Those who know me, know my devotion to Sridevi. So, it would be unfair for me to not write a post on this regal woman. As an actor, she is not someone who moulds herself into any role with ease. She has her limitations – a thick Tamil accent which she has been unable to shed even after years in the Hindi film industry and a screechy dialog delivery. To me she has been and always will be a child woman – a million expressions a minute (which I understand can be irritating to those who don’t like her) and that unique quality where she can go from conveying “innocence” to “sensuous” or “evil” in a nanosecond. Her fans are in millions and so are those who find her absolutely annoying. There is no in-between. Either you get the Devi or you don’t. No other woman in the last few decades commands such a strong screen presence as her, once she is on, everything else blends into woodwork. She comes back to light up the screen this October with what looks like a fun little film, called “English Vinglish”. The trailer was released yesterday (August 13th) on Sri’s 49th birthday. It looks like everything a Sri fan could ask for. Her histrionics are on full display and the impatient fan in me cannot wait for October 4th.
Here’s a listing of some of my favorite Sri songs/scenes:
Mr India (1987)
This scene is iconic for any female actor. The male actors have had their bit of doing full-blown madcap comedy sequences but rarely does a female actor in Hindi cinema gets an opportunity to anchor such scenes. Sri is an absolute delight in this scene: I will put her in the leagues of Mehmood when it comes to physical comedy. Her comic timing is impeccable!
Morni baaga maa
The Thar desert has seen many a princesses, but when Sri’s Pallavi from Lamhe scorched the dunes, the desert saw its first Queen. I still skip a heartbeat with her expressions for the lines “jaane kaun ghadee mein nikale saajan ghar se…”. Haunting! (4:07 to 4:29 in the video below)
A girl becomes a woman. There is only Sri on the screen, nothing more. She makes it seem easy, but to hold the audience’s attention through an entire song, without any props, requires the kind of chops only stars like her can deliver.
Chaalbaaz (1992), Chandni (1990), Mr India (1987)
Sri is not a trained dancer. She is an actor first and then a dancer, which is evident in almost all her “dance” numbers. Some of these have become legendary and iconic: Hawa Hawaii, Mere Haathon Mein and Na jaane kahaan se aayi hain are the three that immediately come to mind. The popularity of these songs is primarily because of her “performance” and not the choreography or her dance moves (which are technically speaking, stiff compared to other actresses who have had professional training in dancing).
Mere haathon mein
Na jaane kahaan se aayi hai
Main sasural nahi jaaongi
The 80s and the 90s were awash with many kitschy abysmal movies and of course Sri was a part of many of these. However, she always seemed to be giving her 100% regardless of how absolutely outlandish and bizarre the movies and her characters were. A mark of a true professional. Check her out in this song where she parodies a number of yesteryear heroines with great aplomb. Watching this I must say her ability to mimic others has been criminally under-utilized. Do you also think she would have been a great cast member on SNL?
Khuda Gawaah (1992)
Tu na ja mere badshaah
Sri is devastatingly radiant in this song which in my opinion is one of the best compositions by Laxmikant-Pyarelal. Watch her trying to soak in every last glimpse of her Badshaah Khan towards the end of the song, breaks my heart in a million pieces each time I see it. She adds an amazing magnificence to the incredible setting of the barren mountainous landscape of Afghanistan.
The buzkashi scene: Those eyes, uff those eyes!
Chandni – Tere mere hothon pe
I am leaving my personal favorite to the last. If there was ever an award just for “who can carry a saree the best”, it has to be hands down, Sri. Sensuous, elegant and effortlessly stylish – the saree was meant for her. Watch her sway and walk and turn, it’s magic!
Pardon the number of superlatives and flattery adjectives in this post – an unabashed fan here!