Sridevi — the full story

Malayalam was her springboard for stardom

In the opening sequence of the 1971 film, Poompatta, you would see this wide-eyed little girl in a frock, her hair tied behind with a ribbon, playing a prank on her mother.

The little girl, Sridevi, went on to capture the attention of an entire nation, becoming one of the most admired actresses of all time in Indian cinema. She also won quite a few awards, but her first was for Poompatta – the State Award for the best child artiste. In her formative years, Sridevi had appeared in several Malayalam films including Kuttavum Shikshayum, Aalinganam, Thulavarsham, Sathyavan Savithri, Angeekaram and Aa Nimisham; a couple of decades later she would return to do Devaragam.

Sheela was the heroine of Aa Nimisham. “That was the only film I did with her, but we were close all along and were in fact neighbours in Chennai,” Sheela told The Hindu. “My house at Poes Garden is near hers and she used to stay there whenever she visited Chennai.”

She said she had high regard for Sridevi as an actor. “She was stunningly beautiful, was a wonderful dancer, and extremely talented,” she said. “I loved her in Hindi films like Mr. India – that film ought to have been titled Miss India – and Chandni.”

“She was very friendly. I last met her at a function in Chennai three months ago. Soon after she began acting in Hindi films, her mother asked her to cut her hair, which was long and thick. I had to console the deeply upset Sridevi who just would not stop weeping.”

Though it was after Sadma that she started to get noticed in Hindi, her first film in that language was directed by a Malayali director K.S. Sethumadhavan. The film was Julie. “The young Sridevi was my neighbour at T. Nagar in Chennai,” said Sethumadhavan. “I felt she would be the right girl to play Lakshmi’s younger sister. She had also played an important role in Kuttavum Shikshayum, which I had produced. Yes, I would have loved to work with her more, but she had become too big a star.”


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Printable version | Oct 26, 2021 3:14:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/malayalam-was-her-springboard-for-stardom/article22852704.ece

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