12 comments on “No One Could Have Expected This Loss – RIP, Sridevi

  1. Richard,
    “…there must be more to the story”. Some comments are going around on WhatsApp/Facebook which gives ‘more to the story’. The comments are unkind to the departed soul, and the credibility of the stuff on social media is suspect. But since you have conjectured, it goes like this:

    While we are all mourning the untimely demise of Sridevi, it is important to remember why this may have happened to her. Society demanded that she stay slimmer/look younger than a 40 year old, 50 year old and 50 year old plus woman needs to be. Hence, the continuous surgeries. When I met her about 5 years ago, she was beautiful but a sad version of that self that we loved so much in a movie like Chandni. What a lot of pressure to keep her weight down, to make sure that her face had no wrinkle lines…continuous clinic visits in Southern California. ….but these patriarchal implants were in her head – the husband, who claimed to love her so much should have intervened, did he love the way she looked as his arm candy more than he loved her? She herself did not trust in her own beauty – she was a clothes horse for whoever cared to dress her. What I conclude is she had such a lack of self-esteem that her own lips didn’t suffice, her own face was not good enough, her face and blood had to be sucked out of her so that she could wear the best of couture. That is the sadness of a life that could have been lived so much better not just for her, but for her daughters. What a terrible legacy for her girls.

    Another one:
    Sridevi took a lot of hydroxyl drugs trying to keep her weight down. These drugs kill hunger, heighten your metabolic rate and makes the heart beat faster. Luckily for her, she died of heart attack. Most people get a severe stroke and survive and live like a vegetable.”

    Whatever the reason, she had many years of acting left in her. She made a grand comeback as a mature actor in meaningful roles in ‘English Vinglish’ and ‘Mom’. I am deeply saddened at her death.

  2. Her loss has hit me hard. I grew up watching her in Malayalam films, films in which she had more nuanced roles than being arm candy and a couple of dances. (Not that I didn’t like her dancing – she was a fantastic dancer, even if classically untrained.) Your tribute is really touching.

  3. AK,

    As it turns out, there was more to the story, but not quite in the way that people speculated. Although now there may be speculation about how she ended up drowning while passed out and drunk in the bathtub. Was this a sign of abuses to her system that people were not talking about before? Was this the result of the pressures of stardom? Her death is beginning to look more like a star’s kind of death. How many rock stars met a similar demise? (At least she didn’t drown her own…well, never mind.)

    I apologize if it may be unkind for me to write in this way, but I feel better when I indulge in a little dark humor sometimes. I know life can be brutal, especially in the society that we live in, all over the world. When someone achieves a great kind of success that most people can’t even dream of, often a high price has been paid. I, myself, as an introverted person, can hardly imagine the strain it would cause to be in the public spotlight all the time. (When I hear about how Suraiya became reclusive, or similar such stories, I think, of course… And I don’t pity them at all. I imagine that life only became much easier after they escaped the crowds. Although it is bad to read about the ones who became recluses and died in poverty, too. If anything, the stresses of stardom should at least result in some material comfort further down the road. Of course, that is one thing that Sridevi must have had plenty of.)

    Notwithstanding the strain of that public spotlight… If fans want to know more, it isn’t necessarily from an unkind and parasitic instinct (though that exists, too). Especially if it’s someone whose work has moved people, the people want to know how and why that actress and/or dancer and/or artist or musician, etc., suddenly had a life cut short. And I see nothing wrong with a little realistic analysis, either.

    Regarding the comments you mentioned, those thoughts were echoed by a post by Kouser Fathima in the blog Cafe Dissensus: https://cafedissensusblog.com/2018/02/25/was-sridevi-a-victim-of-beauty-standards-set-by-fashion-industry/

    But in addition to relating those same thoughts about Sridevi, this article also points out that a famous actress does not have to be a “victim” of these standards, either. There are a few noteworthy women who’ve chosen a different route. Quoting from the article…

    Sridevi will always be remembered for her versatility, grace, and immense talent. Even if she had put on weight or not undergone surgeries, her fans would have continued to love her. In fact, many of her genuine fans were not happy with her numerous surgeries. There are many actresses who have aged gracefully without the aid of surgeries or crash diets. Waheeda Rahman, Jaya Bachchan, Shabana Azmi, and Sharmila Tagore have shown the world how to age gracefully without falling for the beauty standards set by the fashion industry. They may not be described as glamorous by beauty magazines now. But they will remain eternally beautiful and graceful. These beautiful ladies should inspire us to set our own beauty rules and not fall for the rules set by others. Glamour sells but beauty is everlasting.

  4. Anu, I was pleased to see your word that my tribute was touching. I was not sure if I fully conveyed how much I actually did appreciate Sridevi. Though I did not grow up watching Sridevi, I think I can empathize with your comment that the loss has hit you hard.

