better than her. My first movie was with her, and I played her sister. I have seen her acting in two-piece outfits and short skirts. It inspired me to take up similar roles on screen in a much more glamorous way. Initially, there were restrictions from my family – they asked me not to wear skimpy outfits and sleeveless attires, but at the end of the day, we needed money.

A character based on Shakeela featured in The Dirty Picture as well. She was pitched as Silk’s rival and successor. The role was played by Arya Banerjee.

As per an article on the, at one time, the box-office collections of her movies used to rival the money made by films starring superstars like Mammootty and Mohanlal.

She’s making her comeback after a long, long time with the Telugu movie Seelavathi soon.

Talking about this project, Richa’s spokesperson has said –

The film is the story of Shakeela, one of the most famous actors from Malayalam cinema from the 90s who rose to a spectacular amount of fame. Her fans were spread across Asia and she earned fanfare as a woman which back then was unheard of. The film’s script was exciting and is a great story to tell and the story will make for a great watch for the audience. The preparations will begin soon and the film should be going on floors in end April or May.

The film is being directed by Indrajit Lankesh. The film will go on floors this April and will release early 2019.