The question is not whether Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit were good actresses. The question is not even whether they have scorched Bollywood silver screen. The war cry for this edition of Star Wars is simple: Between the two, who was the bigger star?
Ruling Bollywood as undisputed No 1s, Sridevi and Madhuri were the true superstars of Bollywood. Very few before or after them had the power to draw initials single-handedly. Their names were enough to bring the masses to the movie-halls, and seldom did the two disappoint their loyal patrons. Neither Sridevi nor Madhuri belonged to cinema clans; they went through the grind, Sridevi doing child roles in south Indian films, and Madhuri making a not very auspicious start despite being part of the then-kingmakers – the Rajshri Productions. Sridevi had to brave it out in the Tamil industry, eventually finding her foothold as the preferred heroine for any Kamal Haasan or Rajnikanth movie. Her conquest was slow – a few Malayalam films here, some Telugu there, and Tamil being her reigning turf.
While their talent quotient and rich endearing expressions are undeniable strengths, it would be no exaggeration to say that Sridevi and Madhuri earned cult following, especially in Bollywood, through the power of their hips (absolutely no pun intended).
Those B-grade Jeetendra-flicks, most of them remade from Tamil or Telugu, featuring dance numbers, where the number of colorful pots dotting the silver screen still didn’t outnumber the pelvic thrusts of the lead actors, shaped the Bollywood destiny of Sridevi. For Madhuri, the clincher was the ‘Ek Do Teen…’ number from ‘Tezaab’, a song that continues to regale the new generation through countless enactments on reality television shows.
However, to the credit of Sridevi and Madhuri, it was more than their dance skills or body moves that made them truly endearing to the masses. Perhaps they helped in sealing the sad fate of the one-dance-vamps that earlier were a must-have accessory of Bollywood films. Where both the actresses – one a south Indian who couldn’t even speak Hindi accent-free and the other a trained microbiologist turned actress from Maharashtra – scored was in their ability to endear themselves to the massea. Who is to forget the ‘Parinda’ of Madhuri or the ‘Chandni’ of Sridevi? They might not have been feted with national awards; their roles are remembered to this day. They also had this uncanny knack to outsmart everyone else they share the screen space – Madhuri’s ‘Devdas’, and Sridevi’s ‘Mr. India’ to start with.
By the time Sridevi and Madhuri had called it quits – albeit temporarily – both had built a powerful body of works that is sure to stand the test of time. From ‘Sadma’ – the remake of the Tamil hit ‘Moondram Pirai’ to ‘Lamhe’, ‘Khuda Ghawa’, ‘Chaalbaaz’ and ‘Nagina’, Sridevi gave notable performances that underlined her caliber and charisma in equal measure. Madhuri had a bigger catch: Mention India’s all-time hits, and her name figures – ‘Tezaab’, ‘Ram Lakhan’, ‘Tridev’, ‘Dil’, ‘Hum Aapke Hain Kaun’, ‘Saajan’, ‘Khalnayak’, ‘Dil To Pagal Hai’, ‘Mrityudand’, and ‘Devdas’, apart from a slew of other box office hits.
Sridevi had the enviable track-record of having been paired opposite most of India’s superstars, across all languages. From Amitabh Bachchan, Jeetendra to Anil Kapoor to Rajnikanth, Kamal Hassan, N. T. Rama Rao and A. Nageswara Rao, she was the heroine of the superstars. Madhuri’s career is equally distinguished – while it being more or less Bollywood-centric. She shouldered equal weightage roles in movies with Anil Kapoor, Sanjay Dutt, Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan, never undermining her own importance in any of her films. She went on to become the muse of legendary painter M. F. Hussain, another feather in her cap. Sridevi married into Bollywood – being the better half of a man who is central to the industry; Madhuri married out of the industry – entering the life of someone who hadn’t even seen her act.
But both made their graceful exit; Madhuri returned and proved she can still create a stir in Bollywood with ‘Aaja Nachle’; Sridevi returned with ‘English Vinglish’.
While Madhuri, having moved to the US is back fairly recently, she is obviously still missing from Bollywood mainstream, Sridevi graces film functions and even sizzles on the ramp.
Both have made their mark – playing a long and remarkable innings. So who do you think was one notch higher up in star power? The south Indian girl who could wink at you from the screen and make your heart skip a beat; or the Maharashtrian, whose smile could give you sleepless nights?
Source : Msn. com/Rajeev Nair/ India Syndicate