Since the news of actress Sridevi’s death broke, we have been inundated with information about her film career that spanned several film industries, her top films, most memorable songs, analysis on her unique acting style, her comic timing, and large, expressive eyes always ready to burst into tears or tease, but most of all, her ability to be a "switch on-switch off" actress; someone who was painfully shy and quiet when not in front of the camera, but who could literally switch on a button inside her brain the minute the director yelled "Action", and light up the screen with her effervescence.
In this aspect, Sridevi will always remain a bit of an enigma. How can someone live two such opposing lives? Superbly executing comic sequences, giggling and pulling off histrionics with ease, and then suddenly metamorphosing into a reticent, quiet, and painfully shy person off screen? Sridevi did. And it probably had to do with the fact that acting was ingrained in her, she knew no other way.
Sridevi debuted at the age of four.
Debuting at the age of four, she went on to do several roles as a child artist in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada films, and played her first adult role at the age of 13 in the Tamil film Moondru Mudichu. That probably explains why several people have often referred to her as a child woman. She retained a childlike charm, possibly because she never really had a regular childhood, opting out of school to choose films.
In an interview to journalist Harneet Singh, quoted by the latter in a recent article for The Print, Sridevipondered over the question, "What was the secret relationship that she shared with the camera?", and replied, “I think it has to do with the fact that I started acting when I was too young to even realise what it was.”
Films were Sridevi’s life, her playground, and her school. It was a bubble existence, and inside it, she thrived. Off screen though, she remained aloof. Journalist Supriya Nair writes in Mint, “I came across an undiscarded 1987 issue of Stardust. One of its stories was a narrative that was a monthly staple at the height of Sridevi’s powers: the story about her unhappy life off screen. Dashed off with the level stare and matter-of-fact relish of the professional voyeur, it speculated about Sridevi’s private life in what you sensed was oft-repeated detail. The affairs with married co-stars were inevitably unhappy. Parental control of her life was harsh and exhaustive. The interests of a woman who had never had a formal education, never made a decision for herself, never done anything but act in the movies, were precisely nothing. When she wasn’t working, Stardust said, she wandered aimlessly through her house clutching a large stuffed doll, in effect an effigy of herself.”
Several people have often referred to her as a child woman.
Much like the "switch-on, switch-off" button, her reel and real life continued to play out at different ends of the spectrum. Despite all the fame and adulation, and the successful transition to Bollywood, Sridevi’s personal life was fraught with speculation and rumours. Her "secret wedding" to superstar Mithun was never corroborated but actively discussed. And then came the big scandal — the involvement with producer Boney Kapoor, a married man with two children.
According to a column in The Telegraph, Sridevi was apparently pregnant and when Boney’s mother-in-law, the feisty producer Sattee Shourie found out, she was livid, and even confronted the couple who were having coffee at a five-star hotel. Shourie supposedly filed a case against Boney for bigamy, but it seems that since the aggrieved party, Boney's wife Mona, was unwilling to fight and make the private matter, public, the case died a slow death. Marriage legitimised the Boney-Sridevi union, and their daughter was born months later. This was 1996.
Sridevi said that being a mother was her life’s greatest joy, more than acting.
But this union left in its wake Boney’s first wife Mona, who had to fend for her two children (who were 11, and 6, respectively, when Boney married Sridevi), and by all accounts, Boney did not have a large role to play in their growing up years. In 2012, Mona succumbed to cancer, at 48, just months before Arjun’s debut film Ishaqzaade could release. Arjun, who was 25 then, was obviously very close to his mother, and has said in interviews that he felt he had lost his backbone.
In an interview, Arjun said, “There is no respite from the death of a mother.” In the same interview, he also says that when his mother died, his worry was how he would take care of his sister. “It’s like having a child when you’re least prepared.” When asked what relationship he shares with Sridevi or her daughters, Arjun has preferred not to comment.
Her comic timing, and large, expressive eyes were always ready to burst into tears or tease.
Sridevi’s life finally seemed to have settled down. The next 20 years after her marriage to Boney were probably the actress’ most stable and satisfying years, when she took a backseat from acting and focussed on creating and nurturing her family, away from the arc lights she was used to since the age of 4. In the interview to Singh, Sridevi said that being a mother was her life’s greatest joy, more than acting. It is perhaps telling that in both her comeback and subsequent films, English Vinglish and Mom, Sridevi essayed the role of a mother. In both films, she delivered understated, mature performances, and owned the roles.
Perhaps, it was the only time in her life that her two worlds met beautifully, and she was able to essay on screen what she was off screen — a caring mom to two children.
It is a tragedy that in real life, as her daughter Jhanvi gets ready to debut, Sridevi will not be around to essay that role anymore. And it is ironic that while both Arjun and Jhanvi share a father, they will now also share a tragedy — while Mona could not see Arjun’s success, Sridevi will not be around to see Jhanvi’s.
