It wouldn’t be an understatement to call Sridevi an icon. The actor was was made for the silver screen. Born in the year 1963, Shree Amma Yanger Ayyapan started acting when she was just four. Her first role as an adult came in K Balachandar’s critically-acclaimed Moondru Mudichu. She continued to act in several massive, cult films such as Sigappu Rojakal, 16 vayathinile, Jhonny, Varumai Niram Sigappu, Priya etc.
After charming the south with her phenomenal beauty and acting skills, Sridevi made her Bollywood début as a lead in 1978 film Solva Sawan. A cherubic faced Sridevi might have made her début opposite two superstars down south, Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth. But what Moondru Mudichu was, is a film that brought three superstars together. Defying age, language or state borders, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call Sridevi the first pan-Indian woman superstar. While several made the transition from the south to north, Sridevi’s success is extraordinary.
A recipient of the Padma Shri award and five Filmfare awards, Sridevi was one of the earliest stars who proved that women-centric films could draw audiences to the theatre. Breaking stereotypes about older women actresses not getting a meaty role, her comeback film English Vinglish was a massive hit. As the charming, spirited housewife, it was a dream for all her fans across the country to see Sridevi back on the big screen after 15 years. Before women-centric films were the norm, Sridevi was there setting an example to younger actresses that heroines were no longer just arm candy.
February 24, 2018, would be a black day in the history of Indian cinema as we have lost one of the finest professionals to the curse of mortality. As an actor who has inspired generations, Sridevi Boney Kapoor has left an inimitable mark on the psyche of the country. Even as I write this short piece as an ode to the powerhouse of talent that Sridevi was, somewhere in the corner of my heart, the shock is still incomprehensible. Her mortal existence might have ended, but the silver screen will make sure her story lives.