Tag Archives: Sridevi

Both Diva and Devi: A Tribute to Sridevi

In the late seventies, as my waist lost inches and my hips stretched a little more, I could have competed with Scarlett O’Hara. I believe I owned a 17-inch waist. Such observations, however, were wasted on Daddykins, my late father, who measured beauty by a formula. He believed that a combination of height, weight, classical features, symmetry, and then, a certain charm—what we now call the “x-factor”—was what set people over the edge into the unattainable land called beauty. While I met only one of his stipulated requirements, the tenuous thing that he called charm or “grace,” the thing he couldn’t really explain or quantify, it seemed that the late actress Sridevi had that and more.

During my childhood in Chennai In the late sixties, Sridevi was the common uncommon presence on cinema; her pretty face, two years younger than I was at the time, pulverized the silver screen. While I grew extra teeth—they were called “lion’s teeth” in Tamil—and really didn’t grow at all length-wise even though my father plied me with a tonic called Vidaylin which made me grow along horizontal lines, Sridevi grew tall and gangly under the light of the camera until she could grow no more. It seemed she halted her growth at that perfect height and weight where she could have chosen to be a model, a dancer, a flight attendant, or an actress, professions that I always thought were out of reach for me because I was out of reach for them, height-wise at least, although beauty-wise, too, apparently, I was not sculpted for any of them. Daddykins, always said that I had a little bit of everything but not enough of anything: “You have decent eyes. Your nose is a little too short and your mouth is just a bit too wide. And your face, long by most standards except, say, those of a horse, does not make you a classic beauty.” But Daddykins always reassured me that no matter what I was charming: “You have some grace although for the life of me I cannot put my finger on it.”

Against the backdrop of my questionable charm, I weighed Sridevi’s gifts. Her face was so round that it could only have been drawn by a compass. Her eyes, shaped like California almonds, were set at a perfect distance from each other. Her brows too were classically arranged by our maker whereas mine had to be fixed every time I went to the beauty salon. The beautician, thread wedged between teeth and fingers, tried, in vain, to build an arch out of a dotted line.

But what I remembered most about Sridevi was her guilelessness and an effortlessness in her art. She entered every story and made it her own. Her gift was there for all of us to see because she was both pristine and consistent—like Yosemite’s Half Dome at sundown, or a blue Hawaiian sky, or the cylindrical idli on banana leaves served at Kamat Lokaruchi in Mysore. And it was that quality, in people and things, that elevated a thing or a moment to virtuosity. It was why a cherry blossom in bloom was heartbreakingly beautiful, why we watched the roar of a waterfall in silence, and why we lamented the loss of something special when we knew we’d see it no more. It was also why we recognized it, right away, when we saw it again in another clime, another form and another thing.

Kalpana Mohan writes from California’s Silicon Valley. To read more about her, go to http://kalpanamohan.com.

When Sridevi Refused Steven Spielberg

What if Sridevi had said yes to Steven Spielberg when he offered her a role in Jurassic Park? The young actress, who had waded her way north from Tollywood to Bollywood, did not make that leap. She had thunder-thighed her way to the top slot of female superstar in Bollywood and become the female Amitabh Bachchan. It was then that Spielberg had made her the offer of a role in Jurassic Park. The Hawa Hawaii that hit Bollywood could have blown all the way across the oceans to LA. But it was not to be.

At the height of her success Sridevi said no to a small role in a Hollywood movie where her co-stars would have been prehistoric animals. She felt it was a role not worthy of her superstar status we are told.

Many years later, after a eight year hiatus from films, at the age of 49 she would cross the continents to make her comeback film. Walking down the streets of Manhattan in a brown trench coat, cappuccino in hand, Sridevi returned to Bollywood in EnglishVinglish as a middle-aged homemaker who enrolls in an English-speaking course in New York to stop her husband and daughter mocking her lack of English skills The film earned global acclaim at several international festivals and Sridevi was hailed as the “Meryl Streep of India”. English Vinglish was shortlisted as India’s official entry for the Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language Film category.

In the movie Sridevi struck a #shetoo chord with all women who faced language barricades. The movie was a big hit in Japan. The Japanese women, themselves driven to despair by the linguistic discrepancies of the diaspora, embraced the film in a big way.

Sridevi who refused to become a dinosaur or act with them had truly conquered language barriers. Would the EnglishVinglish Sridevi have accepted Steven Spielberg’s offer of a role in his film if he made her one now? We would sure hope he had and she had accepted. But that is one more question that drowned with Sridevi the night of February 24th in a bathtub in Dubai.

-Ritu Marwah is the Features Editor for India Currents and enjoys writing on human behavior.

 

 

I Hate Sridevi for Dying

Even as shock reverberated through the Bollywood community on the loss of the industry’s first lady superstar an anguished Ram Gopal Verma penned a moving condolence letter saying, “I HATE GOD FOR KILLING SRIDEVI AND I HATE SRIDEVI FOR DYING.”

“I have a habit of constantly dreaming and waking up every once in a while in the night to check out my cell phone and I suddenly saw a message that Sridevi is no more. I thought that either it’s a nightmare or a hoax and I went back to sleep. An hour later I woke up to check and there were around 50 messages informing me of the same.

Back in the times when I was in engineering college in Vijayawada, I happened to see her first Telugu film “Padaharella Vayasu”.. I was awestruck with her beauty and I walked out of the theatre in a daze thinking that she cannot be a real person and she has to be some fantasy form who somehow has taken a human shape. Then I saw her various other films, All of which constantly created a higher benchmark of both, her talent and her beauty. To me she looked like some being who has come from some other world in the outer space as a favour to bless us for a little while for all the good we might have done in this world.

