25 Feb 2018

We Will Miss You Sridevi (1963-2018)!

Sridevi (1963-2018)
During my childhood years in the eighties and nineties, Sridevi was already a popular culture comet in the Bollywood sky. Even in those simpler, limited mass communication medium times, her amazing talent was hard to ignore.

The fearless news reporter Seema in Mr.India (1987) is a distinct memory as is the mercurial comic turn in the otherwise exaggerated lost twin sisters tale ChaalBaaz (1989), and the 'classic in parts', Yash Chopra's ode to feminine beauty, Chandni (1989). Lamhe (1991) is Sridevi at her peak, it is arguably her best film, apart from English Vinglish.

Sridevi was simply brilliant and born to make it on the big screen. At her peak, nobody could match her versatility. Be it the absurd requirement to dance, look cute and beautiful in Hindi films, to teary-eyed emoting, Sridevi ticked all the boxes and more. It was her comic timing that makes her legendary. For someone so introvert in real life, the extroverted reel life transformation was pure magic.

The famous wedding dance routine that lights up Chandni (1989)

The Wrong Decade
The eighties is Hindi commercial cinema's worst decade yet. Women came off with the worst treatment with crass, double-meaning dialogue, provocative rape scenes, and body objectification. Yet, this was Sridevi's decade. She easily stood out faultless, engaging and pitch-perfect in mostly average, dreadful and some memorable films.  

My enduring kid memory is of her in shiny contact lenses and bad makeup, dancing to main teri dushman, dushman tu mera in the boisterous Nagina (1986) with exquisite flair. For pure acting gold bookends, also see Sadma (1983).

With Sunny Deol in ChaalBaaz (1989)

Sridevi: Gone Too Soon
Sridevi's sudden death at 54, at a time when she was making a selective, content-driven return to Hindi films, and looking amazingly timeless on screen is a huge loss. Her best was yet to come, the mini-list of great films she has starred in was steadily expanding, with English Vinglish and to a small extent, Mom (2017), matching up to her towering talent.

In mediocrity ridden Hindi cinema, Sridevi will be remembered as an actress of rare gifts, a spontaneous blaze of talent. It will be difficult not to miss her commanding presence on the big screen. She may be gone, but Manju, Chandni, Seema, and Shashi will continue to live on in our hearts forever.  

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