Devi… Sridevi…

Posted on February 25, 2018

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Read the full article on Film Companion, here: http://www.filmcompanion.in/sridevi-kapoor-death-obituary/

A Madras boy remembers the actress, the star who could do everything every kind of director wanted her to do.

G
rowing up in the seventies and eighties, in Madras, meant you grew up with Sridevi. Actors and actresses, those days, made a ton of movies a year, working in multiple shifts, across multiple languages. So Sridevi was everywhere in Tamil and Telugu cinema. There wasn’t a number system those days. At least in the south Indian press, titles like “Queen Bee” or “Numero Uno” did not exist. In the sixties, Saroja Devi was a top actress, and so were Savithri and Jayalalitha. In the seventies, Sridevi was popular, and so was Sripriya. “Popular,” those days, meant they starred in many films with up-and-comer young stars like Kamalahasan (the spelling change to “Kamal Haasan” was a while away) and Rajinikanth.

But Sridevi was special. It was a time Tamil cinema was changing. Directors like Bharathiraja, Mahendran and Balu Mahendra — even K Balachander, whose seventies’ style is markedly more “cinematic” than what he did in the preceding decade — were finding ways of expression that were different from those of melodrama monarchs like P Bhimsingh. And Sridevi fit into that mould as well. She fit into every mould, really. In Hindi cinema, they called her the ultimate “switch-on, switch-off” actress. That must have been true, for she certainly did not have a great deal of life experience to draw from, having grown up in the studios, in front of the cameras from when she was a child.

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