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In memory of Bollywood boundary breaker Sridevi

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The news that Bollywood mega-star and renowned actress Sridevi passed away on Saturday evening came as a shock to all. At just 54 years old, Sridevi still had so many more stories to tell, lives to change, and boundaries to challenge.

Starting her film career at the age of 4 in Thuniavan (1969), the actress, born Shree Amma Yanger Ayyapan, starred in the Tamil film industry for many years before breaking into the more mainstream Bollywood. Despite her initial struggle with speaking Hindi, the lead in Solva Sawan (1979) was her breakout Bollywood role, in which she plays a young girl whose strong ambition and sense of self shape the film.

Sridevi's illustrious career in the 80s and 90s leaves her with a list of credits that undoubtedly cement her as one of the most impactful actresses in Indian film. Her role in Yash Chopra's Chandni (1989) opposite Rishi Kapoor is an iconic one, that will be remembered for generations to come. Far from the traditional coy Bollywood heroines, Sridevi shaped a new generation of female leads with attitude and ambition of their own.

After taking a break from acting to raise her family with producer Boney Kapoor, Sridevi made a comback to Bollywood with comedy-drama English Vinglish (2012), which follows the story of an Indian housewife and entrepreneur on her journey of learning English. Though told through a lens of comedy, the film gracefully tackles issues of class and the effects of colonialism on Indian culture, as well adressing the equation of English-language ability and intelligence that plagues people of many cultures across the world. 

The 2017 thriller Mom saw Sridevi take on an even more groundbreaking role: that of a mother out to enact brutal vigilante justice on her daughter's attackers. The issue of rape cases being ignored by police departments in India is sadly a very relevant one, and this film allows Sridevi to take on the role of a righteous enacter of justice.

Last night, while attending the wedding of her husband's nephew in Dubai, Sridevi suffered a cardiac arrest and passed away. She will be seen once more on the big screen in a cameo in Shah Rukh Khan's upcoming Zero, which is set to release in December this year. Sridevi's daughter Jhanvi is set to make her Bollywood debut in the upcoming Dhadak (2018).

Sridevi's talent and beauty will forever be immortalised in her films, but it really is such a tragedy that the world has lost such an inspiring figure too soon.

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