MUMBAI:Shock and grief hit the country today as Bollywood icon Sridevi, loved by millions for her roles in movies like “Mr India”, “Chandni” and “Himmatwala”, died of a cardiac arrest in Dubai, where she had gone to attend the wedding of actor and relative Mohit Marwah.
The 54-year-old, who had taken a long break from the movies after her marriage to Boney Kapoor, had returned to the silver screen six years ago with “English Vinglish” and worked in three films since.
The sudden death of the star – who ruled the commercial space and did critically acclaimed films “Sadma” and “Lamhe” and was especially noted for her impeccable timing as a comedienne – has shocked Bollywood and legions of her fans.
“She will be in the textbooks of Indian cinema; Sridevi was a complete actor in her own right, flawless and dignified,” said Subhash Ghai, who was her director in ‘Karma’ in 1986, when Sridevi was still finding her foothold in Bollywood.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his condolences.
Saddened by the untimely demise of noted actor Sridevi. She was a veteran of the film industry, whose long career included diverse roles and memorable performances. My thoughts are with her family and admirers in this hour of grief. May her soul rest in peace: PM @narendramodi
— PMO India (@PMOIndia) February 25, 2018
Over a five-decade career, the actor who made her debut on silver screen at the age of four in Tamil movie Thoonaivan, had worked in 300 films. She made her entry in Bollywood in 1975 with the blockbuster romance Julie, but had also ruled the Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Hindi, and Kannada film industry. In 2013, she received Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award.
A shy introvert in real life, Sridevi came alive in front of the cameras. “After camera, start sound…she just transformed…and stay in her character self until ‘cut’ was said…she was a bijlee in front of the camera,” Subhash Ghai said.
Kamal Haasaan, her co-star in ‘Sadma’, the film which catapulted Sridevi to stardom and a proved her finesse in a challenging role, tweeted:
Have witnessed Sridevi’s life from an adolescent teenager to the magnificeint lady she became. Her stardom was well deserved. Many happy moments with her flash through my mind including the last time I met her. Sadma’s lullaby haunts me now. We’ll miss her
— Kamal Haasan (@ikamalhaasan) February 25, 2018
In the ’80s, though Bollywood was dominated by male superstars, Sridevi’s luminous style and impeccable comic timing brought her the tag of Bollywood’s first woman superstar. Her name, most of the times, guaranteed a film’s success and her dance moves in songs like “Hawa Hawai”, the sultry “Kaate nahi kat-te” and the snake dance in “Nagina” were copied by legions of fans.
“She was a shy person, but after we started working we shared a good rapport as actors… Sridevi was a complete actress by her own right…emotions came easily to her”, Rishi Kapoor told NDTV, who acted opposite her in Nagina and Chandni – both hits at the boxoffice.
Filmmaker Shekhar Kapur said “with Sridevi gone, an era is over”.
“Like life turning a new chapter. A beautiful story just ended. An amazing spirit just vanished leaving us with amazing love, memories, and incredible grief,” he tweeted.
Sridevi took a 15-year-long break from movies in 1997, after she got married to producer Boney Kapoor.
She made a searing return in 2012’s “English Vinglish”. From the very first frame it was evident that the actor has lost none of her Mr India charm. As Shashi, the housewife struggling to learn English after being belittled by her family, her performance received rave reviews. The following year, she also made an appearance in Bombay Talkies.
Sridevi stunned fans with her performance as a villainous queen in “Puli”, which also marked her comeback to Tamil cinema after a gap of more than two decades.
Last year, she was seen in revenge-drama – “Mom” – opposite Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Akshaye Khanna. She shot for a special appearance in superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s upcoming film – “Zero” – which releases in December.