Sridevi passed away last Saturday night and her aura will be dearly missed. She was the embodiment of the natural Indian beauty. Typically a Bollywood movie is driven by a male protagonist, but the credit goes to Sridevi who paved the way for women to become more empowered in the movies.
Acting was her gift and she shared it graciously with the world. In 1976, she made her debut in Moondru Mudichu where she played the complex role of Selvi, a girl who avenges the death of her lover by marrying his murderer. The film had Kaamal Haasan and Rajnikanth in leading male roles, but Sridevi made this movie a piece of cinematic art by her magnificent acting. A proof of this is the song Vasantha Kala Nadigalile where she showed a spectrum of emotions in the span of four-and-a-half minutes.
For someone who had a start this great, there’s no stopping back. Through both her public and private lives, she showed the world the true power of being a women. By using cinema, she played powerful characters that challenged the norms of the society. Through her private life, she displayed her sophisticated, yet humble nature.
As the world continues to pay tribute, I would like to remember her as a source of inspiration and a role model. She was not the only Bollywood’s first superstar. She was its first feminist icon.
Standing up for yourself
Throughout her career, she always played a role where she was a modern and enlightened lady. However, in English Vinglish, she showed us time and again that you should never feel inadequate. Even in the most of difficult times, she found a way out for herself.
Supporting a difficult cause
In the first season of Satyamev Jayate, Sridevi became the first signatory of a letter to the government for creating a law against child abuse. Although she picked up painting as a hobby after her marriage, she never considered it a source of income or fame. The money received from the sale of her paintings was always donated.
It seems Sridevi knew how to live a life filled with risks. She had a established career in Tollywood, the South Indian sister of Bollywood. However, she wanted to do a Hindi film. She took the risk, but the film bombed at the box office. She did not stop there. Her second movie Himmatwala with Jitendra became a blockbuster hit. In 2008, she walked the ramp at Lakme India Fashion Week. In 2011, she stepped out of her 16-year-long hiatus to act in English Vinglish. This bold move made the only leading Bollywood actress to comeback with a hit.
Never listening to the haters
The grapevine was never silent. The rumor mill kept on running. The birds kept on tweeting. Just a few weeks ago, YouTube gossiped how she “scolded” her daughter in public. Her rivalry with Madhuri kept the Page 3 alive. But, she always focused on her work.
Breaking the ceiling
Hard work pays off, but for women it is much harder. Before Sridevi, stardom was only destined for men. Many claim luck was on her side. However, it’s just not only that. The characters Sridevi picked and played paved the way for stronger female protagonists and antagonists.
Rest in peace, Sridevi
Alas! Life ends without any notice. Sridevi may not be with us, but she lives in every successful Bollywood heroine. Her soul has departed, but her art remains.