Reflecting on the career of India's most iconic, and in many ways definitive actress, Sridevi, her vast career can be defined in three stages; the Age of Innocence, Confidence and Excellence. From young ingenue to star, she segued into thespian so seamlessly. It is hard to pinpoint when exactly she turned from the meant-for-stage performer (with her exaggerated reactions and slightly shrill delivery) to the flawless screen star and celebrated actor. Though she's given many applaud-worthy performances, English Vinglish is a culmination of a 275* plus cinematic journey, where's she's funneled her craft into one of the most flawless performances in Indian cinema. Ever.
As many have said, she was born to act, with no emotion nor expression beyond her seemingly infinite faculty, no persona beyond her reach. The shy off-screen star who has managed to retain her innocence and charm despite having grown up under the spot-light since the age of four, Sridevi is the actor of actors (much beloved by her co-stars, contemporaries and generation next) and true blue superstar (a generation calls her name out as their all-time favourite). Unlike any of her contemporaries, or indeed her successors, there's an aura about Sridevi that makes her so easy to deify in print and media. Lord knows, she's this blog's raison d'être!
In an industry where you're a headline today, footnote tomorrow, Sridevi's still got a starring role on every cover and media outlet, even when she's on hiatus. While the western media has compared her to Meryl Streep and Audrey Hepburn, perhaps she's closer to Julia Roberts [one of Sridevi's favourites] than the others. Though Roberts is four years younger than Sri, both stars have circumnavigated fame and fortune, stardom and histrionics with a fine balance. Both have put their enormous careers on hold for their families and both are nonplussed about the machinations of the media. Both have had leading roles that aren't secondary to their male counterparts, both earned the biggest paychecks of their time and both had scripts written just for them.
Let's not beat around the bush about the fact the film industry genuflects at youth and is in perpetual hunt for the new and the exciting, and yet Julia and Sridevi are relevant today and respected in a manner that the younglings can only aspire to.
What makes them so exciting to watch on screen today of course is, you never know what to expect next and we - the collective audience - wait with breath that is baited.