From Sivakasi to Bollywood –The Diva Who Left Us Too SoonFeb 26, 2018
Sridevi was an icon. She is gone too soon and the nation is mourning the loss. But, there is also a lot of discussion about the choices she made off-screen.
She defined what it was to be a success in every sphere of life. Born in Sivakasi, she scaled the heights of success in regional as well as Hindi cinema and rewrote the rules of superstardom. For women, I think her success meant a lot more than it probably must have meant for herself. In a country where girls were bought up to be married off, she chose to be driven by her career. Her rock-solid dedication that her co-stars and directors describe is exemplary. However, her career was not devoid of controversies; people have and still do call her plastic. Her alleged nose job, her other speculated plastic surgeries have been widely criticised and are definitely not idolised.
Assuming that she did get all those surgeries done, I cannot help but wonder how a woman who walked several uncharted territories in her life and achieved as much as she did in her golden career must have succumbed to the pressures of fitting into an ‘image’ that society demanded. For a second, I remember the Mayilu from the Tamil film 16 Vayathinile, the face that captured hearts like it was born to do so. What was wrong with that face that it required ‘correction’? If a beauty like her needed further corrections then what about the rest of us ordinary women?
Did she do it because she wanted it done? Or did she do it for approval from others? Or wait, did she do it for us?
There is definitely not just one reason that we can pinpoint. But, the fact is that we as a society have definitely contributed to this unnatural body image that women are made to idealise. The roots of this problem are deeper than we can imagine. If we just follow the trail of issues that might have lead to a leading superstar lose self-esteem and take the decision to change her body, we will be surprised to where it goes back to. If she had been as she had, would we have found her ‘fit’ to be an actress? Haven’t we all labelled so many actresses as ‘too fat’, ‘too old’, or ‘too ugly’? This leads us to the question of too ugly for what? Well, for the standard roles written for women actresses.
Most female characters are written to be just pretty faces and perfect bodies that are nothing more than arm-candies to our very average looking ‘heroes’. Are any of us in real life that stupid? Aren’t we women one of the toughest creatures on this planet? But that is seldom depicted onscreen. Why? The writers themselves are men who have a very limited perception of women, that’s why. No matter how aged a hero is, they want a 20-year-old heroine. But the reverse or even an equally aged couple on screen is forbidden. So, women are perpetually trying to remain young to stay relevant. Why are we accepting this?
Women themselves are so critical of other women that for a minute a doubt arises whether we belong to the same species. We live in a world where ‘man up’ is a motivating term and ‘don’t be such a girl’ is its antonym and guess what, it is the mothers who say this to their kids more than the fathers. Don’t we need to change this situation? We have the responsibility, as women, to start rooting for our own gender. We have to stop this unending cycle of disrespect that we show to our own gender. Because ultimately, what we talk about another woman is in a way about us too.
If only the society did not drive women towards insecurities, maybe we could have still seen a Sridevi who aged gracefully. But, whatever she did was her choice and it is high time that we stop judging her for her choices. While it is definitely our responsibility to stop any kind of body shaming and build a foundation for a secure future for women where they are accepted for what they are, it is just an extension of the same responsibility to love Sridevi for what she was and be grateful for all those magical moments she created on-screen as well as all the lessons she has taught us off it.