Sridevi shows way for second stab at stardom

It's generally believed that Bollywood actresses who settle for matrimony never get a second stab at stardom.

But Sridevi's return in the sitcom "Malini Iyer" six years after retirement brings to mind other successful comebacks in Hindi cinema.

At the peak of her career, the immortal Nutan bid adieu to the screen to marry a naval officer. Though she was blissfully content being a housewife, it's believed that her husband was keen to see her back at work. When the great Bimal Roy offered her the role of a lifetime in "Bandini", it was an offer Nutan couldn't resist.

"Bandini" today remains Nutan's most cherished film. She continued to make her presence felt in strong author-backed roles right until her death.

Although the film industry is fiercely male-centric, Sharmila Tagore is another marquee queen who had her best innings after marriage. Having had a wonderful hold at the top, she tied the knot with cricketer Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, only to return with "Aradhana", a turning point in the actress' career.

Dimple Kapadia married the reigning superstar Rajesh Khanna in 1973 just when she was the heartthrob of millions after the release of "Bobby". Six years and two daughters later, she left her husband to return to acting.

Though her first comeback film "Zakhmi Sher" was a disaster, with Ramesh Sippy's "Sagar", Dimple made a grand return and continued to accept strong histrionic challenges right up till "Dil Chahta Hai" in 2001 and "Leela" in 2002.

The sensitive Raakhee chucked her blossoming career as a reigning queen to be Gulzar's wife in 1973. A year later, Yash Chopra tempted her back to celluloid with a role that he had specially written for the actress in "Kabhi Kabhi". Husband Gulzar gave her the option of marriage or career.

Raakhee chose the latter, and returned with triumphant colours.

While such actresses have serenaded the marquee successfully the second time, not all heroines have made equally successful comebacks.

Amrita Singh, Rati Agnihotri and Poonam Dhillon, who were fairly successful in the 1980s, made feeble comebacks.

While Amrita after a frail comeback as Bobby Deol's mother in "23 March 1931 Shaheed" has returned to domesticity, Rati plays the glamorous mom off and on while Poonam is content to do television.

While several actresses have returned to their careers after unsuccessful marriages, Sridevi's case is unique.

Sridevi not only has her producer husband Boney Kapoor's active support but also a whole nation hankering to see her back.

Not too many leading ladies have had this kind of a wonderful welcome on their return. Mumtaz, who was a superstar until her marriage in 1974, made a decision to return in 1990 with David Dhawan's uncharacteristic non-comedy "Aandhiyan". A mother-son story written specially for Mumtaz, the film was a miserable failure.

The curiosity to see Sridevi back on screen has been constant. After her retirement with "Judaai", she was supposed to return in her husband Boney Kapoor's "Shakti" but opted for motherhood. The role went to Karisma Kapoor.

It's generally noticed that post-marriage actress' careers get sluggish if not altogether stymied. But Sridevi's electric presence remains unaltered.

Filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma, an ardent Sridevi fan, exclaims: "It's like she had never left!"