24th February 2018 was a shocking day for the world because Sridev, the first female superstar of Bollywood passed away. There are no words to convey the depth of pain felt by the fans worldwide.
Sridevi, born on 13th August 1963 began her acting as a child at the tender age of 4. She continued to act in the southern films such as in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada films. Then went on to make her Bollywood debut at the age of 9 with Rani Mera Naam (1972). However, at this time, her focus was mainly in the southern movies.
She got her first Bollywood breakthrough with the 1983 film Himmatwala opposite Jeetendra. From there, she established herself as one of the most successful actresses from 1983 – 1997. She married film producer Boney Kapoor in 1996.
Her ability to fit into any role established her as a versatile actor. From acting the role of a child-woman suffering from amnesia in Sadma (1983) to an “icchadhaari naagin” or shape-shifting woman in Nagina (1986 and its sequel in 1989) to a goofy crime journalist in Mr India (1987) to a greedy housewife who sells her husband in Judaai (1997). During this time she played double roles as twins in Chalbaaz (1990) and as mother and daughter in Nagina, Lamhe (1992) and Khuda Gawah (1993). After taking a break of 6 years, Sridevi came back starting with the television series Malini Iyer (2004 – 2005) and appearing in TV shows.
Sridevi came back to acting in films with more mature roles. She worked in Gauri Shinde’s debut film English Vinglish in 2012 about an Indian housewife who is mocked by her husband and daughter for not knowing the English language. She also acted in the Tamil fantasy action adventure film Puli (2015) which was her last Tamil film. Her last film before her death was from her home production titled Mom (2017), a thriller about a woman seeking vengeance for the raping of her stepdaughter. It was her 300th film.
Her untimely death was due to accidental drowning in the bathtub of her hotel room in Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel in Dubai. According to her childhood friend Pinky Reddy, Sridevi was suffering from fever and was on antibiotics. However, she still went to Dubai to attend the wedding of Boney Kapoor’s newphew Mohit Marwah.
I can’t remember how many of her movies I have personally watched. Despite the presence of other actresses, most especially Madhuri Dixit she still outshone them all. No other actress has had such a wide spectrum of roles as Sridevi had. She was the epitome of beauty and grace who had many hit songs like “Naino mein Sapna” (Himmatwala), “Hawa Hawai” (Mr India) and “Mere Hathon Mein Nau Nau Choodiyan” (Chandni). She also had a sensual song “Kaate Nahin Kat Te” in Mr India. Wearing a blue sari for the song she proved that a woman doesn’t need to be half naked to be sexy.
She also had the opportunity to work with many successful actors from the older ones like Jeetendra, Dharmendra, Rishi Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan, Rajesh Khanna to the younger generation such as Dharmendra’s son Sunny Deol, Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar and her brother-in-law Anil Kapoor.
Despite her different facets onscreen, Sridevi was said to be quiet and shy offscreen which was attributed to her acting at a very young age thus, missing formal education and interaction with children her age. She got many civilian awards including the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian award from the President Shri Pranab Mukherjee in 2013.
Her loss was a big blow to the Indian film industry and to the world in general. Many actors will come and go but Sridevi’s legacy will live on forever.
Garima Nabh is the founder of New Age Magazine.