Sridevi : The diva, the enigma, who spread her infectious ‘chandini’ and gave those immortal ‘lamhe’.
Sridevi (Shree Amma Yanger Ayyapan) has fallen prey to the cruel destiny. She died of a cardiac arrest in Dubai. She was 54. From a child wonder at the age of four to a girl-woman of the 1970s, to the queen of the matinees in the 90s to a comeback queen in the current 20’s, no Indian actress has maintained such a steady hold on her followers that span decades, generations, languages and genders with sheer acting powers.
Born to a Tamil father and Telugu mother on 13 August 1963 in Tamil Nadu, Sridevi is a household name since decades, she was born in Tamil Nadu but was actually a god send gift to the silver screen.
At a time when insecurity and uncertainty looms over stardom and history of miserable comebacks of an icon like Amitabh Bachchan (MRITYUDAATA) and diva like Madhuri Dixit (AA NACHLE), the marvelous comeback of Sridevi in Gauri Shinde’s ENGLISH VINGLISH is a lesson on how legends should plan their comeback and shed inhibitions of their image while doing so. Sridevi who never had an expert training in dancing, is a role model in bollywood dancing and considered as a dance icon. In ENGLISH VINGLISH she only shook a leg for a short span of time and dominated the entire proceeding with her sheer acting brilliance.
She had the most immaculate understanding of the character and knew exactly how the character will behave in a given situation. Like dancing, Sridevi didn,t had a proper training in acting and when she excelled in SADMA as the mentally challenged girl, she was at par with the acting power house Kamal Haasan. It’s impossible to imagine SADMA without Sridevi, if Sridevi had faulted in displaying that childlike innocence and that magical comic timing laced with mannerisms which only she can do, SADMA wouldn’t have been the masterpiece that it is.
Sridevi had full faith in director Balu Mahendru, she followed his instructions and gave an immortal performance. In the current world of acting workshops and actors going through intense preparations and case study for a role, Sridevi did the role of a mentally challenged girl in SADMA without meeting any mentally challenged person. Call it magic, god gift, charisma or whatever, Sridevi as an actor knew exactly what the character wants from her.
Sridevi was a shy personality who preferred to stay away from the media, in spite of her personal life which had its shares of turmoil. The alleged affair with Mithun Chakraborty, her marriage with Boney Kapoor, being tagged as ‘thunder thighs’ when HIMMATWALA became a hit, the media went overboard but she maintained her habitual silence.
But once the camera was on, Sridevi was a different person, the actress who achieved the status of a female superstar in Indian cinema ruled Bollywood for decades starting with HIMMATWALA (1983). When Sridevi debuted with SOLVA SAWAN in 1979, she was unable to understand a single word in Hindi and later went on to demand a remuneration of about 1 crore in those times. She bagged double roles in movies starring Amitabh Bachchan ( KHUDA GAWAH) also in the remake of SEETA AUR GEETA – CHANDINI that starred Rajiniknath and Sunny Deol both super stars, this only speaks volumes of her popularity and super stardom.
Perhaps the only actress who can display versatile shades in a single film, in MR. INDIA, Sridevi was sensuous in ‘kate nahi katate’, bubbly and mischievous with all her trade mark mannerisms in ‘hawa hawai’, and pitch perfect in her comic timings as Charlie Chaplin in that hilarious scene from this film. Jokingly many people during those times said that the title of Mr. India should have been ‘Mrs. India’. In GUMRAH that also starred Sanjay Dutt, Sridevi with her powerful portrayal won hearts of the cinegoers. In LAMHE, she played the role of a women and an eighteen year old with remarkable conviction. Be it a movie starring Sridevi in lead or not, her presence in the film was enough to draw crowds to theaters.
Pain, joy, sorrow, anger, love, passion, innocence and laughter, Sridevi gave a walking, talking, laughing and dancing example to the word called ‘effortlessness’ with glee in flesh and blood. Diving into the oceans of human expressions, the actress without much formal training had the incredible quality to find that ‘pearl’ of brilliance like an expert diver every now and then.
Just say the word ‘Sridevi’ and a collage of on screen reincarnations will fill your heart – CHALLBAAZ, LAMHE, CHANDINI, NAGINA, SADMA etc, etc, the hazel brown eyes, the angelic cherubic face, the sing song voice with childlike innocence, the most incredible combo of an innocence face in a beautiful body that dances like a dream and expresses with outstanding brilliance on screen be it vulnerability or amazing maturity, Sridevi is a complete package, a complete actor and a solid performer. Versatility has been her ‘bharamaastra’ (weapon) since ages that has killed the criticism surrounding her. There would be no one like Sridevi ever. But alas her Brahmastra failed to defeat destiny.
How come destiny be so cruel to such an icon and inspiration who has had a gloriously illustrated career spanning 50 years on the 35th anniversary of HIMMATWALA today – 25 th February 2018.. the movie that brought Sridevi to stardom in Bollywood.
How fate can take such a bizarre turn for Boney Kapoor and family, Sridevi passed away just before a few months are left for her daughter Jhanvi’s debut movie DHADAK to release?. Its saddening to find that Boney Kapoor’s first wife Mona, died a couple of months before the release of her son Arjun Kapoor’s debut ISHAQZAADE? The unexpected, unwanted and untimely end of Sridevi on the 35th anniversary of HIMMATWALA is terribly shocking.
Sridevi reportedly had no history of any heart ailment. She clicked pictures at nephew Mohit Marwah’s wedding in Dubai where she reportedly collapsed in the hotel bathroom.
It will take time for the Kapoor’s who in a state of shock and grief, similarly for the countless followers of Sridevi to recover from the disturbing news.
After the condolence messages, Sridevi’s iconic songs and scenes will be played to lighten the mood in remembrance of the true diva who encouraged us to dance, made us happy and entertained.
The last rites will be performed when her body will be flown to Mumbai and when the smoke will go up in flames into the cloud, the ‘chandini’ (moonlight) of silver screen will embrace the chand (moon) in the sky but the immortal ‘lamhe’ the chandini ( Sridevi) has left for us will remain as they turn immortal. I have always believed that people never go, one day they decide to ‘stay’ forever. Sridevi – the eternal diva, the enigma, has not gone, ‘chandini’ (moonlight, happiness, joy, inspiration, hope) never goes it comes at every desirable ‘lamhe’.
Sridevi has not gone, The ‘chandini’ has decided to stay forever.