Women's History Month: Remembering Bollywood's Sridevi Kapoor

Celebrating Women's History Month with the work of Sridevi Kapoor

Many actresses had their time to shine in 2018, but this year also saw the loss of an amazing one. Sridevi Kapoor was a hugely popular Bollywood actress leaving her to be regarded as one of the most beloved Indian actresses in history.

The world was shocked to learn about Sridevi's passing on Feb. 24. She was only 54 and seemed like she had a much longer career ahead of her. Her unfortunate death was due to an accidental drowning in a hotel room bathroom in Dubai. Her body was discovered by her husband Boney Kapoor.

While her death is saddening, she is celebrated by the work she left behind in over 300 movies. These films ranged in languages spanning from Hindi to Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada. Each of her films cherishes the music, dancing and culture of her surroundings, connecting with Indian viewers on a new level.

She's won multiple awards and was one of the highest paid actors in the 1980s and 1990s, solidifying her place as one of India's biggest female superstars.

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A post shared by Sridevi Kapoor (@sridevi.kapoor) on

Sridevi made a career out of being atypical. For most of her parts, they moved away from the standard roles that other actresses would find themselves in. Her characters tended to be feisty and have a little sass to them. Other female characters were often coy or reserved.

Through these roles, female fans in the '80s and '90s had a figure they could see themselves in. With Sridevi, women didn't have to hold back; she showed that women can be just as entertaining and fun as the boys.

After a brief hiatus until 2012, Sridevi returned in English Vinglish. In this comedy-drama, she portrayed the character Shashi, a work-from-home mother who visits New York with her family for the first time in her life. She gets mocked by her husband and daughter for her lack of English speaking skills, and after being unable to even order a cup of coffee because of the language barrier, she decides for herself that she had enough and enrolls in English speaking classes.

These classes help empower herself. While the coffee incident left her crying, by the end of the movie she is able to deliver an entire English speech in front of a crowd. She studies hard day and night and watches English movies to compensate. The speech impresses those around her who expected her to be a stereotypical conservative Indian housewife, and she uses it to convey the importance of family and self-empowerment.

Sridevi earned praise across the board for her role as Shashi. The Times of India had high remarks, saying, "Anxiety, anger, arrogance, anguish, attraction, the actress conveys emotions effortlessly with or without words. Returning to the silver screen after a 15-year hiatus; Sri's performance here is a master-class for actors."

The Hollywood Reporter also said, "[Her performance] is tempered with compassion and dignity. The way the character has been interpreted by Sridevi is gloriously feminine and uniquely Indian."

Check out the coffee shop scene below. You can see how Sashi tries to cope in a harsh world and initially gets put down, but eventually overcomes her timidness.

Over the years, Sridevi has won numerous awards. Four of which are Best Actress Awards and one Special Award from Filmfare.

Her highest honor, though, has been the Padma Shri. It's issued by the Government of India and is the fourth highest civilian honor. She was recognized for her contributions to cinema and her triumphant return to acting in English Vinglish. 

Whether or not Sridevi's work reflects your culture, she undeniably deserves respect. Her acting is top notch and shaped a new role for women to fit into. They no longer had to be secondary to men; women could command the screen, and Sridevi knew that.

If you're a fan of Sridevi's work, let us know in the comments which movie is your favorite! 

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