Originally published 13 August 2014. Updated March 5, 2018. On February 24, 2018 Sridevi passed away suddenly at the age of 54. She was remembered at the 90th Academy Awards celebration in Los Angeles on March 4, 2018.
With the beauty and elegance of Grace Kelly and the comic timing of Lucille Ball, Sridevi was an Indian film superstar whose light will always shine brightly.
Superstar Sridevi was born on 13 August 1963 in Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu. She began her acting career at the age of four. She went on to work in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada and Hindi films, won five Filmfare awards and many nominations, and became one of the first female superstars in Bollywood. In 1996, she married producer Boney Kapoor, the elder brother of Anil Kapoor - a co-star in many of her films.
In 1997, Sridevi starred in the film Judaai, the last film role before taking time off to focus on raising her family. Fifteen years later she made a triumphant return to the silver screen.
If you are new to Bollywood, here are 5 Sridevi films you should watch.
1. English Vinglish
Release Date: 5 October 2012
Directed by: Gauri Shinde
Music by: Amit Trivedi
Description: Comedy drama. Shashi Godbole (Sridevi), a belittled and insecure Indian housewife travels alone to New York to help organize her niece's wedding. While there, she realizes she must improve her language skills and decides to enroll in an English language class. While organizing a wedding and taking a class create challenges for her, circumstances make her determined to overcome obstacles and master the language.
Why I Love This Film: Watching Sridevi's Shashi evolve from a frustrated, sheltered housewife into a self assured and confident woman who is willing to step out of her comfort zone is refreshing. A Bollywood film with modern sensibilities, the story introduces us to a cast of interesting classroom characters from different cultural backgrounds that all face the difficult task of learning a new language. As the story evolves, we see this wife and mother expand her wings to nurture her classmates as they face their learning (and life) challenges together.
2. Mr. India
Release Date: 29 May 1987
Directed by: Shekhar Kapur | Written by: Salim-Javed
Music by: Laxmikant-Pyarelal | Lyrics by: Javed Akhtar
Description: Science fiction/fantasy comedy drama. Newspaper reporter Seema Sohni (Sridevi) rents out the spare room of Arun Verma (Anil Kapoor), a home for orphan children. She learns that Arun took her as a paying boarder to save his house from international crime boss Mogambo (Amrish Puri) who wants the house for an armory. Seems witnesses Arun's altruistic nature and the struggles he faces and soon becomes involved in helping to support the children. When Arun receives a device that makes in him invisible, he takes on Mogumbo's men as crime fighter "Mr. India". Seema finds herself irrestistibly drawn to Mr. India, not knowing the hero is Arun.
Why I Love This Film: One of the most iconic films of Hindi cinema, this comedy features several memorable and entertaining scenes featuring Sridevi - including her hilarious Miss Hawahawai number, her charming outing as Charlie Chaplin, and her sensual dance "Kate Nahi Katate Ye Din Ye Raat" (also known as "I Love You"). While the film may seem dated compared to modern day films, the story still resonates - thanks to a great cast and a heartfelt story. Mogambo is pleased.
3. Khuda Gawah
English Translation: "God is Witness"
Release Date: 8 May 1992
Directed by: Mukul S. Anand
Music by: Laxmikant-Pyarelal
Description: Epic romance drama. Badshah Khan (Amitabh Bachchan) is the head of an Afghan tribe who falls in love with Benazir (Sridevi), the leader of a rival tribe. In order to prove his love for her, she demands he find and destroy Habibulla, the man who killed her father. Badshah tracks down Habibulla in India, but in fulfilling his promise to Benazir, he agrees to return to India to fulfill jail time for his crime. Badshah marries Benazir then returns to India. Circumstances lead to an extended jail term. When he is finally released he discovers that his grown daughter Mehndi (Sridevi), who he never met, has come to find him.
Why I Love This Film: Filmed in India, Afghanistan, Nepal and Bhutan, this is a beautiful story told on a grand scale and Sridevi is the perfect heroine to step into the double role of mother and daughter. As Benazir, she is a strong-willed leader who can hold her own in a world dominated by men. She is also passionate and once she gives her heart away, she is lost. As the daughter Mehndi, Sridevi is a youthful spirit who is trusting and innocent. Initially unprepared to learn the true story about her family, she embraces the truth and makes it her mission to bring the story to a fulfilling resolution.
English Translation: "Moments"
Release Date: 22 November 1991
Directed by: Yash Chopra | Written by: Honey Irani, Rahi Masoom Raza
Music by: Shiv-Hari
Description: Romance drama. Virendra "Viren" Kapoor (Anil Kapoor) travels to Rajasthan with his governess, Dai Jaa (Waheeda Rehman). He meets the beautiful Pallavi (Sridevi) and he instantly falls in love with her but she is in love with Siddharth. Viren is heartbroken but, to fulfill Pallavi's father's dying wish, he arranges the wedding between Siddharth and Pallavi. Allowing Pallavi to live her life happily, Viren leaves for London. A year into the marriage, Siddharth and Pallavi are killed in a tragic accident. They leave behind an infant daughter Pooja (Sridevi) who is raised by Dai Jaa and supported by Viren who returns periodically on Pallavi's death anniversary. As Pooja grows up, she looks more and more like her mother and Viren's hidden feelings begin to rise to the surface.
Why I Love This Film: Another dual-role film for Sridevi that captivates with the clearly defined differences in personalities. Pallavi is confident and thoughtful while her daughter Pooja is brash and listens to her heart. While Pallavi is indifferent to Viren's feelings, Pooja won't take no for an answer when it comes to love. In their own ways, Pallavi and Pooja celebrate life and love unaware that they are the lights about which Viren's life revolves.
English Translation: "Separation"
Release Date: 1 February 1997
Directed by: Raj Kanwar | Written by: Prakash Raj, S.V. Krishna Reddy
Music by: Nadeem-Shravan
Description: Drama. Kajal (Sridevi) is a married young mother who is unhappy with her station in life. While she loves her family, Kajal secretly craves life's more extravagant pleasures, things her low-income husband Raaj Varma (Anil Kapoor) cannot afford. When Janhvi Sahni (Urmila Matondkar ) - the rich niece of Raaj's boss - falls in love with Raaj, she offers Kajal an obscene amount of money for her husband's hand in marriage. Seeing an opportunity to live the rich life she always dreamed of, Kajal forces Raaj to agree to this relationship and "sells" him to Janhvi while maintaining a common-law relationship.
Why I Love This Film: Despite the unwavering love of her husband, Kajal cannot be satisfied with what she has. She thinks she deserves the best things in life - and the disappointments of not getting what she wants hits her hard. Her childish desire for monetary possessions make her actions cringeworthy. As she sinks deeper into her greedy lifestyle we wonder how Raaj can put up with her. With comic relief provided by Johnny Lever as Kajal's brother and Paresh Rawal as the ever-present landlord with a million questions, this memorable and unique film offers a performance by Sridevi that you won't forget.
Not sure which film to watch first? The following playlist features trailers of or scenes from each of these five films.
If you liked this, check out our Friday Five posts.