Sridevi — How Celebrities Make the Leap From Screens Into Our Hearts

By: Pooja Dhar

It is interesting the emotions that the loss of a celebrity evokes. For a couple of days now, South Asians all over the world are lamenting the untimely death of the iconic Bollywood actress, Sridevi. As we have in the past, we react the same way we would had we lost someone we knew in our personal lives – with disbelief, with shock, with grief, with anger. We seem to care less when an unknown, faceless person dies – but the purpose of this article is not to take a moral high ground or question if or why we care less or accuse those who we think may care less. The point of this piece is more to analyze why we may care so much when celebrities die, with a special focus on the beloved Sridevi.

The world cried when Lady Diana died. We grieved at the loss of President Kennedy, Bruce Lee and Marilyn Monroe. More recently, we lamented the loss of Aaliya, Michael Jackson, David Bowie, Brittany Murphy, Heath Ledger, Robin Williams, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Alan Rickman, Prince, etc. In India, I’ve personally experienced the violent reactions to the death of celebrities, particularly in the South, which is prone to hero worship. Growing up, I remember the furor over the death of MGR, and to some extent, Shivaji Ganesan and recently, Jayalalitha. The loss of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, the latter of which I remember keenly, when I was living only an hour away from where he was killed as a nine-year-old. I remember how we grieved at the death of Divya Bharati, Silk Smitha, Jiah Khan, and all it takes is for us to watch a movie or hear a song to say how sad it is that Geeta Bali, Madhubala, and Smita Patil died so young. Recently, we ‘ve dealt with the losses of Reema Lagoo, Om Puri, Amrish Puri, Vinod Khanna, Rajesh Khanna, and so many more.

So, going back to the crux of this article—WHY do we react the way we do, and WHY do we care so much about the death of people that we don’t know? Here are some of the reasons I believe contribute to our reactions to celeb deaths:

1. We feel like we know them or can relate to them

Celebrities obviously live very public lives. As a society, we crave to know them – who they are, what they do, what their families do, and so on, and this spurs on the media to continually cross all real and perceived boundaries to deliver the knowledge we so desire. With time and the advent of social media, this has expanded to star kids and the access to real-time information on where the celebrity is at any given point of time, what they’re wearing, what they may be feeling and saying. With actors, this fact is compounded by their presence in their work—the characters they play. I laughed and cried for Sridevi’s legendary role as a woman suffering from amnesia in “Sadma” (“Moondrum Pirai” in Tamil and “Vasanth Kokila” in Telugu), in Gumraah as an innocent woman wrongly accused of drug trafficking, and I found I could relate to her in “Chaalbaaz,” as both the victim of abuse and as the strong tomboyish rebel.

2. The sheep mentality, or better put, shared humanity

It is human to want to find consensus, and as such, seeing someone react a certain way, triggers a similar reaction within us. I had no plans on writing this piece or reacting in any way beyond initial disbelief upon the news of Sridevi’s passing. But when the news broke, I was surrounded by several fellow Brown Girl Magazine contributors for a meeting, and watched them in their initial reactions, as I grappled with my own. Over the course of the next day and half, I saw and read post after post of people’s reactions—some who knew her, some who met her, some who saw her, and most who never knew her or saw her in person, but were in some way influenced, impacted or inspired by her. Before I knew it, my initial shock turned to mild sadness, which turned to what felt like a gaping hole in my heart. We find solidarity amongst one another, which is somehow compounded by reason number one—the feeling that we’ve lost someone we know.

3. The reality of death scares us

We think of celebrities as larger than life (no pun intended), and so, losing them to the inevitable brings about fear. It is difficult for us to accept that the people we idealize and/or idolize are just as fallible and just as vulnerable as the rest of us. This is scary, these warring feelings of grief combined with our fear of our own mortality.

4. The way they died or when they died shocks us

We’ve seen celebrities die in mysterious accidents, like Divya Bharati, and suicide, such as Jiah Khan and Nafisa Joseph. We’ve seen celebrities die too young, such as Sridevi and Smita Patil among others. Some celebrities died of cancer—I remember all too well the shocking photo of an emaciated Vinod Khanna just before he died, or drugs/alcoholism, such as Meena Kumari, Parveen Babi, and Guru Dutt. How we react to the unexpected deaths such as those mentioned, is different from how strongly we feel when age-relevant deaths occur, such as with Shammi Kapoor. For example, we may seek to hide or bury suicide or drug/alcohol related deaths with our own, but this tends to be a huge topic of discussion when discussing the death of a celebrity.

