Friday, 7 January 2011

Sunday: The Magic of Sridevi

27 June, 1992, SUNDAY magazine cover story.


Rare for a serious, mostly political magazine to feature a Bollywood actor on the cover, but then, Sridevi was - and is - above and beyond the usual array of stars.

The feature is... not that great nor particularly well written. Here's a sample; "This otherwise unremarkable-looking woman looks absolutely stunning as the older woman...". Quote from the article by Namita Bhandare! Sridevi may be a lot of things - even we as fans are not blind to her flaws -  but she's no ordinary mortal!

Sridevi on the sets of Roop Ki Rani, Choron Ka Raja
Sridevi's landmark films
From Sadma to Khuda Gawah


Directed by Balu Mahendra, this 1983 film was a remake of the Tamil, Moondram Pirai. Sridevi played the role of a young girl who loses her memory temporarily and regresses to the mental age of a six-year-old child. Although she won unanimous praise for her histrionics and dubbed for the Hindi version herself, Sridevi believes that the Hindi version was 'disappointing.'

MODERATOR: Fact check, the entire film was re-shot again, not just dubbed.


This was Sridevi's comeback film as a Hindi heroine in 1983. Jeetendra had already obtained dates from her for a Telugu film, but shelved the project and used the dates to produce this box-office hit. The film itself followed the usual masala format and Sridevi was presented in her 'thunder thighs' persona. But the success of the film ensured that she stayed on in Bollywood.


The role of the snake woman was originally to have gone to Sridevi's then arch-rival, Jayaprada. But luckily for Sridevi, Jayaprada has a terrible phobia about snakes, and, at the last moment, backed out of this Harmesh Malhotra film. Released in 1987, Nagina was a big hit with Sridevi playing the tried and tested role of the nagin. The climax dance choreographed by Saroj Khan (who has consistently choreographed all Sridevi's dances) went down well.


This 1987 film, produced by Boney Kapor, catapulted Sridevi into the top league and also established Kapoor as a major producer. For the first time, Sridevi was presented so dramatically in her avatar as the bouncy and sprightly young girl. The song, Hawa Hawaii, was a big hit (Mira Nair used clip in her Salaam Bombay to make a point about the crass commercialization of Hindi cinema) as was Sridevi's Charlie Chaplin sequence.


Pankaj Parasher saw Mr India and immediately decided to make a film centered around Sridevi. In 1991, he released this remake of a remake of a remake. Sridevi played Hema Malini's role from the hugely popular Seetha aur Geetha. Despite being pitted against such talents as Rohini Hattangadi and Anupam Kher, she held her own as she danced, fought, romanced and cried through the film.

Sridevi in Chandni

Directed by Yash Chopra, the king of romance and glycerine, Sridevi had a role as a small-town girl who decides to make a new life after her beloved (Rishi Kapoor) meets with an accident. Undaunted, she goes on to get a job in the big city, finds a job of her own and gets involved with her new boss (Vinod Khanna).

But the dictates of commercial cinema ensured she finally patch up with her beloved. Yet, the film had its memorable moments especially the penultimate confrontation scene between Sridevi and her beloved (Rishi Kapoor), where she literally breathes fire and brimstone.


This November 1991 film couldn't repeat the success of Chandni. Ironically, the film was a big success on the video circuit, but front-benchers in movie halls were in no mood for romance. Analysing why it flopped so badly, Yash Chopra reasoned that Indian audiences saw an incestuous relationship between Anil Kapoor and the younger Sridevi, who he has helped bring up after the death of her mother. Despite the flop, Sridevi emerged unscathed.

Sridevi in Lamhe


Wrongly touted as Amitabh Bachchan's last film, Sridevi managed to hold her own despite being cast against the Big B. As with Lamhe, she has a double rolee as an arrogant Afghan woman and then as her daughter. As the older woman, the role was further split to the statuesque figure of the first half and the drawn-to-madness woman waiting for her lover to come back to her.

Sridevi in Khuda Gawah

Critics remarked on how much Sridevi's diction has improved with the film - not just her Hindi, her Urdu too, is flawless. Not to mention, that this otherwise unremarkable-looking woman looks absolutely stunning as the older woman.

Namita Bhandare/Bombay

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