Sridevi — the full story

Farewell Sridevi, you will be missed

On Sunday, as the nation woke up to the news of actor Sridevi’s death, its ripples were deeply felt in the Telugu film industry. Her appeal spanned across generations of movie lovers, and having worked with two generations of actors as a child artiste and later as a leading lady, she shared a bond of mutual respect with several members of the Telugu film industry.

Kshana Kshanam, Govinda Govinda, Aakhari Poratam and Jagadeka Veerudu Atiloka Sundari are among the films that come to mind immediately to the generation that grew up watching movies in the late 80s and early 90s. Her last film in Telugu was the 1994 release S.P Parashuram co-starring Chiranjeevi.

Sridevi, the impeccable actor, had begun to shine much before these films. Transcending from a child actor to a young child-woman, she took on complex roles that called for mature, nuanced performances in the late 70s and early 80s, especially in Tamil films directed by legendary filmmakers K. Balachander, Mahendran, Bharathiraja and Balu Mahendra. This was the period when Tamil cinema revelled in discovering the several acting facets of three of its rising stars – Sridevi, Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth.

One of her films with these two superstars, Padaharella Vayasu, was helmed by K. Raghavendra Rao. A remake of the path-breaking Tamil film 16 Vayathinile, it retained the essence of the Bharathiraja’s original story while weaving in the Telugu milieu. Sridevi’s earliest films as a child actor in Telugu include Maa Nanna Nirdoshi, Agni Pareeksha and Badi Pantulu.

It is surprising to look back and think that she had acted as a child with Krishna and later was cast as his heroine. Sridevi stepped into the part of a heroine at a time the industry was going through a change, with the older actors still holding sway before the next generation took over. She was cast as the leading lady opposite Krishna, NTR and ANR, and later went on to act with Nagarjuna, Venkatesh and Chiranjeevi.

All through the 70s, 80s and until the mid-90s, she shifted seamlessly between different languages and industries, holding her own amid a slew of superstars. The Indian film industry is still largely male-centric and it isn’t easy for female actors to leave their mark. Sridevi left a lasting impression on every industry she worked in. No mean feat.

Ram Gopal Varma has declared that he wrote Kshana Kshanam, hoping desperately that Sridevi would like it and act in his film. An ardent fan of Sridevi, Varma gave us a memorable film that has been and will be watched repeatedly by film-lovers.

A less known and underrated performance of Sridevi also comes from Oka Radha Iddaru Krishnulu co-starring Kamal Haasan and directed by Kodanda Rami Reddy.

In the 80s and early 90s, though her focus was on Hindi cinema where she ruled the roost, in her interviews, she often stated that she missed the Telugu and Tamil industries where she felt at home.

Her last Hindi film Mom (2017) had a significant Hyderabad connection. The story was penned by Kona Venkat, who shares the credit with the film’s director Ravi Udyawar and screenplay writer Girish Kohli.

It was also widely stated in film industry circles that she was approached by S.S. Rajamouli to play the part of Sivagami in Baahubali, which later went to Ramya Krishnan, and that Sridevi was opted for Tamil film Puli instead.

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Printable version | Oct 17, 2021 6:09:42 AM |

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