Remembering Sridevi and Her Most Memorable Bollywood Roles

[Photo Source: Screenshot/Eros International]

by Shivani Tripathi –

Indian cinema lost an icon this past week.  Indian film actress Sridevi, whose career spanned 50 years and close to 300 films in five languages, unexpectedly passed away at the age of 54. Often described as the first female pan-India superstar, Sridevi brought incredible beauty, mature performances and impeccable comedic timing to the movies, the likes of which hadn’t been witnessed before. Her icon status was so undeniable, that even the 2018 Oscars telecast included her (and Shashi Kapoor!) in their “In Memoriam” tribute, and rightfully so.

Here are some of her most memorable Hindi film roles which catapulted her to fame, cemented her status and proved to audiences that once a queen, always a queen.

“Sadma” (1983)

A remake of her Tamil hit, “Moondram Pirai,” Sridevi reprises the role of a woman diagnosed with regression amnesia after an accident has her believing she is a child.  The actress, who was later seen as a paragon of glamour, was free of makeup or shiny clothing, brought much sparkle in her eyes.  Memorable music courtesy Gulzar’s lovely lyrics and maestro Ilaiyaraaja’s melodies added to the mood of the movie, which beautifully explores moments of joy and loss.  “Sadma” is easily considered one of Sridevi’s best, and most memorable performances.

“Nagina” (1986)

The myth of the naagin or shape shifting snake woman had been explored before, but Sridevi brought the fierce like no one else.  Sridevi’s Rajni goes through several changes from a mysterious, apparition-like maiden, to beautiful bride, then a naagin who must protect her mate at any cost,  Sridevi’s eyes turn ice blue and her body sways in such a sultry manner that you can’t help but celebrate your own inner naagin!  In the final song of the film the naagin comes face-to-face with the evil snake charmer and what transpires is cinematic history.

Mr. India (1987)

With a title like “Mr. India,” and a sci-fi  premise the likes of which Indian audiences had never seen before, could have easily translated into little to no room for the female lead to make an impact.  But not Sridevi.  As Seema Soni, the career gal who wants to prove her mettle as a journalist, Sridevi was tough, compassionate, charming and showcased comedic chops which are remembered so many years later.  Super hit songs “Hawa Hawaii” and “Kaate Nahin Katate” sealed her standing as an immensely popular film personality.

“ChaalBaaz” (1989)

Playing a double-role, in Indian cinema, is a huge vote of confidence because it means viewers love you enough to want to see two of you!  Sridevi played identical twin sisters separated at birth but who grow up to be as different as can be: Anju (painfully shy, nurturing and full of fear) and Manju (fiery, street smart female who appreciates a good drink!).  Sridevi’s zingy one-liners, unbeatable comedic timing and contrasting portrayals of the siblings makes “ChaalBaaz” a marvelous masala movie.

“Chandni” (1989)

A woman choosing between two men sounds like a cliched premise, but Sridevi’s maturity and grace brought freshness to the romantic drama.  A soundtrack for the ages added to Sridevi’s catalog and images of her from the film are in the dictionary when you look up ‘Hindi film heroine’.  “Chandni” was a milestone for both Sridevi and director Yash Chopra, whose legacy of beautiful women dressed in chiffon, surrounded by Swiss Alps was firmly established with this super hit film.

“Laadla” (1994)

The tired archetype of the frigid, corporate boss lady is made red hot by Sridevi’s clap-worthy portrayal.  In fact, film audiences asked why was the film called “Laadla” and not “Laadli,” as Sridevi made the leap from perceived antagonist to bona fide scene stealer.  But be warned.  After watching “Laadla,” your assertive comeback will become Sridevi’s popular dialogue “Understand? *finger snap*  You better understand!”

“Judaai” (1997)

This film came six years after India liberalized its economy and showed that with an influx of new money and goods, comes materialism.  So much so that middle-class housewife Kajal agrees to sell her husband so her family can live a cushy life after years of struggle (so what if they’re happy? Mommy needs Manish Malhotra sarees!).  In “Judaai,” Sridevi makes the audience laugh, sniffle and while Kajal’s actions are so wrong, Sridevi is so right.

“English Vinglilsh” (2012)

15 years after “Judaai,” Sridevi returned to the silver screen and proved that real talent is never out of practice. Shashi, a housewife who gets plenty of love but little respect from her family, learns to love herself as she learns English in the heart of New York City.  Sridevi seamlessly navigates through a myriad of emotions, without any hint of melodrama, and adds another jewel in her cinematic crown.

[Read Related: Sridevi – The Loss of a Bollywood Legend and Childhood Icon]

There have been many times when the role or film didn’t do justice to the actress’s immense talent, but nonetheless she would add spark to a scene, or make the simplest of song sequences, magical. Although no longer in this world, Sridevi’s remarkable film legacy continues to live on.


