Devi… Sridevi…

Posted on February 25, 2018


Read the full article on Film Companion, here:

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

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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