SADMA STRIKES INDIA: SRIDEVI LEAVES AT JUST 54
Monday, 26 February 2018 | Meenakshi Rao | New Delhi-
It was in Goa that I last met Sridevi — as usual a picture of grace, elegance and a quiet poise that never aged, quite in contrast to her patented impishness, vivacity and cuteness that dazzled the big screen and fans for years.
She had promised a full-scale interview on March 6 on her five decades in the industry, a commitment that was cruelly taken away from her by the hand of God.
Indeed, Sridevi, 54, passed too soon, too unexpectedly and with minimum fuss, being taken away by a sudden midnight cardiac arrest on February 24 in Dubai where she had gone to be a part of her husband Boney Kapoor’s nephew Mohit Marwah’s wedding celebrations.
The first woman superstar in a male-dominated Bollywood, she was a wholesome diva who shaped her career as meticulously as she shaped her body and her place in the film industry’s hall of fame.
From being the unapologetic thunder thighs dancing wonder-blunder in Himm-atwala opposite Jeetendra, rocking the screen with a wantonness that left her audience gaping, to showing up as a versatile actress in the critically acclaimed Sadma, wherein she played an amnesia-struck woman child with a consummate brilliance that none had, has or ever will, Sridevi was a powerhouse of rare histrionic prowess.
But it was her unique Chaalbaaz mischief-mongering and frolicsome Hawa Hawaai dance in Mr India that took away hearts en masse and forever. That, however, did not stop her from emerging as a wholesome diva and sultry seductress with the most expressive eyes Bollywood can ever boast of. She coupled this with her acting acumen showcased in movie after movie, be it Lamhe, Chandni, Nagina, Tohfa, or English-Vinglish and Mom which she did after a 15-year break from Bollywood, a time she spent honing her home and life with producer and husband Boney Kapoor and mothering her two daughters, Jhanvi and Khushi, to be fine young ladies.
At heart, Sridevi was a gentle yet firm woman who would warm up to friends and was soft-spoken to all. But as an actress, she had built up an invisible wall around herself that none could breach. It was exactly five decades of acting after which she left this world, having started off at age 4 on the big screen.
Not that her life had been as smooth as her glowing skin but being an extremely private person, her emotions never showed up before a crowd. When her mother died due to a brain surgery mess-up at the Sloan Kettering Hospital in America, she broke down but only on Boney’s shoulder with no one looking. She quietly braved the Kapoor khandan’s natural scorn to become the castigated second wife of a much married man with an angry grown-up son, never speaking of her inclusivity issues.
Perhaps that was the reason she chose to keep herself in eternal shape and not let the wrinkles ever appear on her face and thereby, as she thought, in her relationships. She chose to be eternally beautiful and for that underwent corrective surgeries in the US, a regime her husband should have stopped her from following.
Her untimely cardiac arrest could be the fallout of her obsession to look slimmer and younger than the 54-year-old she was. The procedures made her look beautiful but at what cost? The gaunt face in her later years made her eyes look abnormally bigger and made us fans yearn for her pleasantly plump look that she put under the knife, courting danger and mortality at a relatively young age.
Rituparna Ghosh did the same surgical blunders with the same fatal fallout and perhaps, in Sridevi’s death we should introspect about the size-zero pressures we inadvertently put on your screen sweethearts and how they make it a dangerous professional compulsion.
But far beyond and forever, Sridevi will continue to rule our hearts, now regaling gentry on the other side with her sparkling eyes, infectious laughter, a seductiveness that shunned comparison.
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