To Sridevi with love: You took away the beauty of ‘beautiful’ today
My introduction to you has to be credited to the black and white television set that was the most pride-worthy thing about our drawing room during my childhood. The local cable service provider frequently played songs from ‘Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja’. And I will be honest; ours wasn’t love at first sight.
In 2001 or 2002, I happened to watch ‘Mr. India’. A ten-year-old girl then, I wasn’t bothered about it being one of the first science fiction Hindi films, to be honest. But I could go on and looking at you, as you threw some of your magical and smile and giggled, ‘Kehte Hai Mujhko, Hawa Hawai’. I later knew, they named it iconic. And why forget ‘Kaate Nahi Kat Te’? You, for the first time, painted before my naive eyes how craving for one’s beloved looked like. That was when I truly fell in love with you.
It has taken me some time to discover your best works. From your effortless double role in ‘Chaalbaaz’ to Chandni, which thanks to you, went many notched higher than being just another romantic film, from ‘Lamhe’ which is arguably Yash Chopra’s best film ever to ‘Judaai’, your last film before the voluntary hibernation from films that you took, I’ve more than plenty to tell you why I adore you so much. Alas, you’re gone too soon and I didn’t write this earlier.
In a country where majority of audience obsesses over Hindi films, many wouldn’t know how much volume you added to the Southern school of cinema. Who can forget your winning act a rescued patient of retrogade amnesia in ‘Moondram Pirai’ or ’16 Vayathinile’, which can be easily called an all-time cult in Tamil cinema? Ram Gopal Varma‘s immense fondness for you is known to all. ‘Kshanam Kshanam’ is probably one of Varma’s most high-rated films, and one of your best works in Telugu films as well. I could go on and on about this.
For 15 long years, you kept yourself away from the magic of big screen. We all wondered, how and why! Now I come to realise, you just switched roles. In a world where relationships are fragile and purpose is so often lost, you figured your priorities and devoted your time to what you held dearest; your family.
And when you returned with ‘English Vinglish’, I rejoiced your second innings. In fact, this was a new you. The you who embraced her age, her wisdom and was filled with a hunger for doing the new. Little did we know, the brief race would come to an end with ‘Mom’.
A million times, I’ve wanted to be as beautiful as you. As expressive, graceful, majestic, charming as you. But today, as a part of childhood dies down with you, I want to be as dutiful and as confident a woman that you’ve been. I want to be as fierce as you were with your choices and I want to be as much capable of loving as you were.
Dear Sridevi, against the eyes of ordinary girls, you painted a fairytale. With you leaving us behind, beauty won’t be beauty anymore. But you’ll be beautiful, and we will never love you less.
Just one more woman who wished to be you.
Kapoor & Sons: Caught the plight of homosexuals tenderly and yet made 'coming out' look doable
Kapoor & Sons – Since 1921. The house proudly flaunted that to the world, nestled in the greens of Coonoor. No one knew the darkness that was inside, the demons that were individually dealt with. But then, isn’t every family like that?
Two years have passed by since this Shakun Batra-directorial, story of a dysfunctional family had come to our lives. However, amongst the various themes that tore apart the family and eventually brought it together, one that truly had the power to transform, was that of homosexuality.
Not many know, that the role played by Fawad Khan, that of family’s elder son, a successful author, was actually offered to many A-listers, who turned it down, eventually leading him to step into the shoes of Rahul. And it was, indeed, a very big step on his part. He was venturing out of his territory, a man who has such a huge female-fan following, and comes from a country with religion as its main running philosophy. He did the role and brought such conviction to it that we were forced to stand up and applaud, his courage, and the beauty with which his character was carved.
Since times immemorial, all our memories of gay characters on screen have been that of carelessly effeminate and unimportant roles, which are just there to add a comic element. The stereotype has been high to an extent that often the champions of the same channelise it and promote it, for it is wrapped in the shiny paper of presentation. The biggest example of this was ‘Dostana’, which was an amazing story of friendship, still used homosexuality as humour, as its backdrop. Ironically, it came from the same production house, though nearly eight years before that.
But ‘Kapoor & Sons’ begged to differ here. The character here was real, someone who was hiding himself, for the society, his family. There was surreality to the theme of homosexuality here, which had the power to jar us inside out; and that, it did.
