An Empty Abyss – A tribute to Sridevi

They say there always is a right time for everything and nothing happens if the time is not right, but was it time already? Was it not too soon? Perhaps it was; definitely, it was.

Chandni still remains one of the first films I ever watched, of course, years after it’s initial release. Back then we didn’t have CDs and DVDs. We didn’t even have the luxury of YouTube. It was an era of tapes. I remember replaying ‘Chandni O Meri Chandni’ again and again and singing it at the top of my voice and falling in love with Sridevi Ji over and over again. I wanted to see more of Sridevi, and then watched Chaalbaaz. Till date, this remake of Seeta Aur Geeta remains my favourite film. I can watch it over and over again without getting even a bit bored. And then years later, English Vinglish happened, a film which not only re-established Sri Ji as one of the finest actors ever but also as the only woman to make such a successful comeback to the movies.

Having grown up literally in the studios, in front of the camera, she fit into every mould. Lamhe, Sadma, Chaalbaaz – name her film and she did justice to each one of them. Of course, some worked and some didn’t but the world knew that Sridevi was a force to reckon with in the seventies and eighties, even later. There is no denying of the truth behind her being called the ultimate “switch-on, switch-off” actress. That is how easily she moved from one film set to another, one character to another, because she was a greedy artist. She wanted to make the most of it and as soon as possible. That was her dedication.

And perhaps it is this discipline and dedication of hers that she did not think once before deciding, that she wanted to raise her daughters and make them capable enough to rule the world like she did, instead of further glorifying her own name.

Perhaps it is this very dedication that made English Vinglish a landmark in the history of Indian Cinema.

Sri Ji came to Hindi Cinema from down South, from Tamil and Telugu Cinema. She came from a place where everyone knew that she was the best, but no one called her ‘number one’ because those industries didn’t believe in these labels. But once she stepped foot into Hindi Cinema, there was no looking back and she became the number one actress and the first female superstar Cinema had ever seen.

Her performances in Southern Cinema -Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada – were very different from those in Hindi. She was, no doubt, fine in both but just different when it came to Hindi films. But still, she delivered one of the best performances ever. Her performance in Sadma still remains a benchmark for actresses. For all those actresses who became actresses because Sri JI inspired them, who fell in love with the craft because she led the way for them, and even for those for whom she wasn’t ‘the idol’, but again, did anyone not idolise her? I don’t think so!

And now, it is heart-breaking to see her go, just months before her daughter, Janhvi Kapoor’s debut. How that young girl would have been looking forward to the release of the film when she could see her mother beaming with pride after the premiere. My condolences to the family, the entire film fraternity and to the whole of India who is still in love with this woman, winning our hearts with Hawa Hawai…

I’ve seen Sri Ji at a couple of parties and events, and every single time I have wanted to go up to her and tell her how much I loved her and her body of work  But I could never shed off my fan-boyishness and go up to her, except this one time when I did and she thought that I was approaching her for a seflie  Of course I would have loved to but the moment I met her I knew there was so much more than just clicking a picture so I didn’t even ask for it. I remember telling her that if I ever plan on becoming a journalist, I would love to take an interview with her, to with she replied in jest,  ‘zaroor, but I don’t speak much in interviews’. She then smiled and we said our goodbyes. And now if I do decide on becoming a journalist, I’ll never know if that interview was a possibility or not…

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