5. They are inextricably tied to fond memories

Some of my best memories with my mom are when I watched movies with her growing up. I mentioned crying over Sridevi in “Sadma.” I remember looking over and watching my mom wipe away tears of her own. I recall dancing (badly) around my living room, singing Hawa Hawaii at the top of my lungs. I remember using the phrase “Jaani, yeh chaaku hai. Kya hai? Chaaku. Lag jaaye toh KHOOOOON nikal aata hai” in a fake rough throaty whisper like Sridevi in Chaalbaaz in response to real-life situations (yes, I’m THAT person). I danced (again, badly) with one of my oldest, dearest friends at a Diwali party, to “Morni Baga Ma.” I feel as though a part of my childhood has died with Sridevi, a sentiment echoed by many of the current generation Bollywood celebs on social media today.

No matter the reason, I plead for privacy for the family, and empathy for anyone who may feel anything at Sridevi’s loss, or at the death of anyone—celebrity or otherwise. It is not for us to question why or how people feel, and I can already predict some judgmental posts about rallying against people who spoke out about Sridevi’s death, and not about the tragic death of those school children in Florida. DON’T. Live, and let live. For if we have learned nothing else after all of the deaths we have witnessed, no matter who they were and where they were from, and how we may or may not have known them or be related to them, we must have learned that life is short. And grief, well, it needs no reason, nor justification.

As for Sridevi—Surmayi Ankhiyon Mein, Nanha Munha Ek Sapna De Ja Re—may your eyes remain filled with dreams as you are laid to rest.

Pooja Rudra is the quintessential “Jill of all trades.” A brown girl who spent the first 17 years of her life in India, and the next 17 years of her life in the U.S., she has never truly fit in with either culture and has found reasons to rebel against and embrace both, for various reasons. She’s a proud Indian, and a proud American, but resists the term Indian-American for unknown reasons. A corporate Training & Development professional by day, Pooja has had a checkered past littered with artistic pursuits – from acting in plays as a child, to being her school’s beloved emcee at a moment’s notice, to a brief and highly unsuccessful stint as a dancer, to an advertisement dubbing artist, to a wedding singer, a blog/poem/short story writer, to a photographer. The singing is now mainly contained to the bathroom (!), but the writing and photography are and remain front row center. To support her quirky artistic pursuits, follow her on Facebook and Instagram or check out her website.

By Brown Girl Magazine

Brown Girl Magazine was created by and for South Asian womxn who believe in the power of storytelling as a … Read more ›

‘Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani’: A Perfect K Jo Showcase Celebrating the Filmmaker’s 25 Years in Cinema

Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani

It’s always a flamboyant affair of colour, emotions and grandeur when Karan Johar directs a film, and his latest blockbuster “Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani” is as K Jo as it gets. After recently being recognised at the British House of Parliament for 25 years as a filmmaker, Johar is back to doing what he does best — bringing together families and star-crossed lovers, but this time with a modern touch. He makes a decent attempt at showcasing progressive ideals and feminist issues while taking us on this family-friendly ride.

“Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani” is a larger-than-life film revolving around the love story of a boisterous Rocky (Ranveer Singh) from a wealthy Delhi family, and Rani (Alia Bhatt), a sharp journalist from a progressive Bengali household. And of course, despite belonging to completely different backgrounds and lives, our protagonists, in true Bollywood fashion, fall hopelessly in love through a string of slow-motion gazes, warm embraces and some truly breath-taking song sequences in Kashmir’s snowy mountains. They are then forced to face their opposing families which brings along the family drama in the second half of the film.

The plot is not the film’s strongest point — there’s no real surprise about what’s going to happen next, and yet the film doesn’t fail to keep audiences engaged and pack an emotional punch. This is down to its strong acting, witty dialogues and K Jo’s classic, beautiful cinematography.

K Jo

Ranveer Singh sinks into the skin of his character with ease – not only does he make the hall burst into laughter with the help of perfectly-timed gags but he pulls off those dreamy gazes ,expected in K Jo’s heroes, to evoke that typical, fuzzy-feeling kind of Bollywood romance. Alia Bhatt’s intelligent and undefeated character is no less a pleasure to watch on screen — not only does she look breath-taking in every shot but her feminist dialogues earn claps and cheers from the audience as she brings a progressive touch to this family drama.

[Read Related: ‘The Romantics’: Revisiting the Legacy and Grandeur of Yash Chopra With Filmmaker Smriti Mundhra]

Albeit, while Bhatt’s dialogues do their best to steer this film to the reformist drama it hopes to be, some of Singh’s gags and monologues on cancel culture bring out bumps in the road. The film could have done better to reinforce its points on feminism and racism without using the groups it tries to support as the butt of jokes.

