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Sridevi: A full Moon among stars
It is hard to believe that actress Sridevi is no more. And it is enough to make us question the absurdity of life. Here was a woman, in the pink of health, at the peak of her fame, looking forward to her daughter's debut in the very industry which groomed her into a superstar, maturing with age like fine wine even in her performances, snatched away, rudely by death, in the most unexpected manner.

Who would have imagined that a wedding would lead to the funeral (reminding one of the Hugh Grant movie "Four Weddings and a Funeral", of all things) of one of the most loved actresses who dominated the Indian film industry for five decades! It made us realise once more that if there's one thing that we can never take for granted, it's life.

Beginning her life as a child artist, Sridevi acted in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada films before migrating to Bollywood. In Tamil, some of her most memorable films include 'Varumayin Niram Sivappu' and 'Moondram Pirai' with Kamal Haasan who also began his film career as a child actor. She had a naivety and innocence about her which made her seem at times like a child trapped in a woman's body. But she could also be sensuous enough to make male hearts go dhak-dhak as in the popular song 'Kaate nahi...' in Mr India, where she romances the invisible hero.

She established herself in Bollywood with films like Himmatwala, Chaalbaaz, Mr India, Naagin, Khuda Gawah, Chandni and Lamhe. She had it all - fame, success and popularity - but she gave it all up when she married Boney Kapoor and retreated into domesticity.

Daughter Jhanvi was preparing to make her Bollywood debut when Sridevi passed away in Dubai where she had gone to attend a wedding. It is said that she accidentally drowned in the hotel room's bathtub after losing consciousness. An autopsy revealed traces of alcohol in her blood, so it is possible that she slipped and fell, hitting her head. Although some disgusting sections of the media, as usual, tried to boost TRPs by floating murder and conspiracy theories, most people took them with a pinch of salt.

Interestingly, film director Ram Gopal Varma who claims to know the actress and her family well, posted an open letter on Facebook, wherein he revealed that she was mired in debts and was a very lonely and unhappy woman who was controlled by the people in her life which he likened to that of a bird in a cage. We will never know because she is not around to corroborate or refute it. Even if she had been alive she may have ignored it as she was known to be very shy and reclusive.

Sridevi's appeal was all-encompassing. Men found her sensuous and women found her empowering. But beyond the persona of the attractive and feisty women she often played on screen, lurked a young girl who kept her insecurities close to her heart. As the first female superstar of Bollywood, one could say she changed the rules of the game by making the heroine central to the storyline. The twin roles of the timid and spunky sisters she played in Chaalbaaz could well be the story of her life.

Whether her marriage to Boney Kapoor brought financial stability or not, it certainly seems to have brought some measure of emotional security and after the birth of her daughters, Sridevi certainly did seemed to have entered a happy phase in her life. Following a hiatus of 15 years, Sridevi returned with a comeback vehicle that would have been the envy of any actress of mettle - Gauri Shinde's English Vinglish. As the simple and self-effacing housewife, Shashi, who struggles to connect with her English-speaking daughter and husband, she won the hearts of the audience. This was followed by another powerful role in Mom, a tale of vendetta waged by a mother who seeks to destroy the men who raped her stepdaughter even as she fights to be loved and accepted by the girl who is unwilling to betray the memory of her biological dead mother. Ironically, Boney Kapoor, who produced the film, said that it was his 'Taj Mahal' to his beloved wife.

Some have compared Sridevi to Meryl Streep and the comparison is not quite misplaced. Despite her age, she was one of the few actresses who could carry an entire film on her slender shoulders. She was also a fashion icon, the muse of renowned designers like Sabyasachi and Manish Malhotra. The real tragedy of her death lies in the fact that the best was yet to come from this gifted actress. With looks to rival even younger actresses, and performances that were much more nuanced and mature, her second innings was just beginning. She was in the process of re-inventing herself with age-appropriate roles which leveraged her talent and star power.

In a sky glittering with stars, she was the luminous full Moon bathing the world below with ethereal glow. As her funeral cortege slowly wended its way from the Celebration Sports Club to the Vile Parle Crematorium, the roads were filled with legions of fans from all over India who had come to bid on last farewell to Sridevi. It recalled the scene from Varumayin Niram Sivappu or its Hindi remake, Sadma, where Sridevi, cured of her amnesia, sits in her train compartment, impervious to the antics of Kamal Haasan who desperately tries to jog her memory once more about the days they had spent together. In her flower-bedecked glass coffin, the diva lay like a sleeping beauty, impervious to the tears and grief of her fans who clamoured outside for a final look of the woman who coloured their dreams for decades.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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