The Diva returns

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Nobody filled a chiffon sari on screen quite like Sridevi.

Nobody filled a chiffon sari on screen quite like Sridevi. Wet and blue was the dress code for Kaate nahin kat te where she frolics with an invisible man. She went all red for Har kissi ko and yellow for Tere mere honthon pe. She could do a Charlie Chaplin, play an icchadhaari naagin and dance to Hawa hawai. She could be naughty and nice, sultry and dreamy.

The Eighties had its heroines Jaya Prada, Meenakshi Seshadri, Dimple Kapadia, but it was Sridevi who was the star. Initially, however, she was panned for her thunder thighs, her five-star hotel bills, her ignorance of Hindi and her squeaky voice. Her metamorphosis from a raw southern siren to a Yash Chopra heroine was gradual but emphatic. For a decade and more, she held the nation in thrall.

Director Shekhar Kapur who directed her in Mr India says, "A director always looks for an actor who can surprise him. It was very tough to direct her in dance sequences because she performs as an actress and not as a dancer, so you didn't know whether to focus on her facial expressions or her body movements."

Akshay Kumar has famously said that Sridevi's movies inspired him to join films. "When I was a cook in Bangkok, I used to watch her songs from Tohfa and Himmatwala while washing dishes. I dreamt of working in a movie with her," he says. He eventually acted with her in Meri Biwi ka Jawab Nahin, which saw a half-hearted release in 2006. Kajol, known for her spontaneity on screen, feels Sridevi should open an acting school. "She knows everything about her job. It's not only about standing in front of the camera, she knows how to hold her body and how to speak. Most actors don't pay attention to these details," she said in an earlier interview.

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