Sridevi Kapoor, arguably the biggest Bollywood actor of the ‘80s and ‘90s and known, commonly, as “Sridevi,” has died of a heart attack at 54, BBC reports. Capable of tuning facial expressions with master precision, truly, she was known for her versatility and screenpower which challenged the power dynamic baked into male and female roles. Speaking to CNN, film critic Rajeev Masand said, “It didn’t matter who the male actors where, the movies were shouldered by Sridevi.”
Sridevi began acting at the age of four and gained mainstream fame for her lionized performance in the 1983 drama Sadma, in which she played a 20-year-old who suffers a brain injury, leaving her with the mind of a child, and then is trapped in a brothel. She starred in nearly 300 films spanning languages and genres, dancing, singing, performing fight sequences, delivering dramatic performances as well as comedic impressions. She more recently grew into what the Guardian describes as a national “mum” figure via sitcom TV and as a reality judge on Kaboom in 2005. She took a break from making films in the aughts and was no less successful with her return in Vinglish in 2012. In 2013, the Indian government awarded her the fourth highest civilian honor, the Padma Shri.
Her early and many-time co-star Kamal Haasan once called her a “blotting paper” for her ability to absorb skills from childhood. The Indian Express notes that her performances in Hindi overshadowed her early body of work in Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam cinema, a full career before Bollywood.