    By the way, I also saw her in some of her earlier, South Indian films, where she was given very serious roles to play. (I also saw a couple of her childhood appearances, but that’s another matter. :) ) These films actually were available for me to watch on YouTube close to ten years ago (in Tamil WITH English subtitles).For instance, I watched 16 Vayathinile. I also greatly enjoyed a somewhat lighter (and very sweet) film, Varumaiyin Niram Sivappu, which I wrote up here:


    She did have a good, nuanced role in that film, and it was also a good film for watching her chemistry with Kamal Haasan. (And, incidentally, that’s also the film from which I took the screen cap that appears at the top of this post. :) )

  5. Richard,
    It seems I was the only person unaware of her obsession to look younger and beautiful. In that case discussing the dangers of excesses upon the body is not unkind. Now Bonny Kapoor being ‘investigated’, and delay in releasing the body is adding a darker twist to the story. Also being speculated is that the cosmetic-surgery and slimming-drug industry have bribed Dubai officials to suppress the truth. Literally a ‘star’s death’ Bollywood had not seen before, though there have been some in the US.

  6. Richard, there’s analysis and there’s sheer yellow journalism/speculation. By the time one finishes reading the articles, one would think she was an alcoholic and drug addict. From what I know of her from someone very close to her, she rarely drank, and when she did, she drank wine. I have heard tales of the cosmetic surgeries, some of which were pretty evident, and I have wondered about her preternaturally thin look, so it could be that she was taking drugs to keep her weight down. I do know she was an extremely good cook but was very particular about her own diet.

    Costars and directors – there were never any complaints about her on the set. I was in the media, remember? We would have heard. Not a whisper. Not then, not until her death. So to see her as some former superstar who drowned because she was drunk is unfair to her.

  7. Anu, I have not seen a whole lot of articles fitting your description, but I have happened upon reports of how bad the media has been, and, yes, it does look ridiculous.

    My thoughts were mainly in response to AK’s comment that he thought the messages he shared were unkind – and I thought that they weren’t really. (AK, thanks for agreeing with me on that point in your next comment. :) )Plus, I have seen in the past how certain people have complained that it’s unnecessary and/or disrespectful to ask about the cause of a star or artist’s death if the information hasn’t been given, and I don’t really think so, for reasons I already said.

    Regarding the facts of Sridevi’s death, well, the case is closed, so I guess the story isn’t going to change too much at this point (though it would be interesting to see if anything is revealed regarding the drugs she was taking for her weight loss or other “beauty’ treatments). They say foul play was “ruled out,” and I don’t think there was any.

    The reports say that she lost consciousness in the bathtub and drowned, and that there were traces of alcohol in her body. In the majority of cases where an adult drowns in a bathtub, alcohol or drugs have played a part. It’s not unfair to say maybe she was a bit tipsy and that contributed to the tragedy. Maybe the alcohol did worse to her because of other drugs in her system.

    I agree that it’s wrong to voice big conclusions about her character based on this one tragic incident, and to report about her death in a ridiculously sensationalist way. I have done a brief search, and I see that a lot of people are angry about the media’s coverage, too.

  8. Richard, Anu,
    Dubai authorities have now ‘closed’ the investigation. As far as I understand, it means no one is suspect now. The body has been handed back, the family has returned. But it really does not throw much light on ‘how’ she really died, and we would never know it.

    However, it seems to be widely known that she was obsessed about or under pressure to look younger than she was and as beautiful as a young star, for which she took drugs, and subjected herself to surgeries. Discussing the pressures on celebrities and its fatal consequences (well-known cases in Bollywood and Hollywood), to my mind, is not distasteful. Some media are discussing it in quite a responsible manner.

  9. That’s a moving tribute, Richard. I may be the only person around who wasn’t a huge Sridevi fan, but her death did come as a shock – such a bolt out of the blue.

  10. Thank you for the nice words, Madhu. And I like the way you put it – yes, it certainly was a “bolt out of the blue”!

    And back to AK, that was a very good summary of where things stood at the point when the investigation was “closed.” Plus, I agree with everything you said. :)

  11. Sadly, a very high percentage of female stars die before the age 55. Nutan was 54, Nargis 53, Meena Kumari 40, Geeta bali 34, madhubala 36, Kuldeep kaur 32 and now Sidevi 54

  12. Hmm. On the other hand, Zora Sehgal lived to 102, Sitara Devi died just a few years ago at the age of 94, and Kamini Kaushal is still alive and giving cheery interviews at 91. And there are quite a few stars from the Golden Age still alive and kicking (or even dancing) in their 80s.

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