Her mortal remains consigned to flames, Sridevi has solemnly glided into eternal serenity. Like the Bollywood parable often told to us, ‘Chandni’ Sridevi has now become a star ensconced in the skies after her demise that had imploded our shock absorbing systems last Sunday with its suddenness. Perhaps we did not heed to her ‘kisi ke haath na aayegi yeh ladki’ liner seriously. The South Siren kept everyone clueless as she made a supersonic exit once and for all.
Raveena over Sridevi? Really?
The 1994 box office hit Laadla — both the actresses were part of it along with Anil Kapoor — was being filmed in Aurangabad (Maharashtra), some kilometers away from a village where I used to live then. Though Sridevi was senior to Raveena in the Bollywood, I happened to had seen less of her work vis-a-vis Raveena, whom I used to find quite glamorous, more beautiful than Sridevi. I wore the best dress I had and scampered along with an elderly relative to the shooting location, hoping to catch up with the trio (or only Raveena?). The trip was in vain, we missed glimpse of the stars by a whisker.
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When the film finally hit theatres, my perception stood shattered. Sridevi’s headstrong yet mod woman boss character in it had the tide shifting. She looked resplendent. Her performance as an actress sort of didn’t matter to me then. I was too young to differentiate between good and bad acting.
Chalbaaz, Chandni, Lamhe, and Khuda Gawah, which I saw in the ensuing years (not in the order of when they were released), did an encore. Mehandi, one of her two characters in Khuda Gawah, was the epitome of glamour. Remember the saadi-clad Sridevi in ‘mere watan mein maine suni hai’? Akkineni Nagarjuna was a lucky co-star. I would rate her frames in that song above those from Chandni. To each his own!
As my puerility waned, my admiration for her acting prowess only grew. She could be spunky yet graceful, raw yet elegant and impish yet reticent. She could switch between these virtues with finesse. Her contributions in Sadma and aforesaid flicks deserve paeans. English Vinglish and Mom I am yet to see.
I don’t remember any actress emulating Amitabh Bachchan’s aura and performance like she did. Similarly, you will remember Chalbaaz for Sridevi more than that for Thalaivaa Rajnikanth or powerhouse actor Sunny Deol (can’t deny her roles were meatier). She was on par with Anil Kapoor. Salman Khan is a huge star now. But, I am saying at the cost of inviting ire of his fans, he was near-zilch in the acting department when he collaborated with Sridevi for two films (Chand Ka Tukda and Chandramukhi). I haven’t seen much of her earlier work with Jumping Jack Jeetendra and Mithun Chakraborty to opine about.
She clicked with different generations of co-stars/superstars and in diverse roles, outshining many of them on several occasions. Sridevi will continue to shine and outshine, unfortunately, not on the silver screen anymore, but in the skies.
Thankfully, unlike Aamir Khan’s PK character — which disappears in the skies with audio tapes of his conversations with Anushka Sharma’s character, Sridevi didn’t take away, in any form, her stellar work en route to the heaven.
So, let’s rewind, forward, pause or play those and celebrate, not mourn, the phenomenon called Sridevi who touched our lives in the way only few actors could!