By Anirban Bhattacharya
People woke up on Sunday morning to shocking news. Actress Sridevi, who had delighted us for over four decades with a stellar career—Sridevi, the consummate performer, Sridevi, the icon—was dead. News began to filter in- she had succumbed to a cardiac arrest on Saturday night, in Dubai where she had attended her nephew Mohit Marwah’s wedding alongside her family only days before.
Sridevi was many things—and she clearly reveled in it, going on to act and be involved in Tamil, Telegu, Hindi, Malayalam and Kannada cinema. Her extremely versatile portfolio of roles, and the awards and accolades she received stand testament to her acting prowess. Few people know that the veteran actress actually made her acting debut in 1978 in Solva Sawan. But the Bollywood film that actually catapulted her to commercial success was the Jeetendra starrer Himmatwala that came five years later.
A glorious career
I am perhaps not the only 20-something year old to remember “hawa hawai” from my childhood days. On the one hand you have the Sridevi who was worshipped by the masses for films like Mawaali (1983), Tohfa (1984), Mr India (1987) and Chandni (1989), which kept her at the top of the box-office game, and on the other, you have the Sridevi who took immense pride in her work and was lauded by critics for her performances in films like Sadma (1983), ChaalBaaz (1989), Lamhe (1991), and Gumrah (1993). Judaai, a home production co-starring her brother-in-law Anil Kapoor and Urmila Matondkar, would her last film before a self-imposed 15-year hiatus.
Gauri Shinde’s offbeat and much beloved family drama English Vinglish in 2012 marked Sridevi’s comeback and what a comeback it was! Her nuanced performance as a middle-class woman braving societal mores and learning to speak English to feel accepted by her family, won accolades as it did hearts. The film was a resounding commercial success.
The Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Akshaye Khanna starrer Mom was her next outing on a much darker topic. A revenge drama, Mom raised extremely pertinent questions on women’s rights, social justice and vigilantism, highlighting the inadequacy of the current legal system, and rape as a psychological and personal disaster. Sridevi also shot for a special appearance in Shah Rukh Khan’s next, Zero, which releases in December.
The complete woman
Sridevi was by no means a neophyte when she made her Bollywood debut- she was already a known face in South Indian films. Her first Tamil film was as a child artiste in Thunaivan in 1969 while as an adult her career spanned the 70s.
Sridevi was many things and her films are proof of that. Vigilante, seductress, detective, mother, damsel, siren, dutiful wife and homemaker—she was the complete woman. Sridevi, born Shree Amma Yanger Ayyapan on 13 August 1963, is survived by her husband Boney Kapoor and daughters Jhanvi and Khushi. Sridevi was stepmother to actor Arjun Kapoor and his sister Anshula, her husband’s children from his first wife, the late Mona Kapoor.
The enchantment of Sridevi’s eyes could and did make hearts sing, and her scintillating screen presence will ensure that she is remembered long after her passing.
Featured Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
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