I am a self confessed Sri Devi fan. From the hours I have wasted defending her and fighting her case as no. 1. Heroine of Bollywood it's only obvious I write an ode to her.
The double role queen, the cute spiced with quirky, the comedy master, the snake Goddess, the sensual seductress, the quintessential item girl. Despite being voluptuous and curvy she could never look cheap, she could carry of any role of a any woman who was never boring. She stood out on every screen she was a part of. Stealing the show from the heroes in the frame. Here is the countdown where she diminishes hero after hero like no one can, who dares to stand next..
Jeetendra who had been kicking some heels as the only decent dancing hero, got his match in Sri Devi. No one has looked as hot in Bollywood version of tribal dress. kalse kalse, who compares a woman's body to a pot, and the woman gyrates and tantalises an entire generation of men in presence of their wives and mothers.
This caper has its own power where Sri Devi acts as the femme fettle. The princess who rules with an iron hand, just like Khuda Gawah and Laadla. It suits her to dominate men and end up being tamed by them. Women like Sri Devi are difficult to tame. Here her jodi with Sunny Deol was interesting. She looked good with every hero, but suddenly she started looking older to all heroes including Salman and Shahrukh. Probably the destiny of all women in the industry, some marry well some don't. But they always settle for less, because there are no happy endings.
In this role Sridevi brings her inner children turning the screen alive. Movie after movie, of lightening up the screen with her charisma. Sadma was a class apart which made even critics eat their words who could call her only commercial actress. her effortless childlike performance as a woman who regresses into her childhood is brilliant. Even with Kamal Hassan, next to her she takes a bow effortlessly.
Icha Daari naagin has never been so gorgeous as Sri Devi did. The blue eyed transition from human to a snake woman, she was an enigma in screen. Protecting her husband her suhaag because marriage is real amongst snakes as humans. The angle of naag mani and sapera villain adds all the mythological flavours to a family caper with all sorts of twists and drama.
Imagine its popularity there was a very famous part II Nigahen also.
This movie had a multi star cast from the top names of Dileep Kumar to three heroes including Anil Kapoor and Jackie Shroff, Sri Devi stood her ground with marvellous performance in such brilliant scenes. Remember the double role con, hunting girl to sati savitari act - this was not a double role but she still carries off the roles. Dance and songs like 'Maine Rab se' and 'Ae vatan'. The other multi starrer Khuda Gawah was a great film but the match that she gave to make heroes. She was truly the she hero of her times and then she got married and settled down. What's with motherhood and women! It makes them week in knees.
5. Roop ki Rani, Choron ka Raja
Suno miss chai main shakkar
This crazy revenge roller coaster had some of the craziest scenes of thievery and one ups. The Chinese act was another feather in Sri Devi's hat in line of various styles and theme dressing.
Who can forget
Mere haathon main nau nau chudian
Main Sasural Nahin jaoongi
A tradition of girls and women have grown up dancing in these songs in front of their mirror. To be wooed by decent men on weddings and bringing them home as wives. The love story of those times, it was romance the Yash Raj way.
Double role has been an ongoing Bollywood plot for family films. And this film is clearly a remake of twin sisters, separated at birth and mixed identity as in Ram aur Shyam, Seeta aur Geeta, Judwa, Kishan Kanhaiya. Have you ever wondered why the movie is called Chaalbaaz. Who is Chaalbaaz, no one else but Sri Devi. Her tandav dance, Ek ladki bheegi, tear bimaar mera dil, and Balma Balma all this is a cult which only a true Bollywood fan realises. But the best part was the drunkard heroine. Have you ever seen any main actress in any film who went to local daru ka adda and drank away love woes with other men and carry it off with Elaine and grace.
Why this love story touches me the way none other does. I don't care if it was about falling in love for elder people. But it was definitely about falling in love and you never know when you do and how beautiful it can be. The songs were melodious and grounded just the way all folk lores are,
Morni bhaga main
Megha re megha
We had this movie on home video tape, so I have watched it on repeat in hot afternoons and lazy weekends. I have copies her style and dance moves in front of the mirror. That's the Sri Devi effect. Have you heard there is a temple in her name in South. That's a different kind of fandome.
1. Mr India
Finally the number one film ever made and what a likelihood of my fav Sri Devi to be part of it. But there is never one reason for you to have a fav film,there are many reasons. This one had the invisible man but the crazy reporter who can be cute girl next door one moment and miss Hawa Hawai the next. If this isn't versatility then what is. There is a reason Sri Devi has remained with us in all her avatars through her smiles, her laughter, her looks, her cuteness.