Also read: Why social media users coming up with theories on what caused Sridevi's death is disturbing
Divorce is No Answer to an Unhappy Marriage
Robbe Lyn Sebesta • August 31, AD2013
Leo Tolstoy is frequently quoted from his classic novel Anna Karenina as saying how all happy families are the same, but unhappy families are all unhappy in different ways. I disagree and feel that he got it backward. Happiness is infinite in its variety, and happy people and happy families can find their joy in so many different ways. Its true that happiness is not very profound as far as art is concerned – it is not the stuff that classic Russian novels are made of – but a family that is happy has the ability to do so much, to try so much, to be so much in ways that unhappy families are too consumed with their sorrow to explore. When you’re happy, there’s so much you can do, but when you’re sad, all you can do is sit around and be miserable.
And it seems to me that all unhappy families are pretty much the same. All types of misery are identified at the core. And this, incidentally, is what unites people in the halls of Alcoholics Anonymous. There, they say that all addictions are alike in that someone addicted to alcohol is no different from one who is addicted to heroin. The brain registers all pleasures in the same way, whether they originate with a psychoactive drug, a monetary reward, a sexual encounter, or a satisfying meal. In the brain, pleasure has a distinct signature: the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the nucleus accumbens, a cluster of nerve cells lying underneath the cerebral cortex. Dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens is so consistently tied with pleasure that neuroscientists refer to the region as the brain’s pleasure center. In any unhappy family, whether the problem is that the mother drinks, or the father is abusive, or the parents want to kill each other, the skeleton of the story line is always the same. The description of what causes the pathology is the same. It’s always something about not being loved enough as a child, or being neglected at some other point. If you listen to any unhappy person tell his tale of woe, it sounds like every other tale of woe.
But can divorce possibly work when a child is involved? I know these days a small industry of marriage counselors and divorce therapists devote themselves to easing the process of parental separation for the sake of the children. And I know that all these people are just trying to help, trying to arrange things so that as long the family is in the proverbial Alaska, they may as well have a good warm coat to wear, but can this situation of divorced parents ever be all right? Indeed, any breakup of even a brief relationship is rife with potential all kinds of emotional rampages. So how can we possibly be so pragmatic and realistic, as to ask a couple going through a divorce to try to check their feelings and behave themselves and cooperate and be nice for the sake of the children? Of all the odd demands that modern life makes on humanity, the most difficult may be the expectation that we get along, maintain friendships, and share parental duties. It asks that we pretend that heartbreak is a minor inconvenience that can be over come with just the right amount of therapy, and repetitions of the mantra “for the sake of the children.”
It is no surprise that a generation of children of divorce have grown into a world of extended adolescence. Divorce, in our society, has become normal, and the idea of unconditional love is much harder to fathom. Knowing all of this, it is no wonder to me that God hates divorce.
Gospel recording artist Amy Grant says she felt like a failure for getting a divorce in 1999, but believes God \”released\” her from her 16-year marriage to Gary Chapman in a 1999 Baptist Standard interview. Grant said she believes God hates divorce but not the people involved.
\”I know why God hates divorce,\” she said, \”because it rips you from stem to stem, and children are the total innocent recipients of a torn and shattered life.\”
\”There\’s not a week that doesn\’t go by that I don\’t really cry out from the soles of my feet and just say, \’God, let me go back. How could this have worked out differently?\’\” she said.
Yet, \”as a functioning, somewhat intelligent woman,\” Grant said she also got to the point of asking how many times she must \”duct-tape\” herself and pretend everything was OK.
\”At some point, you see the path ahead of you, and you say, \’I have to walk this path because I believe it\’s the path that I have to walk,\’ regardless of anybody\’s opinion.\”
Though the divorce has been \”unbelievably humbling\” it also has been healing, she said. \”It makes me incredibly thankful that God is a God of second chances.\”
Indeed He is, and that is why it only through His grace can any true healing occur. And the problem is, too many believe in the idea that therapy without the healing benefits of the sacraments is enough. It assumes that you will have a series of revelations, or even just one little one, that these various truths will come to you and will change your life completely. It assumes that insight alone is a transformative force. But we as Catholics know, it doesn’t work that way. In real life, every day you might come to some new conclusion about yourself and about the reasoning behind your behavior, and you can tell yourself that this knowledge will make all the difference. But in all likelihood, you will keep doing the same old things. You will still cling to your destructive habits because you’re emotional tie to them is so strong – so much stronger than any insight you might come up with – that the crazy things you do are really the only things you’ve got that keep you centered and connected. They are the only things about you that make you you. And it isn’t until we die to our selves completely and let the Holy Spirit enter in that we can make any real transformation. For that it when, as a reflection of Our Lord, we can become more like Him, and in doing so, that is where we find our true selves, and who He meant for us to be.
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Filed in: Marriage & Family