There is also a case to be made about how long these Punjabi and Bengali stereotypes can go on with often gawkish displays of Ranveer’s ‘dilwala-from-Delhi’ character among the overly-polished English from Rani’s Bengali family. But it is with the expertise of the supporting cast, that the film is able to get away with it. Jaya Bachchan in particular is as classy as ever on screen; the stern Dadi Ji holds her ground between the two lovers, while Dada Ji Dharmendra,  and Thakuma Shabana Azmi, tug at our heartstrings showing that love truly is for all ages.

K Jo Rocky aur Rani

Saving the best to last, it is the film’s cinematography that makes the strongest case for audiences to flock to the cinema. The soul-stirring songs steal the show with their extravagant sets and powerful dance performances that treat the audiences to the much-awaited cinematic experience of a K Jo film. While audiences may already be familiar with the viral songs, “What Jhumka?” and “Tum Kya Mile“, it was the family-defying fight for love in “Dhindhora Baje Re” that really gave me goosebumps.

Overall, the film does exactly what it says on the tin and is a family entertainer with something for everyone. It will make you laugh, cry, and cringe at times, but nothing leaves you feeling as romantic as some old school Bollywood with a mix of new school humour, in true K Jo form.

Stills Courtesy of Media Global House



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By Anushka Suharu

Anushka Suharu is a British Indian journalist, with a Masters in Interactive Journalism (City, University of London) and a BA … Read more ›

Abhishek Bachchan, Saiyami Kher, and Angad Bedi on ‘Ghoomer’

“Ghoomer,” R. Balki’s latest directorial venture, had its world premiere at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne 2023 (IFFM), earlier this month, and the moment was nothing short of memorable. Lead actors Abhishek Bachchan, Saiyami Kher, and Angad Bedi, were present to unveil their labor of love to the world, and all three were left speechless at the reaction of the global audience; the film received a standing ovation on opening night, leaving the team extremely emotional — a feeling that Bachchan tells Brown Girl is one he cannot put into words.

“Ghoomer,” tells the story of Anina (played by Kher), an exceptional cricket player who loses her right hand in an accident. Downtrodden and with no will to live, Anina finds a mentor and coach in Padam Singh Sodhi (played by Bachchan), an insensitive and brash failed cricketer who helps her turn her life and career around; Anina also has the unwavering support of her husband, Jeet (played by Bedi). Sodhi teaches Anina unorthodox techniques to make her mark on the cricket ground once again. Enter, ghoomer, a new style of bowling.

[Read Related: 5 Tidbits About Bollywood Royalty Abhishek Bachchan For His 41st Birthday!]

Balki checks all the boxes with this feature — his protagonist is a female athlete, the film is his way of giving back to cricket (a new form of delivery), and he highlights the idea that nothing is impossible for paraplegic athletes. The heart of Balki’s film is in the right place — Kher mentions that the film is meant to be more of an inspirational movie and less of a sports-based movie. One can only imagine the impact that a film like this would have on an audience that’s hungry for meaningful cinema.

And, to chat more about “Ghoomer,” Brown Girl Magazine sat down with the stars of the show. Bachchan, Bedi, and Kher came together to talk about their inspiring characters, the filming journey, and how their film aspires to change the landscape of cricket and paraplegic athletes in the country. It was all that, with a side of samosas.

Take a look!

The featured image is courtesy of Sterling Global. 

By Sandeep Panesar

Sandeep Panesar is an editor, and freelance writer, based out of Toronto. She enjoys everything from the holiday season to … Read more ›

‘Thank You For Coming’ Unapologetically Begs the Answer to a Very Important Question

It’s never a dull moment with your girl gang; some shots and conversations about sex, right? If you agree, you’re in for a treat with Karan Boolani’s directorial venture, “Thank You For Coming,” which had its world premiere at the 48th annual Toronto International Film Festival. This coming-of-age story unapologetically begs the answer to a very important question: Why should women be left high and dry in bed?


Kanika Kapoor (Bhumi Pednekar) is a successful, 32-year-old, Delhi food blogger who makes a huge revelation on her 30th birthday: She’s never experienced an orgasm. This dirty little secret (no pun intended!) has now become detrimental to her self-esteem. She feels so down and out that she even accepts the proposal of a very boring suitor, Jeevan-ji (Pradhuman Singh Mall).

