It will be needless to say that Sridevi’s death is an irreparable loss not only to the movie industry, but to a generation of women who grew up during the times when movies were largely about machismo, unrealistic male protagonists and largely sidelined and stereotypical female movie characters.
Sridevi commanded a presence like no other heroine of her times could. Movies and characters were woven around her and she brought to the table, a lot more than entertainment. This was, in itself a feat, which no other female actor could accomplish.
She came as a breath of her fresh air in an industry which was used to doling out weepy mothers who needed their sons to pay for their cough medicines to sisters who needed their brothers to avenge their rapes to married women who needed husbands to run their home and hearth.
Every character she played in all her movies, there was a strong woman inside of her.
The titular Chandani…she taught us that it was better to walk off from a toxic relationship rather than settle for the abuse.
Pooja from Lamhe, she knew exactly what she wanted and came armed with a game plan for it.
The fiery and streetsmart Anju from Chaalbaaz, one of my favourite characters…she taught us how to live life exactly on our own terms and kick ass, whenever required.
Her Shashi Godbole, from English Vinglish taught us that nothing…and no one in this world, can stop us from getting where we want to be. She taught us about grace and humility and that no matter who you were or where you came from, you could leave your mark on this world.
With her swan song, Mom, she taught us that it was always best to take matters in our own hands instead of waiting for some messiah to save us.
What she gave the film industry, and most importantly to all of us women…were characters from which we could draw inspiration and most of all, strength.
Sridevi never played second fiddle in any of her movies. In fact, even during a time when she was surrounded with megastars like Amitabh Bachchan, Rajnikant, Sunny Deol, Rishi Kapoor and Anil Kapoor, she single handedly took over the screen whenever she came on it. I can’t think of a single actress who brought such a plethora of female characters to Indian movies.
Apart from movies, her life too, played out exactly what she wanted. She did the roles she believed in, married the men who she wanted to, in spite all the odds, took a backseat from her thriving career and gave her hundred percent to her daughters, who I am sure, are as strong as her and finally, came back to give us two well written and unforgettable characters, that of Shashi Godbole from English Vinglish…and Devki, from Mom. This was just the beginning…but the end came, much too soon.
In Sridevi, it’s not one actress that we have lost. What we have lost is all those future women characters who could have continued to inspire millions of young women to come in the future. Her loss, if anything at all, has left a Sridevi shaped hole in this universe.