The journey of various actresses can be eerily similar. They get launched in their 20s or sometimes even before that. They manage to make an impact with their first few films itself, if not the first film. They then rock the show as they do various films with prominent actors and filmmakers and register an impact. This more or less continues right through their 20s. In the 30s, they continue with their successful streak but this is also the decade when they decide to get hitched. Decades ago, many actresses used to bid adieu to the arc lights after taking the ‘saat pheras’. But later on, this norm was debunked by most of them. But after turning mothers, acting had to take a backseat, for some time at least. Once their child grows a bit, these actresses try their luck once again on celluloid. And during this second innings, many actresses fail to make a mark, at least the ones who ruled the 90s. In this regard, Sridevi stood out.
While making an analysis, we won’t count Kajol, Juhi Chawla and Tabu as both often take gaps in between. But they never had a ‘comeback’ as such as they were always coming up with films at regular intervals. Sridevi on the other hand wasn’t seen in films for almost 15 years. In 2012, she returned to movies with English Vinglish. The film had generated considerable excitement and thankfully, it did very well at the box office. And most importantly, it touched moviegoers a lot. Sridevi was brilliant as the docile housewife who finds a voice during a chance visit in New York. After such a great job, she disappeared once again and resurfaced in 2017 with a thriller, Mom. Now, this well-made film wasn’t a clean hit but did decent at the box office and trended very well. But due to its violent theme, it didn’t attract family audiences in large numbers. The word of mouth, however, was very positive.
Compare this with other heroines who made comebacks and Sridevi towers over them, despite the not-so-successful Mom. After getting pregnant with Aaradhya, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan took a temporary break from films. She returned with Jazbaa in 2015 and Sarbjit in 2016 and both films failed to make the desired impact, critically and even at the box office. In Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, she was very good but the focus was more on Ranbir Kapoor and Anushka Sharma on the whole. After marrying Sunjay Kapur in 2003, Karisma Kapoor stopped working in films and returned in 2012 with Vikram Bhatt’s 3D adventure Dangerous Ishqq. This flick however was bad to say the least and after that, she hasn’t signed any other flick.
After making a stunning impact in Devdas in 2002, Madhuri Dixit got pregnant and relocated to Denver. Her comeback film was Aaja Nachle that had aroused curiosity but it failed to make a mark. In 2014, she came up with two films – Dedh Ishqiya and Gulaab Gang – both of which tanked. Her item song in the 2013 blockbuster Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani however was a rousing success.
Lastly, Raveena Tandon too didn’t give acting much priority after her marriage. She was wasted in Bbuddah… Hoga Terra Baap and Bombay Velvet. She came up with a film last year, Maatr, which had her in a full-fledged role. Interestingly, it was eerily similar to the Sridevi-starrer Mom. But Maatr went totally unnoticed.
In fact, Raveena Tandon reportedly went on record to state that she and other actresses failed to follow the footsteps of Sridevi in making the right comeback. In my first and also last interaction with Sridevi during Mom promotions, she was asked to comment on Raveena Tandon’s statement. But the legendary actress refused to take credit and simply said that it was sheer coincidence that her comeback vehicle English Vinglish did well. She also added that she goes by her instincts in choosing a project.
It’s sad that this killer instinct of Sridevi along with the actress herself are now no longer there to give audiences films that entertain and touch them and also to prove a point that Bollywood actresses can do well even in their second innings. It remains to be seen if other actresses would be able to break this track record of Sridevi. Rani Mukerji’s comeback vehicle Mardaani was a hit and if her upcoming film Hichki also does well, she would then surely stand a chance to be in the league of the ‘Hawa Hawaai’ actress.