Two scenes from the movie specifically hit me. First one is when Sunita (Ratna Patak Shah) finds out that her ideal elder son, whom she adores and is proud of, is not straight. The aftereffects of the same jolt you, because the reaction is just what an Indian mother gives, in any situation that is beyond her control; uncontrollable anger at the offspring, and then uncontrollable guilt, of blaming herself and her upbringing. The scene is filmed so beautifully, that your eyes sting. The way Fawad’s facade falls and his fear is marked across his face, which is then replaced by the anger of hiding himself for all those years, and mother’s dilemma and hurt, it all comes out in a naked and real manner.
Another sequence is when Rahul (Fawad Khan) comes back home after the showdown with his mother and the death of his father totally uproots whatever sanity his family possessed. He sits with his mother, with whom his last encounter was one of his coming out, and she asks, hesitatingly, about his partner. A subtle way of expressing acceptance, the way they hold hands, without saying anything, it stays with you.
It may not be one masterpiece, but ‘Kapoor & Sons’ will forever remain a favourite for finally breaking the mainstream stereotype of a gay man, in Bollywood. And for that, no matter how many bans, I will forever be waiting for Fawad Khan to come back, and give us more performances; with dare and conviction.
An ode to Sridevi, the queen who inspired the queers long before it became mainstream
“I am a kid from the 90s but still can’t forget those days when, me-myself was not out and proud about my preferences. And inside my own sweet world would dance in front of the mirror on many songs, but majorly on ‘Hawa Hawai’ and ‘Main Teri Dushman, Dushman Tu Mera’. These songs were just not tunes for me, it made me feel exactly what I was; a QUEERby birth”.
The news of the legendary diva Sridevi being no more with us is still hard to believe, as she was part of my and every queer’s childhood memories. While in the late 90s my bunch of friends would idolise a star from the West as their gay icon, me being a full-fledged Bollywood fanatic was in love with Sridevi and she was a diva I used to worship (and will forever). Her golden costume and perfectly done makeup in ‘Hawa Hawai’ made me feel, “Yes! There is someone like me out there who loves bling and all things loud.” Her feather headgear in one of the songs from ‘Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja’, touched my drag Queen‘s soul. One of the lines from her song ‘Hawa Hawai’ which is ‘Soorat Hi Maine Aisi Paayi’ transported me into a world where I thought that there is someone narcissist just like me. Sridevi’s charm was on my mind and the feminine side in me just wanted to be a replica of her.
The gone actress has not only given a lot to the Indian cinema, but her sass and talent of naturally moulding herself into any character gave her an upper hand in whatever she used to do. When many gay men were struggling and were confused about their sexual orientation they found a connection to their on-going pain in Sridevi’s roles. Whether it was Sridevi as a meek Anju and ferocious Manju fighting for everything wrong in ‘ChaalBaaz’ (1989), Pooja’s mutiny against the everlasting societal conditions in ‘Lamhe’ (1991), Seema’s confidence-filled and fearless dance in the ‘Mr. India’ (1987) song ‘Hawa Hawaai’ or her role of a naagin (snake) coming out to the world about her dual identity in ‘Nagina’ (1986), Sri’s roles had a deep connection and were etched in every GAY man’s mind.
And how can one miss ‘Kate Nahin Kat Te’ song of Sridevi from ‘Mr. India’, where she owned the song and made every gay guy’s dream to dance on it once with his man. This particular song was wild, seductive and equal parts bold. Sridevi draped in a sky-blue coloured saree with a matching bindi and of course adding fuel to the fire was her dancing moves. Even at the end of the song, a fully wet in rainwater, Sridevi stretching herself on a pile of hay – ‘Tumne jo li angdayi hai’ – where the diva nibbles on straws with a drenched fire in her eyes, leaving Mr. Kapoor to chivalrously lie on a distant haystack.
While mostly when the film fraternity was in a zone where feminine men were used as a tool to add fun elements on the silver screen, Sridevi was a ray of hope for the LGBTQ community. She was like a powerful symbol for the QUEERS. Her role resonated each and every gays struggle, and also echoed their dysphoria into her characters. And with her, all the queer children surpassed the narrow-minded stereotypes which they were labelled with. Lastly, she might be gone, but the colourful rainbow universe she opened for all the fellow LGBTQ people remains there intact..
Hail the QUEEN! RIP Sridevi.