Sridevi as a Telugu Superstar
The country is still reeling under the news of sudden demise of the actress Sridevi, being called upon as the first superstar of Indian film industry. Although she became famous later as a superstar in Bollywood film, her career began in the south. In fact, before Mumbai film industry came to be mesmerized by her talent and charm she was already a superstar in south India, especially in Telugu film. She started her career as a child artist at the age of four.
She acted in a number of blockbusters Telugu film opposing NTR but her first role as a leading lady was in a Tamil film “Moondru Mudichu” directed by K Balachander. Her first super-hit film in Telugu as a heroine was Padaherella Vayasu in 1978, after that she went on to become the number one heroine in the Telugu film industry.
She acted in numerous hit films with NTR, Sobhan Babu, ANR and Krishna during the late 70’s and early 80’s. These include Kondaveeti Simham, Vetagadu, Premabhishekam, Sardar Paparayudu and Bobbili Puli etc.
Let’s have a look at her top 5 Telugu films –
- Padaharella Vayasu
This movie was a remake of the famous Tamil movie “16 Vayathinile” and it stared Rajinikanth and Chandra Mohan along with Sridevi. The movie saw Sridevi matured as a beautiful actress especially in the music scene of Srimalle Purva. Her performance in this film was one of her best and captured the imagination of millions.
- Karthika Deepam
This movie starring Sridevi, Sarada, and Shobhan Babu had a gripping script which keeps the audience engrossed until the end. Interestingly, the subtle yet strong performance by the two leading ladies completely outwitted the performance of Shobhan Babu.
- Jagadeka Veerudu Athiloka Sundari
Sridevi acted opposite megastar Chiranjeevi in this movie and blew off the audience with her charisma and beauty playing a role as an angel. The movie had everything for a commercial success romance, action comedy and of course Amrish Puri as a villain. There were scenes in the movie which would not have been watchable without Sridevi’s presence.
- Kshana Kshanam
Directed by Ram Gopal Verma, this movie saw Sridevi in all her avatars, her looks, beauty, charisma, talent, and acting stole the show. Even a professional like Paresh Rawal could not stand out due to Sridevi’s screen presence.
- Aakhari Poratam
Young Sridevi dancing away with a very young Nagarjuna stole the heart of many fans and also impressed the critics. The song Tella Cheera was a super-duper hit.
Sridevi’s Impact on Telugu Film Industry
Although she acted in five different film industry, Tamil, Telugu, Kannard, Malayalam, and Hindi, but neither in Hindi nor in Tamil, had the superstar created the greatest impact than on Telugu Film Industry. Her work in Telugu films spanned decades and was diverse in nature.
Savitri had always been considered as the number one star of Telugu of Telugu film industry, but it was Sridevi who successfully stole the limelight from all other co-stars even the heavyweights of the South Indian films like NTR, Chiranjeevi or Shobhan Babu whenever she was cast.
In 1991 classic Kshana Kshanam, directed by Ram Gopal Verma, Sridevi played the role of a middle-class woman Satya who against her will caught in a criminal incident easily outperformed Venkatesh playing the role of Chandu. She acted with her eyes brilliantly in this film and portrayed the emotional transformation from shock to calmness with unbelievable ease.
In 1990, she in her role as an angel in Jagadeka Veerude Atiloka Sundari opposing Chiranjeevi was literally looked out of the world. Her brilliant expression of confusing innocence wrapped in a funny container took the breath away. It was her performance which had helped Chiranjeevi to become a superstar in Telugu film.
Sridevi undoubtedly had a significant role to play not only for Chiranjeevi to become a superstar but also for Venkatesh and Nagarjuna. She also had a very important role to play to uplift many male superstar’s second innings. She easily filled the void left by Savitri, Jamuna and other female superstar and recorded one huge hit one after another with NTR in Vetagaadu (1979), Sardar Papa Rayudu (1980) and Bobbili Puli (1982). Her sensuous dance with Aaku Chaatu Pindhe Tadise in the rain with a veteran 56-year-old NTR had raised the temperatures long before Kaate Nahi Kat Te in Mr. India.
In spite of her long stint with Telugu film where she worked with almost all the male superstars, it was Sridevi’s pairing with Krishna that had the longest and most memorable engagement. Between 1979 and 1987 every year they had a movie together and in 1982 the duo performed in eight movies as lead actor and actress. Together they notched up 29 films and it seemed that they had a readymade hit formula in the 80s.
Sridevi worked in six movies with renowned A Nageswara Rao and seven movies with Sobhan Babu. In these movies, she showed that she could play an even long sentimental role with ease. One of these movies were Premabhiskekam (1981), in which she acted against Rao was one of the biggest hit of the 80s.
In the late 70s and 80s, she started working as a lead actress but her career as a child artist also gave us some unforgettable hits like Badi Panthulu.
Sridevi’s stint with Tollywood not only spanned over a few decades but also outshined many male stalwarts.