Sridevi's Hindi, Tamil films have been focus of pundits, but it's her Telugu roles that reflect unparalleled journey
Four decades ago, I moved to the city of Hyderabad to enroll in Class 11-12. Having come from a remote part of the state, the film theatres around me were so tempting. This was a time when not just my peers, people of all ages were flocking to the cinema halls. The film was Sridevi's Padaharella Vayasu (meaning, 'Age Of 16 Years'). Sridevi's mother would reportedly say, later, that she was not even 16 when she played the lead in this epoch-making film.
It was a joy for film lovers to see Sridevi's magnificent performance in two contrasting situations in the movie: First, as a young aspirational girl imagining her future in the comfortable companionship of her lover, who is relatively well placed compared to her rustic background. Then, when he ditches her and her life turns topsy-turvy, she has to portray the character of someone reconciling to the reality of living with a physically challenged person. Sridevi performed these strikingly different roles with unparalleled acting acumen and demonstrated a maturity quite unusual for her age. I was also not yet 16, and it took me a few years to fully appreciate the maturity in her portrayal, where I had previously simply delighted in it.