Hindi Cinema has lost its most shining star. If you were growing up in the 1980s, there was no way you could be oblivious to the Sridevi magic on screen. She signed the celluloid with her mere presence. Those impish eyes, those facial expressions, those dances are all memories now. She ruled the silver screen like no one else. With a string of box office successes, she was the first female superstar of Bollywood. Films were made with her in mind. Her talent was so brilliant that no one could match up to her.
We remember the Icon by listing her best Hindi films.
The coming of Mondram Pirai in Tamil and Kamal Haasan’s growing popularity in the Hindi markets, the film was Sadma in Hindi and it catapulted Sridevi into a list of the most promising young actors. Playing a child-like adult in a complicated and tragic love story, Sridevi exhibited the same charm and skill that got her noticed in her Hindi debut.
Her first major film with Jeetendra. Himmatwala was a remake of the Telugu hit Ooriki Monagadu (1981) and Sri’s role was really to fit into the commercial mould of a Hindi film heroine. Not only did the film’s blockbuster success kick off the Jeetendra-Sridevi partnership, it established Sri as one of the best dancing actors in the country.
Tohfa released to great fanfare at the theatres. This classic love triangle gave Jayapradha a meatier role but Sri’s lavish dances with Jeetendra made the film a runaway hit. To date, the song Tohfa tohfa… laya laya is remembered with great enthusiasm.
Sridevi played a young and enigmatic Rajni who’s accused of being a shape-shifting serpent by the villainous Amrish Puri. Sri’s love story with Rishi Kapoor in the film was cute but what stole the show was her nagin act. The song Main teri dushman with Amrish Puri as the dastardly snake charmer is now the stuff of movie legends.
Mr India (1987)
It was the huge popularity of Mr India that made Sri into a female superstar. This was Anil Kapoor’s film all the way but Sri Devi come up with moments of brilliance and stolel the show. Her bubbly portrayal of Seema, her unforgettable performance in Hawa hawaii and her untamed sensuousness in Kaante nahi kat the have made Mr India one of Hindi cinema’s best films ever.
The film’s music made platinum success and rare feat for movies of the late eighties. The film breathed new life into the careers of Rishi Kapoor and director Yash Chopra. But more than anything else, the film established Sridevi as the actress to beat. Her white costumes revolutionized fashion and everyone wanted the Chandni look.
She played twins the tamed and submissive Anju and the boisterous and go-getting Manju. Manju helps Anju turn the tables on Anupam Kher and Rohini Hattangdi’s scheming characters. Success came in the form of box office returns and her first Hindi Filmfare Award for Best Actress.
In Lamhe she played another double role but it was unlike any played before. The film’s progressive themes of love and irony gave Sri ample room to display her acting chops. The film didn’t emulate Chandni’s success but Sri managed to prove that she was an actor to reckon with as she won the Filmfare Best Actor (Female) Award.
Khuda Gawah (1993)
The film was talked-about because it’s said Amitabhsent a truck full of roses to make Sirei Devi say yes to the project. Her performance matched Amitabh’s larger-than-life character and the film has gained a cult following over the years.
The story was unique and so was Sri’s character that lets her husband marry another woman for a large sum of money. Even after 18 years, Sri brought her characteristic energy to moment of comedy and high drama and made Judaai her last memorable performance.
English Vinglish (2012)
She made a comeback with this delightful film about an Indian expat who overcomes her inherent shyness and lives a more fulfilling life after joining an English class. The transformation from a submissive housewife to a more assertive figure looked natural and was all done with great verve and grace.
Sridevi was at her angriest in Mom, tracking down her daughters rapists and exacting revenge one after the other. She looked like an avenging angel in the film but there was a softer side to her as well, which too was deftly brought out.