Shivani cannot remember a time when she wasn’t madly in love with Indian cinema, which now inspires much of her writing. She lives in both New York City and Twitterpur.

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 ›

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

The Romantics

If you are a South Asian, born in the ’80s or the early ’90s, chances are your ideas of love and romance are heavily influenced by Hindi films — that first gaze, the secret love notes, that accidental meeting somewhere in Europe, over-the-top gestures and dancing around trees. While reality may have been far from what was promised on reel, you still can’t stop pining over a hopeless romantic, with chocolate boy looks, chasing you across the earth and many universes; in the life here and the ones after. Somewhere deep down, you still dream of that possibility despite your husband sitting and sipping his morning coffee right next to you. And much of the credit for weaving this dreamland, that we can’t resist happily sliding into, goes to the legendary Yash Chopra. Award-winning filmmaker Smriti Mundhra’s docu-series, “The Romantics,” that released on Netflix on February 14, chronicles Chopra’s prolific career; offering an illuminating look into the highs and lows of his journey, his unblemished vision for Hindi cinema and sheer love for filmmaking. 

I wanted to look at Indian cinema through the lens of it being a major contributor to the global cinema canon and Yash Chopra seemed like the perfect lens to explore that because of the longevity of his career and the fact that he had worked across so many different genres. His films, for so many of us, defined what Hindi cinema is.

— Smriti Mundhra

As “The Romantics” unveils, in a mere episode — a challenging feat in itself — Chopra did experiment with multiple genres as a budding filmmaker, initially under the shadows of his elder brother B.R. Chopra. From the religiously sensitive “Dharamputra” and the trendsetting “Waqt” to the action-packed and iconic “Deewaar.” It wasn’t until later on in his career that he set a precedent for a Hindi film having a wholly romantic narrative; though “Waqt” did offer the perfect glimpse into what would go on to become Chopra’s cinematic imprint. And then came “Chandni” which ushered in a new era for Hindi cinema; defying the formulaic approach to box office success and making love stories the golden goose.

In the words of more than 30 famous faces, a host of archival videos and interviews, and personal anecdotes, audiences get an extensive insight into the life and career of Yash Chopra and the evolution of his vision through the business acumen and genius of his polar opposite son and a famous recluse, Aditya Chopra. “The Romantics” is not a fancy portrait of a legendary filmmaker but an exploration of what goes into making a successful film family and a path-breaking production house. As viewers, we not only get a peek into the making of a fantasy creator but also learn of the many failures, hurdles and uncertainties that the business of filmmaking comes packaged in, the impact of socio-political shifts on the kind of content being produced and demanded, and just how much control we have as an audience over the fate of the film and the filmmaker.

For both the uninitiated and fanatics, there are some interesting revelations like Shah Rukh Khan’s lifelong desire to become an action hero as opposed to a romantic one and the creative conflict between Aditya Chopra and his father Yash Chopra on the sets of “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge” — a project that, surprisingly, did not seem too promising to the latter. Mundhra penetrates deep into the family’s history and industry relationships evoking some really candid conversations; almost as if these celebs were eagerly waiting for their moment to speak. With one appraising interview after the other, it’s a panegyric that does border on being a tad tedious but there is enough depth and fodder in there to keep one hooked. Kudos to Mundhra for managing to achieve cohesion despite there being more than enough material to chew on. In the process of bringing this project to life, Mundhra also ends up achieving a number of milestones: one that the series features the last of actor Rishi Kapoor’s interviews and two, it brings Aditya Chopra, who, it appears, can talk a blue streak contrary to popular belief, to the front of the camera after almost two decades. The moment when he puts the nepotism debate to rest by referring to his brother’s catastrophic attempt at acting is quite the show-stealer.


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At some point during the four-episode series, you might question if it’s fair to credit the Yash Raj family for being the only real changemakers of the Hindi film industry and for picking up the baton to get Hindi cinema the global recognition that it has. But then there is no denying the Chopra clan’s body of work, their ability to understand what pleases the crowd and their commitment towards growth and progress amidst changing times and technology — Yash Raj Studios is in fact the only privately held and one of the biggest, state-of-the-art film studios in India. Chopra’s career and legacy are in no way under-lit that Mundhra can claim to throw new light on with “The Romantics.” But what she really has on offer here are sheer nostalgia, some fascinating discoveries and an ode to a cinephile and his art with a bit of fan service.

In an interview with Brown Girl Magazine, Mundhra discusses why it was so important for Chopra to be the subject of her docu-series, her own learnings during the series’ research and creative process and her accomplishment of getting Aditya Chopra to talk, and that too, at length.

By Nida Hasan

Editor by profession, writer by passion, and a mother 24/7, Nida is a member of Brown Girl Lifestyle's editing team … Read more ›