For every 90’s kid, Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit were like on-screen goddesses. We grew up imitating their fashion, dialogues and most importantly their dance steps.
The news of Sridevi’s sudden demise affected me just like millions of her fans across the world. The reason that I loved her during my childhood was because she entertained me, whether it was as Charlie Chaplin in “Mr.India” or painting Rohini Hattangadi’s face in “Chaal Baaz”, or her mesmerising dance in “Chandini” and “Chand Ka Tukda”.
She was unlike many of today’s stars, no wonder she was called the first female super star of Bollywood. When I saw her films as a five or six year old child, I was extremely fascinated by her powerful screen presence. No doubt the screen play and writing during that time had quality, but Sridevi did justice to every single minute of her screen presence. I do not remember a single movie or scene where she was used just as a show piece unlike the actresses of today’s era.
I was always fascinated by her as a child and today as a film student I watch her movies with a different point of view. I see her as a perfect actor. Today, before a movie is released, the PR team goes haywire about the amount of research and preparation an actor or actress goes through for a particular role, but with Sridevi, everything seemed so effortless.
She was more of a teacher than an actress. One of her boldest roles I would say would be in the movie “Judaai”, where she sells her husband for money because of her greed. As a 10-year-old, it was too early for me to understand the impact of marriage but at the end of the movie I understood, that being greedy and loosing relationships is expensive.
When she played double roles, like in “Chalbaaz” or “Lamhe”, she ensured that the two characters had two different personalities. Whether it was the scared, suppressed Anju or the bold and bindaass Manju, who went on fight against her sister’s tormentors, or whether it was Pallavi, the princess, who made the young Kunwar fall in love with her as well as her teenage daughter, who immaturely fell in love with the same Kunwar.
One of the most admirable things about Sridevi was that even though she worked with almost all the superstars male leads in Bollywood, from Amitabh Bachan to Rajnikanth, yet she owned the film in her own way. Today, when I look back and watch “Chaalbaaz”, despite having two of the most famous male actors, Rajnikanth and Sunny Deol, Sridevi took the cake away with her acting skills. Her movies always had strong characters, but they never screamed their strength unlike in today’s movies.
Today if a popular male actor just makes a cameo in a movie, he might even be paid more than the leading actress. But with Sridevi, it did not matter who starred opposite her – she always owned the movie. She had the best judgment of scripts and characters and which is why probably she chose a movie like “English Vinglish” for her comeback. It is one of the movies that I always watch, whenever I feel low. Her character, Shashi, is just a phase in everyone’s life, but Shashi taught us how to come out of that phase. I just have one thing to say to you ma’am.
“Jab apne aapko pasand nahi karte toh apne se judi hui har cheez achi nahi lagti, na hi cheezein aakarshit karti hain. Jab apne aapko pyar karne lagte ho, toh wahi purani zindagi nayi lagne lagti hai, achi lagne lagti hain. (When you don’t like yourself, you don’t like anything that is associated with you, and nothing seems attractive. But when you love yourself, then the same old life feels new again and you start liking it.)”
Thank you, Sridevi mujhe apne aap se pyaar karna sikhane ke liye (Thank you, Sridevi for teaching me how to love myself.)
I do not have the courage to write anything beyond this.