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February 25, 2018

Sridevi – An Unforgettable, Legendary Superstar

Text by Shraddha Jahagirdar-Saxena

We pay tribute to the versatile icon who ruled the silver screen for decades….

She was – and it is absolutely impossible to digest that we are speaking about Sridevi in the past tense – India’s first female superstar. The actor passed away after a massive heart attack in Dubai and the world woke up this Sunday morning to the shocking news of her demise. We – like her fans – will never forget this morning.

A few months ago we had interacted with the superstar – she was our cover girl for the month of October.  At that time Sridevi was just recovering from a bad bout of viral fever – and we waited till she got well, all the while connecting with her husband, Boney Kapoor. Finally, we met her at her Lokhandwala home, where, playing the perfect hostess, she entered the hall with admirable promptitude and bid us be comfortable. We spent the hours of the morning and early afternoon with her – as she, with her customary concentration took in every detail of every look, giving her opinion in her soft, yet firm voice.

The business of dealing with the looks done with, she sat down opposite me for our leisurely chat. Even today, I can remember our conversation, as it spanned days, months and years – covering as she did milestones of her real and reel journeys. And, that morning as I recall, was also a Sunday morning.

Later, designer Manish Malhotra, speaking about the style quotient of the superstar, told us, “With every role and every movie that she did, Sridevi’s learning curve evolved markedly. Her choice of movies evolved in keeping with this — each part was more challenging than the one before. And she thrives on this. Her looks in every film embrace the character’s psyche at every point. So, when we had to move from waistcoats and berets in the first half of Gumrah to the basic — almost manly — look for her prison scenes, she didn’t flinch. And today, the stories are far more rooted in the real; the characters are so much more relatable. So movies like Mom don’t just find viewers; they also spark discussion and form opinion. ‘What am I going to wear today?’ would be the last thought on Devaki’s mind. What you see Sridevi wearing in the movie is not just evocative of her personality, but also the single-mindedness and pathos of Devaki.”

Sridevi speak – excerpts from our conversation with her

“I have never given a thought to the fact that people think I’m an icon. I only concentrate on working hard and doing my best. But yes, when people come up to me and tell me that I am looked up to, it makes me feel good. There is also a huge sense of responsibility.”

“My children and husband want me to dress well. They feel happy when they see me looking beautiful. I dress for them and, of course, for myself. Every woman feels good when she looks good. It is important that as women, we never give up in life or think, ‘I’m done’.”

“The looks of my characters more or less matched their personalities. Otherwise, they would not have worked. If I had to pick three films where my look was liked, I would definitely pick Chandni (1989) first. The look became a trend and many girls were then seen wearing white salwar kameezes. The clothes were first designed by Bhanu Athaiya and then Leena Daru came into the picture. I would also shortlist English Vinglish. Sabyasachi (Mukherjee) gave me simple saris to suit my persona of a housewife. And then, of course, my most recent film — Mom. Manish (Malhotra) played an important role in Mom. He gave Devaki an amazing look — it was simple, dignified and glamorous, where required. You don’t see the designer anywhere. Manish did such a brilliant job that his look became real.”

“And in the ultimate analysis, beyond my public image, the real Sridevi is very sensitive, loving and giving.”

Her repertoire of films spans languages, decades and styles. We pick ten of her Hindi films that showcased the variegated hues of her immense talent….
Sadma (1983)

Nagina (1986)

Mr India (1987)

Chandni (1989)

Chaalbaaz (1989)

Lamhe (1991)

Khuda Gawah (1992)

Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja (1993)

English Vinglish(2012)

Mom (2017)

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