Toronto

Mourning 'massive' Bollywood star Sridevi with a die-hard fan

Torontonian Dilani Rabindran grew up admiring the Bollywood star’s many talents

Posted: February 26, 2018

In turn funny, tough, and charming, Sridevi's career spanned 50 years and multiple genres. She died on Saturday, Feb. 24. (Lionel Cironneau/Associated Press)

When Torontonian Dilani Rabindran first heard rumours that Bollywood megastar Sridevi had died at age 54, she didn't want to believe they were true.

Rabindran, the founder of a company that promotes South Asian cinema around the world, had grown up watching films from Sridevi's 50-year career.

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"She was kind of everything that I thought a gorgeous heroine should be," Rabindran said in an interview on Metro Morning. "She was strong, she was tough, she was charming, she was funny."

After reports that the star had died on Saturday were confirmed, "my family and I, like many South Asian families around the world this weekend, were pretty much just glued to the TV non-stop," she said. 

'She was acting since the time she was four years old… she grew up on screen,' said Rabindran of Sridevi. (Submitted by Dilani Rabindran)

Sridevi — whose full name was Sridevi Kapoor — was a "massive" star who broke barriers in Indian cinema, said Rabindran.

The first bonafide female superstar in Bollywood, she was "one of the first female stars to demand screen time on par with her male co-stars, and she was even paid higher remuneration than her male co-stars in India, which was practically unheard of," she explained.

Sridevi was also known for her range as a performer: she was a graceful dancer who had impeccable comedic timing — on display in movies like Mr. India — where she mimics Charlie Chaplin, complete with twirling cane and moustache.

In her most recent film, a "gritty thriller" called Mom, she also showed off her dramatic chops, playing a mother seeking revenge for the rape of her daughter, said Rabindran.  

In 2012, Rabindran managed to meet Sridevi while working on the red carpet at the Toronto International Film Festival, where the star's latest film, English Vinglish, was premiering.

"When she approached me, all I could do was muster out, 'I absolutely love you ma'am and I used to learn all of your dances as a kid.' She just smiled at me and said, 'You're too sweet.'"

"It is one of the greatest moments of my career," said Rabindran.

After speaking with Sridevi, she looked up to see her parents, who had introduced her to Sridevi when she was a child.

They were on the other side of a barricade, "screaming like crazy fans."

She smiled and flashed them a thumbs up.

With files from Metro Morning