She was like a creation of God which he does whenever he is in a very special mood as a very very special gift to mankind. My journey to Sridevi started when I was preparing for my debut film ‘Shiva’. I used to walk from Nagarjuna’s office in Chennai to a neighbouring street where Sridevi used to live and I used to just stand and watch Sridevi’s house from outside her gate.

I just couldn’t believe that the goddess of beauty lives in that stupid looking house. I say stupid because I believed that no man-made house deserved to house that beauty called SRIDEVI. I used to so desperately hope to catch a glimpse of her as she went in or out of her house. But sadly no such thing ever happened.

And then after ‘Shiva’ released and became a big hit, a producer came to me and asked if I was interested in doing a film with Sridevi. I said “Are you mad or what? I will die to just see her,  let alone make a film with her!” He arranged a meeting with her and took me to meet her at that very same house where I used to stand outside the gate and stare. At night we went and as luck would have it there was a power cut in her house. so I was sitting in her living room in candle light along with the producer waiting for the angel to appear and my heart was thumping like mad.

Her mother told us she was busy packing as she was about to catch a flight to go to Mumbai. As we were waiting, every once in a while Sridevi was rapidly crossing the living room as she was moving from one room to another room in a rush to finish her packing even as she apologetically smiled at me for the delay. Everytime she was appearing and disappearing in a flash and the director in me started slow motioning her and running her backward and forward for my visual pleasure.

Finally she came and sat in the living room, just said a mandatory few lines that she would very much like to work with me and then she left for Mumbai. I continued talking to her mother with enormous respect and awe because she actually gave birth to Sridevi. I went back to my place feeling like I was in seventh heaven. The way Sridevi sat in front of me in the candle light got imprinted in my mind like an exquisite painting and with her image completely filling both my mind and my heart I started writing Kshana Kshanam.

I wrote Kshana Kshanam with the one and only purpose so as to impress Sridevi. Kshana Kshanam was intended by me as a love letter to her. Throughout the making of Kshana Kshanam, I just couldn’t take my eyes off her charm, her beauty, her personality and her demeanour was a new discovery for me.

She had an invisible wall around her and she does not let anyone cross that. Behind that wall she maintains her dignity and her self-respect and she never lets anyone inside. Also during the course of working with her and observing her technique of acting I began to understand more and more, as a director, about the nuances of performances and characterizations because for me she formed the epitome of cinematic acting

Her popularity and stardom had to be seen to be believed. We were shooting for the climax in Nandyal for Kshana Kshanam and the whole town of Nandyal came to a standstill when they came to know that Sridevi was in town. Banks, Govt offices, Schools, Colleges everything in town closed as everyone wanted to see Sridevi.

She stayed in a traveller’s bungalow in Nandyal and at a little distance I was staying in another bungalow. There used to be a crowd of at least 20,000 people around her bungalow throughout the night just staring at it. There were about 50 tough guys along with a 100 strong police force who used to continuously guard her.

When we were at location we used to know that Sridevi started from her bungalow to come to location because we used to see a column of dust travelling towards us from the distance. The dust was due to the thousands of people running behind her car. I have never seen more of a super star and now she just got extinguished.

Sridevi is the most beautiful and the most sensuous woman,God ever created and I think he creates such exquisite pieces of art like her only once in a thousand years. Though she is no longer there, we her directors fortunately have her captured as a goddess of beauty in our cameras and our cinematic angel has now just become a divine angel.

I thank God for creating Sridevi and I thank Louis Lumiere for creating the movie camera for giving us an opportunity to contain her forever. I still can’t believe that she is no more and I am lying in bed writing about my memories of her

I so hope I am still having a bad dream,but I know I am not
I hate Sridevi.
I hate her for making me realise that she too is finally only just a human being.
I hate that her heart too has to beat to live.
I hate that she too has a heart which can just stop like anybody else’s.
I hate that I lived to see the messages informing me of her death.
I hate God for killing her.
And I hate Sridevi for dying .
I love you Sri wherever you are… and I will always love you.”

Ram Gopal Verma’s impassioned letter was shared on Facebook by him.

Sridevi, Bollywood Superstar, dies at 54

Sridevi was so famous that most of India was on a first-name basis with her. Acclaimed for her versatility as an actor, Sridevi was best known for her comedic song hawa hawaaii in the film Mr. India (1987), and received critical attention for her role in Sadma (1983) as a child-woman suffering from retrograde amnesia. She featured in more than 300 films, and starred in Tamil and other regional language films before breaking into Hindi cinema or Bollywood. Sridevi returned to films after a fifteen-year break in 2012 with English Vinglish, about an immigrant homemaker in New York, who finds new confidence when she decides to enroll in English language classes.

Born Shree Amma Yanger Ayyapan, Sridevi was Mrs. Sridevi Kapoor when she died, having married actor Boney Kapoor in 1996. She is survived by her husband and two daughters, Janhvi and Khushi. It is rumored that her first marriage to Bollywood film star Mithun Chakravarti ended in 1988.

In 2013, Sridevi Kapoor received a Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian award. 

News sources including Indian Express originally stated that Sridevi died of cardiac arrest on a visit to Dubai on February 24, 2018. On February 26, 2018, the Guardian reported that Sridevi’s death was caused by drowning in her bath under the influence of alcohol, based on a post-mortem by Dubai police.

Fans reacted to the news of her death with shock and dismay.