Remembering Sridevi (1963-2018): Bollywood's 'Chandni' gone too soon

Sridevi's beguiling eyes, scintillating screen presence and acting prowess made her one of the most sought-after actors in the Hindi film industry. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Feb 25, 2018, 03.14 AM (IST) Shomini Sen

Cinema will never be the same again. The exuberance and the innocence that Sridevi got to her roles will never be there again. She was the first female superstar of Bollywood, and a trailblazer, who inspired many of the contemporary actresses. She was the reason why many took up filmmaking just in the hope that one day she would work with them. Bollywood will never be same without her.

Born in Tamil Nadu’s Sivakasi on August 13, 1963, Sridevi perhaps only understood the language of cinema as she made her foray into acting at the tender age of four. She first appeared in a film called Thunaivan where she played Lord Muruga. Conversant in both Tamil and Telugu languages, Sridevi in the 1960s and early 1970s acted in films in both these languages as a child artiste. In fact, in 1975, she was also part of Julie where she played the sister to the main protagonist.

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Her first adult role came a year later, in 1976 in a film called Moondru Mudichu and co-starred Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan. She was 13 then. She eventually went on to do a number of films with these two actors and trio dominated Tamil cinema in the 1970s- early 80s.

Her Bollywood debut in 1979 in a film called Solva Saal may have gone unnoticed but she made everyone sit up and take notice of her when four years later, she starred opposite Jeetendra in Himmatwala. A major blockbuster, people suddenly woke up to Sridevi and lauded her dancing skills. Sridevi and Jeetendra were a hit pair post the success of Himmatwala and went on to feature in several films together including Tohfa, Mawaali, Maqsad. In fact, the song Naino Mein Sapna from Himmatwala became a cult song and is revered till date.

While Sridevi continued to feature in commercial cinema- most of them had her in glamorous avatar- the actress stunned critics and fans alike in a role that was career defining. In Balu Mahendra’s Sadma (originally made in Tamil Moondram Pirai) Sridevi played a child-woman diagnosed with retrograde amnesia who is nurtured back to health and normalcy by a do-gooder Somu played by Kamal Haasan. Perhaps one of the most poignant love-stories in modern day cinema, it had remarkable performances by both the actors. A difficult role to play, Sridevi swelled as Nehalata and won the Best Actress Filmfare Award for the pitch-perfect portrayal of a child-woman for that role. It remains one of the best roles of her career.

She was a trendsetter. Whether it came to the kind of roles she chose to work in, the money that demanded at the peak of her career, or the way she chose to settle down with a much married Boney Kapoor at the peak of her career, everything made headlines. Some of her work inspired actors in later years, some ruthlessly copied her style and some dedicated their performances and films to her. Her personal life made headlines and raised eyebrows - she was reportedly pregnant with her first child Jahnvi when she married Boney Kapoor in a secret ceremony- but Sridevi set her own rules and lived by them.

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She took a break at the peak of her career when she got married and had her daughter Jahnvi. In 2012, after nearly two decades of staying away from the arclights, Sridevi made a comeback in English Vinglish and reinstated our love for her. As the under-confident Shashi who secretly learns English to earn the respect of her family, Sridevi won hearts one more time with her beautiful performance. She was last seen in Mom in 2017.

Chandni, Lamhe, Mr India, Chaalbaaz, Judaai are some of the blockbusters that Sridevi was part of. The actress was honoured with Padmashri in 2013 and had won 6 Filmfare awards.

She had shot for a cameo appearance in SRK's Zero-which will now be the last screen outing of the legend.

Married to producer Boney Kapoor, the couple has two daughters- Janhvi and Khushi. Janhvi will be making her debut in Dhadak later this year.

The star has gone too soon and Bollywood has lost it's Chandni.