I still remember when I was 7 years old, when I went to see ‘Vasantha Kokila’ with my parents in a theater I saw a beautiful girl losing her memory and turning into this little kid by nature. The child inside me was mesmerised with that performance. I was told the girl’s name was Sridevi. I then went on to watch many of her films while growing up, like most of us – Aakali Rajyam, Julie, Jagadeka Veerudu-Athiloka Sundari, Kshana Kshanam, Chaal Baaz, Mr India, Lamhe, etc., the list was endless and I was constantly amazed at every role Sridevi played, with effortlessness and ease. She could be anybody on screen – literally any character, sinking into it and making us remember her screen names. Her role as ‘Satya’ in Kshana Kshanam is evergreen and so is ‘Indraja’ of Jagadeka veerudu. She could be an angel descending from heaven to a lost city girl in a cop chase. She could be that struggling journalist who is searching for a sensational story to a young girl who falls for a very old man. Sridevi defined the very word called talent for many years. Exceptionally beautiful, and hailing from a middle class Tam Bram family, she went on to become the Diva of the Nation, making a very special place in the hearts of film lovers. In an era where heroes ruled the roost, Sridevi would become a top tag for any man to become her hero on screen. She acted with the likes to NTR, ANR, Krishna, Jeetendra till Venkatesh, Nagarjuna, Chiranjeevi and Balakrishna. Not to forget her sheer presence in Kollywood with the likes of Rajinikanth and Kamal Hassan. Sri took the Country by storm with her double role in Chaal Baaz. Her impish looks and talented demeanour took her to the top league of Bollywood in a very short span. No heroine could match her beauty or looks or even attitude. Every struggling actress was there in Mumbai to become another Sridevi. As Venkatesh Daggubati rightly put it in one of the interviews after Kshana Kshanam, which went on to become a roaring hit – “It was an honour to act with her. She was head to head with me in performance in every scene. Sridevi is truly a Goddess of Indian Cinema”
The lady who dazzled in one film after the other and ruled all the three woods suddenly accepted her affair with an already married director Boney Kapoor, in 90 s. This news took the fans into a tizzy and came as a shock to one and all when Sri, who was then pregnant with his child, finally tied the knot and hushed the critics. That was the last time, in a long time, anyone saw Sridevi ruling the screen. She went into quite a long sabbatical, disappointing many hearts, to be with her family and raise her two daughters. The Diva returned to big screen only last year, playing an endearing role of a dedicated-neglected-determined mom in Gauri Shinde’s English Vinglish, receiving great appreciation from both the masses and the critics. The lady may have turned 50 today, but she still looks like a 20 year old girl, stunning the younger heroines and giving them a run for their money.
Hence, it is not very surprising when every household that has a pretty girl is often heard saying “Sridevi la unnavu” here in Telugu community. Years may have passed but Sridevi’s place is none taken and stands unique to her alone. She continues to wow us every single day with her beauty, grace and an amazing personality to be jealous of. We love her and will do so for times to come!
A very happy birthday to a true Diva!
Deepa Balasubramanian – Team Chitramala