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Sridevi, the star who won many hearts

The actor, who made her Bollywood debut as a child artist in Julie (1975), eventually picked up bigger projects, which further established her as an irreplaceable artist and a diva.

bollywood Updated: Feb 25, 2018 22:26 IST
Yashika Mathur
Yashika Mathur
Hindustan Times
Sridevi,Sridevi death,Sridevi news
Sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik pays tribute to actor Sridevi, at Puri beach on Sunday.(PTI)

When four-year-old Shree Amma Yanger starred as a child artist in Tamil film Thunaivan, not many could predict that she would one day graduate as India’s first female superstar. Popularly known as Sridevi, the actor passed away after a massive cardiac arrest in Dubai on Saturday night, and will be remembered for some of the iconic films she has done in the Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam film industries.

The actor, who made her Bollywood debut as a child artist in Julie (1975), eventually picked up bigger projects, which further established her as an irreplaceable artist and a diva.

Sridevi’s debut as the leading lady in the Hindi film industry, in Solva Sawan (1978), did not receive much attention, but her role in Sadma (1983) gave her instant recognition, and commercial success happened with Himmatwala (1983). A remake of filmmaker Balu Mahendra’s Tamil film Moondram Pirai, Sadma brought forth the innocence of a young girl’s regression in her childhood and struck an emotional chord with the audience. It would be correct to say that, with this film, Sridevi had arrived.

Post Sadma, the actor was flooded with offers from Bollywood. As a result came a series of blockbusters, such as Nagina, Mr India, Chandni, Lamhe, Chaalbaaz, and many more. She subsequently aced the art of balancing her career in all film industries.

Sridevi’s 1981 Tamil film, Meendum Kokila, had already got her plenty of accolades. Projects such as Moondram Pirai and Kondaveeti Simham further helped to add jewels to her crown.

Film critic and trade analyst Taran Adarsh remembers reviewing Himmatwala and recalls realising two different sides of the actor. “I have reviewed many of her films and met her so many times. I remember during Himmatwala, we travelled to shooting sets outdoor and met celebrities, and I realised there are two kinds of Sridevi. One was the character, full of life, while off screen she was a shy girl, who wouldn’t talk to many people. She has been the only actor who was on the throne in the 1980s and 1990s and was also appreciated with a film like English Vinglish,” he says.

Sridevi, across a span of 300 films and 50 years, enjoyed diverse roles and an opportunity to reach out to different sections of the audience. In an interview with HT, she had spoken about her love of being the leading lady in multiple projects. “I got to wear different clothes, I got to do the best roles. If the picture does well, I’m surprised and happy; and if it doesn’t do well, it’s part of your profession. You see what went wrong and try not to do the same mistake,” she had said.

Awarded the Padma Shri in 2013, Sridevi was known to be reserved and generally kept to herself. Reminiscing about a meeting with her, actor Juhi Chawla says, “We lived in the same building. Once in a while when I would go for a walk, I would see her jogging, with earphones plugged in. I would often see her taking evening walks when there would be fewer people around. She would often say hello. She was very shy and would prefer to be on her own. I met her on several occasions and she has always been very sweet and soft-spoken in real life as well. She kept more to herself. She was just fabulous and magical on screen and I will always be her fan.”

Married to producer Boney Kapoor in 1996, Sridevi took an eight-year sabbatical from Hindi movies before returning with English Vinglish in 2012, a comeback that was received warmly by the audience.

Sridevi’s last film in the Southern film industry was a Tamil fantasy film, Puli (2015), which won her many accolades. The actor was to be seen next in a cameo in Zero, directed by filmmaker Anand L Rai.

First Published: Feb 25, 2018 22:26 IST