Limelight has a way of following Sridevi. Her recent release, the revenge drama Mom, didn’t fare too well at the box office, but the Bollywood diva, who has ruled the silver screen for decades, has a star power that few Indian stars can rival.
On her birthday on August 13, here’s looking at how she has maintained her status despite doing just one Bollywood film since her spectacular comeback with English Vinglish in 2012.
Sridevi married producer Boney Kapoor in 1996. She was unparalleled as the leading lady in the 1980s and a tough competitor to Madhuri Dixit in the 90s. Post marriage and after the birth of her daughters, she retired from the arclights and little was seen of her between 1998 to early 2000s. It almost felt as if like other leading ladies of the eras gone by, Sridevi too had disappeared into oblivion.
In 2004-05, Sridevi appeared on TV in a serial called Malini Iyer and clearly took all by surprise with her new look – she looked far more chiselled and chic than her previous self. Even in a traditional garb – she wore her sari in the madisar style (worn by Tamil Brahmin women), temple jewellery and played the role of a south Indian married into a north Indian household – she was noticed.
Through much of 2000s, Sridevi slowly and steadily worked on her image as a fashion icon. In the days of Himmatwala and Tohfa, the lady had earned a sobriquet ‘Miss Thunder Thighs’. Her heavily accented Hindi, shrill voice and buxom figure ensured she had many critics, despite her legion of fans.
However, this Sridevi was different.
She started appearing as a showstopper on fashion shows (Lakme Fashion Weeks 2008 and 2010 and the HDIL Couture Week 2009 as showstopper for designers like Neeta Lulla and Queenie Dhody to name a few) and created quite a buzz. She always had the advantage of height (5’6”). By the 2000s, she had transformed her body significantly – she was leaner, more toned and had in place the contemporary standards of what constitutes a great body – notice her collarbones for instance.
So stunning was her debut on the ramp that often she would eclipse much younger ruling divas and make it to the cover of fashion magazines.
Many will agree that Sridevi has never looked this beautiful, not even in her younger days. Clearly, there’s more to this transformation – it also reflects changes in lifestyle – in the food one eats, fitness regimen and stress one takes. There have been unconfirmed buzz about her going under the knife too.
Her fashion sense too doesn’t fail to impress – she wears just about everything – from stunning saris, pant suits, dresses, gowns, skirts, scarves, torn and flared jeans – why she even pulled of a swimsuit look. Good lord!
Through much of this time, Sridevi’s public appearances also increased – she was everywhere – from gracing the ramp, attending film screenings and film awards. The world saw a different her.
In a fast changing world, it is extremely important to stay relevant, particularly in showbiz. Sridevi has managed to do just that. And, she did it by not going on a film signing spree. She worked on her image as a woman in her 40s (now 50s) who could make heads turn, play her role as a mom and wife to the hilt and stay in news.
Check out her Instagram page (and that of her two daughters to get an idea) to see how well she uses technology to stay connected with the world – from holidays with family across the world to her moments with family – it’s all there. Even her karwa chauth pictures with the Punjabi girl gang of Bollywood are a big hit. Fans can’t seem to get enough of this diva.
By the strength of her personality and changing with times, Sridevi is rock steady in the minds of Indian fandom.
Glance through her Wikipedia page and it will give you an idea as to the work she has done. Conversant in five languages (Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada), Sridevi has been working since she was a kid. From quality cinema to mass appealing entertainers, she’s been there, done that.
For her comeback vehicle, she chose Gauri Shinde’s delightfully crafted English Vinglish. Playing a mother to a pre-teen girl and boy, she was a wonderful fit. As a married woman, struggling with English language (and the butt of her husband’s insensitive remarks), she was a hit. She brought out the vulnerability of her character rather well. One of the talking points of the film was, of course, her saris and how well she looked in them. Simple cotton and silk saris have never looked so lovely.
Coming five years later, Mom, too was structured to showcase her as a contemporary mother. Westernised and educated, she portrayed a woman out to take revenge as a wronged mother. She did Theri in the meanwhile in Tamil and made as much news for not doing the Baahubali series.
Mom may have failed but knowing Sridevi, this is more a comma than a full stop.