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Why Sridevi Was And Always Will Be Bollywood's Ultimate Pin-up Girl

It wasn't just the men Sridevi charmed, an entire generation of women in 80s and 90s imitated her in their own ways.


Updated:February 24, 2019, 10:32 AM IST
Why Sridevi Was And Always Will Be Bollywood's Ultimate Pin-up Girl
It wasn't just the men Sridevi charmed, an entire generation of women in 80s and 90s imitated her in their own ways.

Shekhar Kapur had once famously remarked that Sridevi was like a 'child woman' onscreen. It was as if her beautiful face was unaware of the effect that her body had on the legion of her male fans. Although Kapur was right, it wasn't just the men she charmed, an entire generation of women in 80s and 90s imitated her in their own ways.

Working women wore chiffon saris like her, teenagers copied her double braids, and college girls wore belted cotton dresses. They all wanted to be her. But, what Sridevi had could never have been imitated. While newbie actresses strived to mold themselves in her style and fashion, they could never emulate her electric persona and her expressions which not only made her one of the legendary actresses of Indian cinema but also the ultimate pin-up girl of Bollywood, a tag she managed to keep till the last day of her life.

Her childlike voice, full-figured body, and sharp Indian features was a combination that the audiences had rarely seen on Indian screens. All her characters had an innate sexiness that only Sridevi could have brought out: be it Khuda Gawah or Nagina. It wasn't her fashion choices that made her so alluring and seductively beautiful. In fact, in most cases, it was despite the clothes she wore given how hideous 80s and 90s fashion scene was. When Sridevi was onscreen, her eyes spoke a thousand words, and the uncountable fleeting expressions on her face always lit up in every frame. Her grace was effortless; she had rhythm in her blood which made most dance sequences featured on her an instant hit. In Nagina, as she did a snake dance (Main Teri Dushman, Dushman Tu Mera) around Amrish Puri in shiny white lehenga, wearing crazy big blue lens, anyone else would have looked ridiculous, but Sridevi intrigued the audience, she arrested their attention with her flowy, small, effortless movements.

Remember in Himmatwala, when she and Jeetendra danced with dusters (yes, that indeed happened!) on the song, Naino Mein Sapna and the camera zoomed for an uncountable number of times on her waist? It was Sridevi who made that hideous choreography fun and exciting with her natural charm. Long before Raveena Tandon tried to be oh-so-steamy in Tip Tip Barsa Pani, it was Sridevi who captured the male imagination with her sultry act in Kaate Nahi Katte Din Ye Raat (Mr. India).

Her onscreen avatars were a good mix of docile, demure beauties which guaranteed a train of Indian male followers as it fed their obsession of adarsh bhartiya nari and strong independent women characters which appealed to the women audience. She pulled no punches in making all of these characters desirable and attractive. No matter how heartbroken Chandni was after her marriage failed, that did not mean that she would turn up in office without blow-dried hair and matching churi and bindi. Likewise, in English Vinglish she was the picture of domesticity as the underconfident, demure Shashi who was the mother of two kids and yet her classmate fell for her simple charms and beauty. In Chaalbaaz, she played the whip-wielding Manju, who was not only powerful but also very sexy.

Sridevi, off-screen, was a different story. After her comeback film English Vinglish, the actress posed for the cover of Vogue at the age of 49. Every media outlet raved about how seductive and hot she looked 'for her age'. Sridevi, however, refused to be defined by her age. She wore the latest fashion like her second skin and was always the most elegantly dressed woman in award ceremonies and public gatherings. She managed to stay in shape (perhaps at a good cost) and looked fabulous no matter where she went.

Sridevi has always had two very distinct personas – a fun, warm onscreen presence and a remote, distant public personality. The sparks in her eyes that tickled million hearts were always missing during public gatherings. She handled herself with expert restraint in public. While each photo she posted on Instagram reinstated her status as an ageless symbol of sensuality and beauty, she carefully curated her online life to give the audience just the right touch of her exotic unattainable self. It told us, that although she was among us, she will always be the fantasy that loomed large on us for more than three decades. She is and always will be Bollywood's ultimate pin-up girl.

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