The Life And Times Of Sridevi, India's First Female Superstar

The Life And Times Of Sridevi, India's First Female Superstar

Sridevi Kapoor, India's first female superstar, an actor par excellence and a true representation of what can be defined as grace and beauty, passed away on 24th February 2018, in a bizarre accident. Her death left a gaping hole in Bollywood and in our lives because Chandni, as everyone lovingly referred to her, had a special place in our hearts. But, even after her death, she will always be remembered for her iconic onscreen roles and the love she had for her children, who were her life in her own words. So, here we are, revisiting her life and witnessing how legends are made.

Her Growing Career

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Sridevi was born in Madras to Ayyapan and Rajeshwaramma on August 14, 1963. At the tender age of 4, she bagged her first role in the Tamil movie Kandan Karunai in 1967. After two years, in 1969, she got her first lead role of Muruga in the movie Thunaivan. She also made her debut in Telugu movies in 1970 with Maa Nanna Nirdoshi. Her exemplary performance in a Telugu movie also won her the Kerala State Film Award for Best Child Artist in 1971. In 1972, she made her debut in Bollywood in Rani Mera Naam. She was all of nine when this happened.

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From 1972-1982, she went on to do numerous movies in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada languages. In fact, 16 Vayathinile in 1977 earned her the Filmfare Special Award - South. Five years later, in 1982, she won another Filmfare Best Actress Award (Tamil) for Meendum Kokila. The same year she also starred in Moondram Pirai, dubbed in Hindi as Sadma, that put Sridevi on the map throughout the country for her portrayal of a child-woman. Sadma also got her a Filmfare nomination and it was thought to be "a milestone in her illustrious career" by Indian Express. This movie also put the pair of Sridevi and Kamal Haasan on the CNN-IBN 2012 list of 'Greatest Romantic Couples on Celluloid'.

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While her debut as lead heroine in Bollywood was Solva Sawaan in 1979, it was the 1983 blockbuster Himmatwala, opposite Jeetendra, that established her foothold in Bollywood and got her the famous sobriquet of 'Thunder Thighs'. The song from the same movie, Naino Mein Sapna, became a rage that year. But it was her Tohfa, the biggest hit of 1984, that established her as a leading Bollywood actress. The on-screen pair of Jeetendra and Sridevi did a total of 16 movies together, out of which only 3 flopped.

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Movies like Mr India, Chandni, Chalbaaz and Lamhe are considered to be some of her most notable performances. She also won Filmfare Best Actress Award for both Lamhe and ChaalBaaz. However, the role that immortalised her in our minds has to be Chandni. Her looks were copied by every girl throughout the nation and Mere haatho mein nau nau choodiya hai, the superhit song was played at all weddings. Another movie that won her international acclaim, especially in Afghanistan, was Khuda Gawah. In the movie, she played the double role of an Afghan warrior and her daughter. 

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Around 1996-97, she went on a break to pay more attention to her family life. Her last movie before the hiatus, Judaai, had critics praising her as well for her performance and said "Who but Sridevi could carry off such an outrageous role with such enthusiastic élan?!"

During her break, she made a few TV appearances before making a comeback with English Vinglish in 2012 

A Controversial Personal Life

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While she was delivering one hit after the other, her personal life seemed to be a little more controversial. After allegedly, dating Mithun Chakraborty for three years, she broke up with him when she found out he wasn't divorced, as he claimed to be. In 1991, she, sadly, lost her father, while she was shooting for Lamhe. Five years later, in 1996, she lost her mother as well, who passed away as a result of complications suffered from an operation that she underwent for a brain tumour. It was the same year Boney Kapoor had an extra-marital affair with her and then later, went on to marry her. He was married to Mona Kapoor at the time and had two kids, Arjun and Anshula. Due to this reason, Sridevi and Boney's marriage was not accepted by the latter's family for the longest time.

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Sridevi got pregnant before she and Boney Kapoor could be officially married. Their first child, Jahnvi Kapoor, was born in 1997 and the second, Khushi Kapoor in 2000. She took a break from the movies to take care of her daughters, who were her lifelines.

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She finally made her successful comeback in English Vinglish in 2012, which won rare reviews, making her one of the only actresses to make a successful comeback after marriage. She also acted in Mom in 2017 which won her critical acclaim as well for playing a mother who is out to get revenge after her daughter is gang-raped. However, her last movie, will be SRK's Zero, in which she has a special appearance. 

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Few months before her untimely demise, she confessed how she wanted to see her elder daughter, Janhvi, rule the silver screen just like she did. Sadly, her dream could not be fulfilled as she passed away before her debut movie.