Actor Sridevi’s has been one of the most enduring careers in Indian cinema, spanning Bollywood and regional film industries. That makes her — acclaimed actor, glamorous star, box office queen of her heydays, and Padma Shri award winner — the perfect person to say what it means to be a woman in this high-pressure industry. Since being a star is still a lot about one’s appearance, Sridevi says that it’s not an easy task for female actors to consistently maintain standards of perfection. They’re always under pressure to look good, even when they’re not on camera, she says. That pressure has only been increased by the age of social media.“If the actor is being herself, tired , with just a bun on and posts a picture on social media, then the comments will come. So many comments such as ‘what is she looking like’, ‘what chappal is she wearing’. Then as an actor you feel ,why give a chance to anyone to do that. You better look your best, even if you are going through hell inside,” says Sridevi, whose performance in her recently released film Mom has garnered appreciation.
As for herself, Sridevi says that she managed to steer her career while keeping the pressures at bay. She enjoyed being a leading lady — “I got to wear different clothes, I got to do the best roles.” And she didn’t let box office numbers kill her sleep. “If the picture does well, I’m surprised and happy; and if it doesn’t do well, then it’s part of your profession. You see what went wrong and try not to do the same mistake,” says Sridevi.
The 53-year-old actor made a comeback after a 15-year-long sabbatical with English Vinglish, where she played the role of a middle-aged woman trying to learn English. Is taking up a relatable role a priority now? “English Vinglish just came to me. It just fell in my lap. I was not consciously planning to pick up anything. When something comes to me and appeals to me, touches my heart and I feel for the character, I do it,” she says.