The shock of Sridevi’s death is still being felt across the industry. Numerous shoots were postponed. People cried on live television. Priyanka Chopra did an article in the international news magazine Time that Sridevi was a major reason why she became an actress. ‘To refer to all of us as mere fans would be a disservice to her. When the news first broke of her passing, I was immobilised. All I could do then was listen to songs from her films, revisit her interviews and watch her iconic scenes over and over again,’ she wrote.
Shah Rukh returned from Sridevi’s funeral and tweeted, ‘How can one not just feel love & beauty & be grateful for a life that became a part of yours in some small way by making it prettier....isn’t it just easier to feel love & give towards that life, even in death...the comfort of appreciation and gratitude.’
Sridevi was even accorded a state funeral, an honour that few get unless they have done yeomen service to the country. Whether Sridevi, as an actress and not someone involved in public issues, should have been given one was also a topic of discussion in social media but it was argued that she had received the Padma Shri, a government award, and that entitled her for consideration.
Most probably, the government saw the level of public sympathy and decided to accord her the state funeral. This was all amidst a really shameful display by the media, especially of the regional languages, which went into overdrive speculating on the nature of the death. They had animations of her dead body in a bathtub and one television reporter even went into a bathtub while talking about the death.
One Bollywood insider who also made controversial comments at such a sensitive time was Ram Gopal Varma. While saying that he was deeply affected by the death, he wrote an open letter to her fans revealing some aspects of Sridevi’s life that he thought they should know. He said that she had been unhappy, betrayed and robbed by many who had been close to her. He wrote that her father handled all her finances and when he died the people he had entrusted the money with, didn’t give it back to Sridevi and on top of that her mother made terrible investments.
He added, ‘…and all those mistakes combined made her almost penniless by the time Boney came into her life. He himself was in huge debts and all he could afford was to give her a shoulder to cry on…So in effect the woman desired by millions in the world was all alone and almost penniless in the world except for one Boney.’
Can he do it again?
Imran Khan’s fall has been one of the most spectacular in Bollywood in recent times. He started with a bang in the 2008 superhit movie Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na. For about three years, he managed to just about hang on with an occasional hit even though the flops still outnumbered. And then, all the movies began to tank until slowly there were just no takers for him anywhere. His last movie was Katti Batti! was in 2015 and that, too, did dismally at the box office.
But he might get a second chance now, though it is his family, particularly his uncle Aamir Khan, who is helping him out. Aamir, incidentally, was also instrumental in launching him with Jaane Tu. This time, he has reportedly offered Imran a role in the mega-venture around the mythology Mahabharata that Aamir is planning. It is said to be a project spanning five movies and Aamir might set aside a decade exclusively to work on it. And because the story has such a wide range of strong characters, it might not be too difficult to fit Imran in somewhere.
Whether that will resuscitate his career as a star is, of course another question altogether. Unless someone shows that he has the ability to draw in a substantial initial audience, Bollywood really has no sympathy for any fallen star. And in Imran’s case that point might have long since passed. Working with Aamir, he might be part of a huge blockbuster again but there might not be enough credit given to him unless he pulls off an incredible performance.
A surprise hit has been the recently released Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety. It was made at a low budget with relatively new actors. But the movie has raced to Rs50 crore in collections and, for the budget and absence of big stars, that is a very good showing. The main actors of the movie have appeared together in Pyar Ka Panchnama and its sequel, which were big hits. The two movies and Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety were all by the same director Luv Ranjan. They are all of the same genre of romantic comedy. And the combination seems to always get its magic correct in the box office, so chances are there will probably be a sequel to Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety. After all, why would anyone not keep a good thing going?
Run of flops
Sonakshi Sinha is now acquiring the reputation of an actress who is unable to deliver a hit, no matter what she tries. Her latest movie Welcome to New York has flopped badly in the box office, registering not even a whimper. What makes it worse for Sonakshi is that she has had four flops — Akira, Force 2, Noor and Ittefaq — just before this. They were either movies in which she herself was the central character or had a big A-list male star opposite. With a total of five movies that has not even recovered their money, Sonakshi’s career might just be on terminal decline. The silver lining is that her next is almost certain to be a huge blockbuster. This is because it is the third edition of the Salman Khan franchise Dabangg. The industry will expect it to make a minimum of Rs 200crore but Salman will walk away with all the accolades. Sonakshi might just get a short lifeline but after that she will once again have to come out with some winners to stay in the running.
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