Sridevi: From being Bollywood’s first female superstar to her mysterious death | Bollywood - Hindustan Times

Sridevi’s 60th birth anniversary: From being Bollywood’s first female superstar to her mysterious death

Aug 13, 2023 08:51 AM IST

Sridevi, one of the most iconic actors of the country, was born on August 13, 1963. Sridevi was the first female superstar of Bollywood. She died in 2018.

On Sridevi's birth anniversary, her family and fans cannot help but notice her absence. Husband-producer Boney Kapoor and daughters Janhvi Kapoor and Khushi Kapoor remembered her with throwback pictures. The actor would have turned 60 on Sunday. Ahead, we try to capture the actor's five-decade-long journey to becoming India’s ‘first female superstar’, and her untimely death. Sridevi died in Dubai at the age of 54 on February 24, 2018. Also read: Anil Kapoor finds rare pic with Sridevi from Mr India sets

 Sridevi in a still from her 1989 film Chandni.
Sridevi in a still from her 1989 film Chandni.

First female superstar of Bollywood

Born Shree Amma Yanger Ayappar in Tamil Nadu on August 13, 1963, Sridevi began working as a child actor at the young age of four. Over the next five decades, and after nearly 300 movies, Sridevi won the hearts of millions around the world becoming one of the rare multi-lingual actors, who had achieved superstardom in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam film industries.

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During her peak, she was called the ‘female Amitabh Bachchan' by the dailies of the time, which cemented her status as Bollywood's first female superstar. Reportedly, she was offered a role in Jurassic Park by Steven Spielberg, but she refused it saying that it didn't suit her stardom at the time. When her Mom co-actor Akshaye Khanna asked her why did she do that during their interview with Bollywood Hungama, she responded, “Those days, doing Hollywood films was alien, now it’s like a pride.”

Sridevi in a still from English Vinglish.
Sridevi in a still from English Vinglish.

Sridevi's filmography is widely varied

She started her film journey as a child artist in the movie Kandan Karunai and concluded her filmography with Mom in 2017. The actor is as well-known for her classics such as Chaal Baaz (1989) and Sadma (1983) as her comeback hit English Vinglish (2012).

Late director Yash Chopra, who directed her in Chandni (1989) and then in Lamhe (1991), once said that she had the unique capacity to immerse herself in a role. From playing an amnesiac woman, who had regressed back to being a six-year-old in Sadma to a shapeshifting snake-woman Nagina, Sridevi did it all.

On female actors being pitted against each other

When Sridevi was asked about her rivals in the industry, she was quoted as saying in August 1990 by Filmfare, “Where are the rivals? There can be rivalry only between two equals. My only rival at the moment is Sridevi. I'm constantly trying to upstage her. I'm doing it to the point of obsession.”

Sridevi's death

Sridevi died in 2018 in a Dubai hotel bathroom. The autopsy report called it an 'accidental drowning' in the bathtub. She was in the United Arab Emirates for the wedding of actor-nephew Mohit Marwah, with her husband Boney Kapoor and family. While celebrities and fans mourned her shocking, untimely death, some questioned the circumstance in which she died.

According to a 2022 report by Medium, filmmaker Sunil Singh had said Sridevi’s death was a murder. He entered a plea in the Supreme Court demanding a probe into her death. Sunil Singh’s lawyer claimed an insurance policy worth 240 crore existed in Sridevi’s name in Oman, and a clause in the policy stated the money is claimable only if the actor died in Dubai. The Supreme Court rejected Sunil Singh’s plea, saying authorities in the UAE have already investigated the matter.

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