Thank You Sridevi For Entertaining Me Through My Childhood

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. Today being her birth anniversary, I would like to share a few thoughts about her.

She was one of my favourite actresses, because her screen prescence always entertained me. I laughed with her cried with her, danced with her. When she was ill-treated in Chandini, I hated Rishi Kapoor for being mute. When she was tricked in Gumrah by Rahul Roy for carrying drugs and then gets caught in prison, I felt bad for her. She somehow brought life to the characters. She did not enact scripts on screen, she lived the character on screen.

She started working at the age of 4 in films. Probably that is the reason why, she was so perfect in front of the Camera. Sadma was one of her best films is what people say but I am yet to see the same. Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raaja was one of my favourite films to sit and watch with friends.

No amount of writing or videos can do justice to describe her talent. A timeless beauty, who always played her age. Like in Judai she wore simple sarees in the first half, when she was a simple housewife and then designer sarees, when she becomes a millionaire. Her body language, costume, script, everything justified the character. She stuck to being the same Sashi, with her sarees and one single braid from India to US. That showed her strong personality. Despite having a language barrier with other classmates, she tried to explain them whenever, there were communication gaps. For example: We would presume that a woman who refused to let go her Saree, would nto understand Gay Relationship, but she was the one who stood up for her professor saying whether gay or straight, heartbreak is a heartbreak, pain is same. Such a simple concept but so powerfully displayed.

She never wore any exotic outfits or any thing revealing but still she could be sensous in a Chiffon Saree and a well covered blouse. She never went overboard and exposed herself to attract attention from the audience. Her best movies were the ones in which she was paired with Rishi Kapoor or Anil Kapoor. Even if she came on screen for 5 minutes, her expressions spoke volumes. Like the scene when in the movie Lamhe, Pooja (Sridevi )discovers Pallavi’s (her mother whom she resembles very much ) sketch made by Kunwar (Anil Kapoor), she dances with happiness unknown that in a few moments her heart will break.

We did not have OTT Platforms and therefore accessing the latest movies was out of question. We survived on the limited movies that we saw.

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 had a different personality On Screen and Off Screen.

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.)

The last movie I saw of Sridevi, was English Vinglish and it somehow etched in my heart. Somehow, no movie has impacted me the way this movie has.

I do not have the courage to write anything beyond this. There will be a lot of actresses, who will come and go after this, but I doubt anybody can match the benchmark set by you.

A small post dedicated to the person who taught me self love and self confidence.

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