Goodbye Sridevi, we'll miss you: There won't be another like you
Too many childhood days have been spent in front of the mirror trying to replicate her dances.
- Total Shares
If you were a kid growing up in the 1990s, you were either Team Boyzone or Team Backstreet Boys (Boyzone forever!) or Team Sridevi or Team Madhuri (Team Sridevi any day). My shero-worship for the actress meant that I watched many of her less accomplished films too. I have seen her despise and then try to win over Anil Kapoor in Laadla and Judaai. I have seen the Nagina series and also the dud Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja (I happily danced to “Dushman Dil Ka Jo Hai Mera” for a family get-together because I bloody wanted to). I sat through Chandra Mukhi because that’s what a die-hard Sridevi fan does.
I went and watched Puli (2015) because why would you deny yourself the opportunity to see Sridevi as a maleficent queen. I always returned saying she was the best part in all of them. I was biased but if there was one actor worth rooting for blindly, it was Sridevi. There hasn’t been another ever since. There won’t be.
Too many childhood days have been spent in front of the mirror trying to replicate her dances. The desire to step out and dance in the first rain, however foolish it sounded to my parents, was only because of her. Choreographer Saroj Khan told me how it was hard to take the camera off her face because that’s how expressive she was. Many came and tried to recreate the magic. They could only try. No list can do justice to her but below are films that changed my life for the better.
Sridevi could make you laugh just by raising her eyebrows, but boy could she make you wistful! I watched this film much later, realising that my favourite actress was even more extraordinary than I thought she was. Kamal Haasan and Sridevi break your hearts in that last scene. #ReshmiandSomuForever!
Mr India (1987)
“Hawa Hawai”, “Bachhe Tere Bachhe” (called the Parody song), the Charlie Chaplin sequence are proof of Sridevi’s genius. To make your presence felt in essentially a superhero film with an ensemble of kids is no easy feat, but if someone can, it’s Sridevi. When she didn’t regale audiences by being her annoyed best, she mesmerised by swaying in that translucent blue sari to Kaante Nahi Katte. It was such a powerful act that everybody had their own invisible lover in 1987 and years after.
This retelling of Sita aur Gita was when I first came to appreciate the might of Sridevi. So assertive is her presence that it’s easy to forget her male co-stars – Sunny Deol and Rajinikanth no less – in this. Changing gears from being coy to brazen effortlessly, this was a career high in an impressive oeuvre.
The film that cemented her reputation as a superstar. This was a Sridevi show throughout. After “Hawa Hawai”, if there’s one song to remember her by, it’s “Chandni”, for which she also sang in a childlike manner. Few actresses have made themselves as vulnerable on screen as Sridevi has. The rewards on screen were rich.
Another double role that’s a masterclass in acting. The film didn’t have many admirers for what was seen as a controversial love story – a young woman (Sridevi) falls for her mother’s much older admirer (Anil Kapoor). But this underappreciated Yash Chopra film had two actors in fine form. To see the full range of Sridevi’s thespian skills, just watch the antaakshri sequence.
English Vinglish (2012)
Gauri Shinde gave the actress the comeback of a lifetime and reminded audiences what they were missing out on. As the meek housewife and mother who nurtures and loves but gets very little love or respect in return, Sridevi didn’t hit one wrong note in her performance. When her character after much prodding breaks into a dance to “Navrai Majhi”, you witness sheer joy.