REUTERS - Actress Sridevi, arguably Bollywood’s first female superstar, died in Dubai on Saturday night following a cardiac arrest, Indian media reported. She was 54.
Sridevi is survived by her husband - producer Boney Kapoor - and daughters Jhanvi and Khushi. She was in Dubai to attend a family wedding.
Born as Shree Amma Yanger Ayyapan in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, she started acting at age four, appearing in several Tamil films in the 60’s and 70’s, and eventually dropping out of school for a career in the movies. She acted in Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu films, making her presence felt performing alongside leading men such as Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth.
Sridevi made her Bollywood debut in 1979 with Solva Sawan (16th spring), but it was in 1983, with Balu Mahendra’s “Sadma” (Shock) that she made her mark in the Hindi film industry. The same year, she also acted with Jeetendra in K Raghavendra Rao’s blockbuster “Himmatwala” (The courageous one), cementing her place as one of Bollywood’s top actresses.
Through the 80’s and 90’s she charmed audiences in female-centric films such as “Chandni” (Moonlight) and “Lamhe” (Moments), drawing praise for her comic timing in “Chaalbaaz” (Trickster) and Shekhar Kapur’s “Mr India”, playing feisty characters in marked contrast to the traditionally coy Bollywood heroine.
Sridevi took a break from films soon after she married producer Boney Kapoor in 1996. A noticeably leaner Sridevi made a successful return to the big screen 15 years later in Gauri Shinde’s “English Vinglish” (2012), playing a housewife taking English-language lessons. Her last screen appearance was in “Mom” (2017), as a mother avenging her daughter’s rape.
Sridevi’s death triggered an outpouring of tributes from Bollywood luminaries and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“I have no words. Condolences to everyone who loved Sridevi. A dark day. RIP,” actress Priyanka Chopra said on Twitter.
“She was a veteran of the film industry, whose long career included diverse roles and memorable performances,” Modi said in a tweet by the prime minister’s office.
Reporting by Shilpa Jamkhandikar, editing by Tony Tharakan and Robert MacMillan