Sridevi has captivated audiences with her beauty, charm, and extraordinary performances, and is regarded as one of the greatest actresses of Indian cinema. A prodigious talent, she ruled the screens of South India, and later Bollywood, in a career that spanned over twenty years.
The star acted in Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, Malayalam, and Kannada films, and she is cited as “The First Female Superstar of Indian Cinema.” She has won four Filmfare Best Actress Awards – two for Hindi films, and one each for Tamil and Telugu films.
After an absence of nearly 15 years from mainstream movies, Sridevi’s recent comeback film English Vinglish (2012) won her many accolades; the American entertainment weekly Variety wrote in its review that it found Sridevi “Disarmingly charming in a manner that recalls Audrey Hepburn.”.
Born in Tamil Nadu, Sridevi made her debut in 1967 at the age of four as a child Muruga (a Hindu deity) in the Tamil film Kandan Karunai. This was followed by a number of Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam movies in which she performed as a child artist. As a twelve-year-old, Sridevi played the sister of the lead actress, Lakshmi, in the film Julie.
As Sridevi grew into a teenager, she started playing lead roles in South Indian movies. Her first break was in 1976 as a lead actress in the Tamil movie Moondru Mudichi, directed by K. Balachander. Sridevi played opposite the rising stars Rajnikanth and Kamal Haasan. The movie was a big hit, and she was teamed with the same two actors in various movies that followed.
PATH TO SUCCESS
The first movie featuring Sridevi that was released in 1977 was Gayathri – followed by Kavikkuyil and the blockbuster movie Padhinaaru Vayathinile, starring opposite Kamal Haasan and Rajnikanth. The Telugu remake of this movie, Padaharella Vayasu, was made in 1978 starring Sridevi and Chandra Mohan.
Sridevi’s success continued in movies such as Bharathi Raja’s Sigappu Rojakkal, SP. Muthuraman’s Priya, Karthika Deepam, Varumayin Niram Sivappu, Aakali Rajyam in Telugu, Meendum Kokila, and so on.
In 1982, Sridevi starred opposite Kamal Haasan in the super-hit movie Moondram Pirai. She received critical acclaim for her performance as a mentally-unhinged, childlike woman from a brothel who is rescued by a school teacher and is looked after by him in his hillside home.
Sridevi made her debut in Hindi films opposite Amol Palekar in the movie Solva Sawan. This movie was also a remake of Padhinaaru Vayathinile, but the movie did not do as well in Hindi. However, she won the hearts of young people through her next movie, Himmathwala (the remake of Telugu movie Ooriki Monagadu), starring with Jitendra. The film became a huge box office success and it guaranteed her status in Bollywood. Sridevi then starred in many commercial hit films opposite Jitendra, such as Tohfa, Mawaali, and Justice Chaudhry.
For such a naturally talented actress, Sridevi’s movies had not entirely exploited her talents. The movie Sadma changed that and showcased her talents to the full. The film is regarded as the all-time best performance of the actress and was also a huge commercial success. In 1986 came Nagina, which was the first women-centric film Sridevi had made. The film also became a huge hit and was the second-highest grossing movie of that year. Nagina firmly established Sridevi as a superstar in Hindi cinema. She has also acted with all of the senior stars of the Tamil and Telugu film industries, such as Shivaji
Ganesan, MGR, N. T. Ramarao, and Nageshwara Rao.
Sridevi’s last movie in her uninterrupted career was Judaai in 1997; she quit acting then in order to spend more time with her children.
Sridevi is the first Indian actress ever to gain nationwide popularity. She is the only actress to date who has starred in all the major Indian film industries – Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, Malayalam, and Kannada.
Sridevi was once approached by Steven Spielberg to play a role in the English movie Jurassic Park. Since she had a very busy schedule at that time, she could not accept the offer.
Like many other actresses, she returned to acting in a TV serial, Maalini Iyer (2004-2005) and captured the hearts of her audiences through her comic timing. The glamour queen also appeared as a judge in a dance show named Kaboom in 2005.
After 14 years away from films, Sridevi returned to movies in English Vinglish, in which she portrayed a housewife who struggles to learn English. The comeback movie was made in both the Tamil and Hindi languages and was released along with the dubbed Telugu version in October 2012. Amitabh Bachchan and Ajith Kumar made their guest appearances in the Hindi and Tamil versions, respectively.
Before the official release of English Vinglish, the film premiered at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, where the film and Sridevi’s performance received a standing ovation. Prior to this, the movie was screened for the Indian press and it received critical acclaim. Several critics declared that it was a “must watch” movie. After the Toronto Premiere, some international media outlets hailed Sridevi as the “Meryl Streep of India”.
Sridevi was born on August 13, 1963 to Rajeshwari and Ayyappan in Sivakasi, the cracker manufacturing town in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. Her father was a lawyer and her mother acted in supporting roles in Telugu movies. She has a sister and two step-brothers.
She married film producer Boney Kapoor (the older brother of film stars Anil Kapoor and Sanjay Kapoor), and they have two daughters – Jhanvi and Khushi. Sridevi left her film career in 1997 to raise her daughters.
Sridevi’s comeback in Hindi and Tamil film industries was after 14 and 26 years of absence, respectively. The movie English Vinglish was a big hit in India as well as overseas. Her husband, Boney Kapoor, is planning to produce another movie starring Sridevi. Fans may look forward to more glorious films by this queen of Indian movies.