Sridevi: The Eternal Enigma

Sridevi was such a fine actress that even as details of her sudden demise trickle in from Dubai, her shocked fans across the world half expect her to bounce back with a “Gotcha!” in her characteristic lilt.

As news of the ‘untimely” tragedy gradually sinks in though, Twitter has exploded with condolence messages from far and wide expressing disbelief at the passing away of a superstar. “Oh no,” “This can’t be true,” “Shocking,” “Oh my God,” “Can’t believe,” “Please say it’s a lie” – the devastated cinephiles are at a loss for words. It is indeed a dark day for Indian Cinema, and as one die-hard fan lamented in an ode to the actress on Facebook – “they don’t make them like you anymore!”

Shree Amma Yanger Ayyapan truly was the enigmatic queen of hearts ruling Indian cinema with her beauty, grace and electric screen presence in a career spanning four decades. Her trendsetting performances in movies like Mr India, Chalbaaz, Kshana Kshanam, Chandni, Nagina, Meendum Kokila, Lamhe, and English, Vinglish proved time and again that she was the shining star of the silver screen, the “first pan Indian woman super star defying age and language barriers.”

A recipient of the Padma Shri award and five Filmfare award, her portrayals of the female protagonist broke the stereotype leaving an indelible imprint on the big screen for the new actresses to follow. Be it the shy Shashi coming into her own and lamenting the fact that “Mard khana banaye toh kala hai … aurat banaye toh uska farz hai,” or the hilariously histrionic Manju , a simpering Nehalata or the svelte Chandni, Sridevi, who had acted in over 275 films, knew how to set a million heart aflutter.

“An absolute icon. Gone too soon, #Sridevi. Too soon…” – actress Jacqueline Fernandez’ tweet sums up the overall mood of a heartbroken fraternity. Author Shobhaa De very succinctly summed up the essence of the enigma in an article she wrote last year, “Sridevi has a problem. Sridevi has always had this problem: she is a bit too talented for her own good. While lesser beings get away with chalega performances, we demand a mega-act from Sri every time. For when it is a “Sridevi film” we are talking about, the pressure on Sri to dominate and eat up the screen is non-negotiable.”

Despite her mega success, the acutely shy megastar often said, “all these praises scare me… I feel like a newcomer. It’s a long way to go.” The show then must go on, and wherever you are Sridevi, hope you are looking at millions of your loving fans and thinking: “Jab tum mujhe apna kehte ho … apne pe guroor aa jaata hai!”

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