[Read Related: Meet Fashion Blogger and Media Star Dolly Singh]

Thank You For Coming

But, it’s not like she hasn’t tried. Kanika’s been a monogamist since her teenage years, starting with puppy love in high school — unfortunately, their sexual endeavors coined her as “thandi” (cold) by her first boyfriend — all the way to dating in her adulthood. But, regardless of how great any relationship was, nobody had her achieve the big O. All until the night of her engagement with Jeevan, when the drunk bride-to-be leaves the party for her hotel room and gets into bed. What follows is her very first orgasm. Ghungroo, finally, tute gaye! But, with whom?

The morning after, an initially-satisfied Kanika works herself into a frenzy of confusion and frustration as she makes her way through the list of potential men who could’ve been in her room the night before.

Thank You For Coming

Was it one of her exes? She’d simply invited them to come to wish her well.

Was it her fiance?

Or, God forbid, was it actually the rabdi-wala (ice cream man)?

Boolani takes a straight-forward and on-the-nose approach to drive the point home. There are no cutting corners, no mincing words, and no hovering over “taboo topics.” The dialogue is raunchy, the characters are horny, and no one is apologetic. It’s important for a film like “Thank You For Coming” to be so in-your-face because the subject of women achieving orgasms can’t really be presented in any other way. Anything more conservative in the narrative would feel like the makers are being mindful of addressing something prohibited. And there is no room for taboos here.

But, there is room for a more open conversation on the reasons why many women feel the need to suppress their sexual needs in bed; how generally, women have been brought up to be the more desirable gender and hence not cross certain boundaries that would make them appear too brash. The fight for the right of female pleasure would have been a little more effective if the modesty around the topic was addressed. But, that doesn’t mean that the point is remiss.

The plot moves swiftly along, never lulling too long over everything that seems to be going wrong in Kanika’s life. “Thank You For Coming” is full of all the right tropes that belong in a comedic, masala film, too; the direction very seamlessly takes classic fixings like the abhorrent admirer (enter Jeevan-ji) and effectively plugs them into this contemporary feature that will remain perpetually relevant.

Thank You For Coming

And now, let’s come to the star of the show: the well-rounded characters.

Producer Rhea Kapoor has mastered the formula of a good chick flick and her casting is the magic touch. She’s got a knack for bringing together the right actors — cue, “Veere Di Wedding.” So, just when we think that it doesn’t get better than the veere, Kapoor surprises us with a refreshing trio — they’re modern, they’re rebellious, and they say it like it is. Thank you, Dolly Singh (Pallavi Khanna) and Shibani Bedi (Tina Das) for being the yin to Kanika’s yang — and for the bag full of sex toys your homegirl oh-so needed!

To complete Kanika’s story, we have her single mother, Miss. Kapoor, brilliantly portrayed by Natasha Rastogi. She is the face of a headstrong and self-assured matriarch and a symbol of the modern-day Indian woman. Rastogi’s character exemplifies the fact that with access to education, and a stable career, women do not need to mold their lives around men.

I love the fact that Miss. Kapoor is almost villainized by her own mother (played by Dolly Ahluwalia) in the film because she had a child out of wedlock in her yesteryears, she chooses to remain single, and she brings her boyfriends around the house to hang out with. But, there’s a point to be made here. The fact that Kanika’s mother is being antagonized just highlights that she is challenging the norms and pushing the envelope for what is socially acceptable for women. Miss. Kapoor definitely deserves an honorable mention.

Pednekar’s unexpected yet impeccable comic timing is the highlight of the entire film. Everything from being a damsel in sexual distress to a woman who unabashedly chases self-pleasure, Pednekar puts on a genuinely entertaining act for the audience. From being portrayed as a high-schooler to the 32-year-old, independent woman, Pednekar is fit for each role. Her naivety as a teen wins you over, as does her gusto as a full-blown adult with a broken ankle and some very messy relationships. This also speaks volumes about the versatility of her looks.

And, of course, Pednekar is not new to films that address social topics, but “Thank You For Coming” challenges her to balance Kanika’s droll with the responsibility of delivering a very important message to the viewers. Mission accomplished, Ms. Pednekar!

Thank You For Coming

“Thank You For Coming” is a through-and-through entertainer. Everything from the casting — a huge shout out to the rest of the supporting cast including Anil Kapoor, Shehnaaz Gill, Karan Kundra, Kusha Kapila, Gautmik, and Sushant Divkigar, without whom this roller coaster would have lacked the thrills — to the homey locations and even the glitz and glamor in the song sequences, they’re all perfect pieces to help drive home a powerful message: Smash patriarchy!

All images in this article are courtesy of TIFF.

By Sandeep Panesar

Sandeep Panesar is an editor, and freelance writer, based out of Toronto. She enjoys everything from the holiday season to … Read more ›