This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Tina Sequeira. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Sridevi: She Came, She Saw, She Conquered!

More from Tina Sequeira

At first, I thought that the news was a hoax. But when the news actually turned out to be true, it took some time to register. It still feels so unreal. For some, death comes like a prince who walks in through your door. For others, death is like a thief who you never anticipate. It reminds you that life is a precious gift and it’s all temporary.

Anyway, I still remember my first Hindi film at the age of five. It was “Disco Dancer” and I was a Mithun-Mandakini fan then. But the next movie I watched completely changed my preferences for life. It was “Mr. India”. I was mesmerised by Sridevi´s histrionics on-screen. Since then, I have never seen any other actress come close to Sridevi’s versatility or her electrifying screen presence.

Growing up in the southern part of India, one couldn’t escape the Sridevi frenzy. She was everywhere – on posters, theatre halls, newspapers, billboards. She rubbed her shoulders with the who’s who of the southern film industry and in most cases, she was actually far better than most male superstars.

Sridevi has and will always be the greatest Indian actress for me. Comedy is one of the hardest things to portray onscreen and Sridevi had the best comic timing as an actress. Think of her as Charlie Chaplin in Mr.India! Her iconic roles in “Moondram Pirai” (Sadma’s original version in Tamil), “Sigappu Rojakkal”, “16 Vayathinile/Padaharella Vayasu”, “Lamhe”, “Mr. India”, “Chaalbaaz”, “English Vinglish”, “Laadla”, “Judaai”, “Mom”, “Chandni”, “Khuda Gawah”, “Kshana Kshanam”, “Jagadaka Veerudi Athiloka Sundari” and more will always be remembered. The National award winning song “Sendura Poove” from “16 Vayathinile” forayed her entry as a lead actress in south Indian cinema. 

Sridevi was an institution in acting. Unlike others who go to acting and drama schools to hone the craft, Sridevi was a natural, effortless and spontaneous actor. Born to a Tamilian father and Andhraite mother, she made her inroads into acting in the illustrious Malayalam film industry reputed for its realistic cinema at the tender age of four.

The fact is that she continued to be at the ‘top of her game’ until her sudden death at 54. She played mature roles befitting her age onscreen in “English Vinglish” and “Mom”. I thought she was like fine wine when it came to acting. She was only getting better and better at her craft.

Little wonder then that she was the first choice for the role of Sivagami in “Bahubali”. I still think that had it not been for the misunderstandings during the pre-negotiations, she would have done a much better job than Ramya Krishna. Ramya Krishna was no doubt good but no one comes anywhere close to Sridevi when it comes to acting.

I loved how she clarified all the Bahubali related controversies with such dignity and grace. In a Telugu interview, she clarified how she never made the alleged demands. Sridevi was someone who never courted controversies or made callous remarks about any of her co-stars. She had a deep sense of respect for her profession and the acting community at large.

I remember her last movie “Mom” so vividly, especially one particular scene where she breaks down in the hospital after seeing her raped step-daughter. I remember my movie review where I wrote that talent has no expiry date. In less than a year, she’s gone to another world. But her work remains iconic and immortal. How I wish Sridevi were alive and we’d see more of this powerhouse of talent onscreen. In commercial potboilers, produced by Karan Johar, Yash Raj films, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, as well as in offbeat indie movies such as “English Vinglish”.

The fact that she acted with the best of male actors, directors and producers in the country in different regional languages and genres is a testimony to her acting calibre. She was the most-sought after actress not just for her acting talent but also for her professionalism and gracious attitude. If Sridevi was phenomenal on-screen, she was a recluse off-screen. It took a lot for her to really open up.

On the professional front, she never bragged about her talent – she never claimed to be the greatest actress alive. She never talked ill of any of her contemporaries. You will find other actors and actress who do that.  In fact, she acted with many of her female contemporaries with no insecurities whatsoever – be it Jayaprada, Rekha, Meenakshi Seshadri and more. She always praised the youngsters for their acting talent – be it Kajol, Kareena or Kangana.

