by Asjad Nazir


ONE of the greatest leading ladies in the history of Indian cinema, Sridevi has had a glittering career that saw her start off as successful child star and rise up to become the undisputed queen of Bollywood. She took a step back from the spotlight to get married and made a triumphant return in 2012 with hit film English Vinglish.

The legendary actress returns to the big screen in this week’s big Bollywood release Mom, a drama about a determined mother seeking revenge. To celebrate the much loved leading lady returning to the big screen, Eastern Eye went back through her impressive career to present an all you need to know A-Z.

A is for Awards: When you look at what some lesser leading ladies from the modern era have won, Sridevi perhaps hasn’t received the awards she deserves through her incredible career. The notable accolades she has won include Filmfare Best Actress Awards for Lamhe and ChaalBaaz respectively. She also won a Filmfare Best Actress (Telugu) for Kshana Kshanam and Filmfare Best Actress (Tamil) for Meendum Kokila.

B is for Breaks: A young Hrithik Roshan had his first speaking role as a child artist opposite Sridevi in Bhagwan Dada (1986). Aftab Shivdasani made his debut as a child actor in Sridevi classic Mr India (1987).

Sridevi made her comeback in English Vinglish.

C is for Comeback: The actress made her comeback after a long hiatus in hit film English Vinglish. The award-winning comedy drama about a quiet housewife learning to speak English to stop her husband and son mocking her, won critical acclaim and got Sridevi Best Actress nominations at all the major Bollywood award ceremonies.

D is for Debut: After rip roaring success in south Indian cinema, Sridevi made her Hindi debut in 1979 coming of age drama Solva Sawan. She would hit the Bollywood big time four years later in 1983 classics Himmatwala and Sadma.

E is for Earnings: Growing up first as a child artist and then as a teenage leading lady, Sridevi was the main income earner in her family. From 1985 to 1992 she was the highest paid Hindi actress and then from 1993 to 1996 the second highest paid, before she stepped away.

F is for Flop: The most high profile failure of Sridevi’s career was flop film Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja (1993). The project went way over budget and at the time of release was one of the costliest failures of all time. Talking of the film, original director Shekhar Kapur left half way through and an unknown Arshad Warsi worked as a choreographer on its title track.

Chandni brought back romance to Bollywood.

G is for Game changer: Whether it was her acting style, choices or dress sense, Sridevi had a lot of game changing moments in Bollywood. Her movie Chandni (1989) reintroduced romance into Bollywood and started the trend of Indian films being shot in Switzerland.

Himmatwala was a huge success and made Sridevi a star.

H is for Himmatwala: The movie that turned Sridevi into a huge Bollywood star was Himmatwala, which was the biggest box office success of 1983. The action comedy also turned Sridevi and Jeetendra into a hit pairing. They would do 16 films together between 1983 and 1988, with 11 being huge hits.

I is for Influence: Whether it has been acting style, dancing or fashion sense, a massive number leading ladies in the Tamil, Telugu and Hindi film industries have been influenced by Sridevi in some way.

J is for Judaai: The last movie Sridevi starred in as a leading lady before stepping away from the spotlight was hit 1997 drama Judaai. The remake of Telugu film Shubhalagnam saw Sridevi play a moneygrabbing housewife willing to sell her husband. The movie was later remade into TV series Main Lakshmi Tere Aangan Ki.

K is for Kids: The legendary leading lady has two daughters named Jahanvi and Khushi with husband Boney Kapoor. Both look set to follow in their mother’s footsteps and become actresses.

L is for Lakme: The actress made a blockbuster appearance as a showstopper at Lakme Fashion Week in 2008. Such was her impact that she was invited back onto the catwalk by numerous top designers including Neeta Lulla and Sabyasachi Mukherjee, keen to cash in on her iconic appeal.

Sridevi returned after a 7 year hiatus to the surprise of fans.

M is for Malini Iyer: After a seven-year hiatus Sridevi surprised fans by returning to acting with a leading role in Sahara sitcom Malini Iyer (2004–2005). The TV series revolved around a south Indian Tamil woman who marries a Punjabi guy and how she brings the contrasting cultures together.

N is for No: The in-demand superstar has turned down a number of high-profile projects throughout her career, including a role in Hollywood mega-hit Jurassic Park. Super hit Bollywood films she turned down included Beta and Darr. She also turned down a chance to play Amitabh Bachchan’s love interest in 2000 multi-starrer Mohabbatein.

O is Out now: The latest Bollywood film starring the actress, Mom is on general release now. The impressive supporting cast of the family drama includes Akshaye Khanna and Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Not surprisingly all those associated with Mom have praised the actress and her performance in the powerful revenge drama.

P is for Painting: The actress developed a passion for painting during her time away from films. In March 2010, an international art auction house sold her paintings with the money raised being donated to charity.

Q is for Queen: During the 1980s Sridevi was the undisputed queen of Bollywood. Such was her incredible success that she packed an entire generation of leading ladies into retirement including heroines who ruled the 1970s. Sridevi’s popularity grew so much that despite having a guest appearance in Janbaaz, she completely overshadowed the film’s lead heroine Dimple Kapadia.

R is for Relations: Marrying movie mogul Boney Kapoor means the actress has a number of very famous relatives. These include brother-inlaw Anil Kapoor, niece Sonam Kapoor and stepson Arjun Kapoor.

S is for Sivakasi: The actress was born Shree Amma Yanger Ayyapan in Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu on August 13, 1963 to a Tamil father and Telugu mother.

Sridevi had huge success in Tamil and Teluga films.

T is for Tamil and Telugu: The actress had huge success in Tamil and Telugu cinema opposite the biggest leading men including Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth. Many of her successful south Indian releases were remade in Bollywood including Moondram Pirai, which won her a Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actress.

U is for Undercover: At the height of her career Sridevi had a secret love affair with married actor Mithun Chakraborty. There were even reports the two of them secretly got married. Unfortunately for the actress Mithun was unwilling to leave his first wife Yogeeta Bali and she was left heartbroken.

V is for Voice: Despite being the queen of Bollywood in the 1980s the south Indian actress couldn’t speak Hindi properly and had to get her dialogues dubbed by someone else’s voice. She dubbed her dialogues for the first time in hit drama Chandni (1989). Yesteryear actress Naaz had dubbed for her in her previous films and Rekha had dubbed for her in Aakhree Raasta (1986).

W is for Wedding: At the height of her career, Sridevi received high profile marriage proposals from around the world. But it was married movie mogul Boney Kapoor who sparked a relationship with the actress. In 1996 he divorced his first wife Mona Shourie and married Sridevi. They have been happily married since and maintained a working relationship that goes back to the 1980s.

X is for X Factor: The fact Sridevi has a magic touch is illustrated by numerous polls and lists that name her as perhaps the greatest Indian leading lady of all time. She is one of the very few who conquered various languages and came out on top. The magical quality influenced many and turned her into one of the hottest pin-ups of all time.

She started her career as a four-year old in a career spanning 49 years.

Y is for Youngster: Believe it or not, but Sridevi has been in the film industry for 49 years. She started her career as a four-year old and enjoyed massive success as a child star in south Indian cinema. Baby Sridevi’s performance in Poombatta (1971) (in Malayalam) won her the Kerala State Film Award for Best Child Artist. She made her Bollywood debut as a supporting artist in 1975 film Julie when she was 12-years-old.

Z is for Zodiac: Sridevi is a Leo and lives up to the star sign’s fearless reputation. She has used this confidence in a glittering career to take on pretty much every challenge Indian cinema has thrown her way.