I am told you are gone, really? This is no time to go. You just started your second innings and, what an innings. Your second innings are all about your soul on the roll. Your Mom and English Vinglish have all of us admiring you for your performance which is, your soul at work. Sridevi, my first memory of watching you in action is your movie Sadma, stellar performance. You were paired with a classic performer, Kamal Hasan, and between two of you accomplished an arduous task of getting a movie on mental health delivered on the dotted line.
Your Hawa Hawaii performance in Mr. India brought shaking of head and eyes together to Indian cinema, so much that even today I can’t mouth Hawa Hawaii without shaking my head and winking/playing with my eyes. And what a “Bijli you gearoed” in that song and that wink before “Asi tusi lassi peeti” had rewind buttons on VCRs going bad. Sridevi, much before Priya Prakash Varrier’s parents winked at each other for the first time, your dance injected viral fever in a whole generation.
Eyes opened, and you were there again, this time on posters of Yash Chopra’s Chandini. In a movie which had Vinod Khanna and Rishi Kapoor, you were the poster girl, literally and figuratively. O Meri Chandini could be heard from more than a few cars at every parking block lot in Connaught Place/ Connaught Circus. You did create holes in pockets of countless “boyfriends” by your “Apni mehboba ko milnae khali haath nahin jaate” being told on MTNL telephone lines.
Sridevi, we all know Sunny Deol has two left legs and even with someone like him, you delivered Na Jane Kahan Se Aayi Hai, none could have dared to pull a song with Sunny Deol without audience leaving the hall, but you delivered a chartbuster and you had girls in DU making “kissi ke hath naan aayegi ye ladki” as their anthem. Your performance in, and as Chaalbaaz moved the bar higher, even for Madhuri Dixit.
Lamhe was an art film curated as a commercial venture by Yash Chopra, none else could’ve done that and none else could’ve played that double role with more élan. Lamhe was of course about Anil Kapoor’s missing mustache but it was your medley song with Anupam Kher which added dollops of humor in this otherwise hypersensitive film.
Not that you were not seen at all after Lamhe, you were around but in a retirement zone or semi-retirement zone, it was never whether you will make a comeback, it was always when and, that when happened with English Vinglish. With a character like Shashi Godbole you reinvented yourself completely. A couple of generations learned through you on how to not be judgmental. Your expressions, your walk, your talk was all asynchronous, what a sense of timing and exemplary execution.
If English Vinglish is about a woman’s determination so is Mom. You don’t let down Mom. That police station scene, that hospital scene, that hiring of a detective and that classic “Bhagwan har jagah nahin hote” and DK’s reply “Isi liye to Maa banai hai Bhagwan nain” can be watched in a loop for hours together.
Are you sure, you are gone? I don’t think you will ever go. There is no where you can go, you will be here in hearts of all of us and of course just a click away on YouTube.