The fact that she was comfortable acting with her male and female contemporaries alike and praised younger actors speaks volumes about her unassuming nature. She was not an insecure actress at all trying to ensure that the spotlight fell only on her and no one else. Neither was she apologetic about herself. She had a quiet confidence or the right kind of confidence, I must say. She had no PR team actively campaigning for her brand image. She loved being in front of the arc-lights and coming alive on screen. She did her job quietly and went back home. Her work spoke the loudest for her.

Like a true lioness, she didn’t have to prove her mettle to the world. The world could see it for themselves. Kamal Hassan couldn’t have said it better about Sridevi in this interview where he described her as a blotting paper. 

A lot has been said about her personal life. All I can say is that it takes two to tango. While all fingers point towards her for being the ‘other woman’, the truth is that Boney Kapoor had been pursuing her since the 1970s. He was completely besotted by her.

Personally, as her die-hard fan, I loved her raw unaltered face as well. Yes, even the pre-plastic surgery stubby nose because I loved her talent more than her looks. Yes, she had beautiful big expressive eyes, a cherubic face and she oozed sex-appeal! But what made her stand tall and different from any other actress was her in-born acting talent, versatility and charisma. I also understand the need and pressure for actors to resort to plastic surgery to stay in the game. Almost all actors have resorted to some kind of physical alteration at some point of time in their acting career. Sridevi, the actress, was always reinventing herself and changing with the times.

When she became a mother, she didn’t think twice before giving up the arc lights. She enjoyed being the demure homemaker for 15 years and being a doting wife and mother. I loved how unconventional she was as a mother. She seemed more like a friend figure to her daughters. I loved how she gave her daughters the liberty to be themselves. She was a fantastic mother.

I remember the controversy that Jhanvi Kapoor found herself to be in when news reports came up about her starstruck behaviour around Ranbir Kapoor and how she clammed herself in her bedroom after reading about it. Sridevi immediately came to her daughter´s defence and one could see the protective motherly side of her.

She spoke often about her daughter´s marriages and was eagerly looking forward to Jhanvi’s film debut. Alas, she won’t be around to witness these life-events, at least in her earthly avataar. She would have made a fire-cracking grandmother, defying all societal norms, even at the age of 90 if she were alive.

We live in an age where National Awards are given away like candies to much less-deserving actors and actresses who don’t hold a candle to Sridevi´s talent. I’m sorry but a mere Padma Shri award is not sufficient for the powerhouse of talent that she was. Films for which she truly deserved the National Award were “Moondram Pirai”, “Sadma” and “Lamhe”. In fact, if there was anyone who deserved the maximum number of National Awards, it was her! In that respect, I feel Sridevi was highly underrated as an actress.

It’s a shame really, because Sridevi was the real deal compared to the overhyped multiple award winners and so-called actors today. She could play any role and shine even in a C or D grade film. One can never say she was bad in any film. Such was her undeniable talent!

Her sensuous “Kate Nahin Kat Te” song from “Mr. India” could put Sunny Leone to shame. All the modern day actors, be it Kajol, Kareena or Kangana, are mere imitators or clones of her style. For an untrained dancer, Sridevi was very good in the dancing department as well. There are actresses who are remembered for different things – some for their beauty, some for their dancing abilities, some for their size zero, some for their numerous awards. But there will be none who comes close to Sridevi. Please show me one actress who ruled the roost like a queen in so many different states, languages and genres. Sridevi was a complete actress and her shoes will be impossible to fill. She will sorely be missed on the big screen.

In conclusion, I am sharing one of my favourite songs, featuring Sridevi and Kamal Hassan. It was composed by musician Ilayaraja, with lyrics by Gulzaar and sung by S Janaki. I also thought she paired best with Kamal Hassan onscreen. It was such a treat to watch two equally talented actors share the screen together.

RIP Sridevi! The real ‘Queen’ of acting in Indian cinema!

You must be to comment.

More from Tina Sequeira

Similar Posts

By Vanshika Gadekar

By Yusuf Abidin

By Ranjeet Menon

    If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

      If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        Wondering what to write about?

        Here are some topics to get you started

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

        Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

        Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

        The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

        Read more about his campaign.

        Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

        Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

        Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

        Read more about her campaign.

        MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

        With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Read more about her campaign. 

        A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

        As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Find out more about the campaign here.

        A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

        She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

        The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

        As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

        Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

        Find out more about her campaign here.

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

        A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

        Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

        A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
        biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

        Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
        campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

        Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below