1. Jaag Utha Insaan (1984): This, according to me, is the most neglected film of Sridevi’s vast and far-ranging oeuvre. She played a Brahmin girl in love with a Dalit boy (Mithun Chakraborty). Her dancing with the South Indian temples as the backdrop is to die for. Director K Vishwanath who normally preferred to work with Sridevi’s rival Jaya Prada here made an exception that made us Sridevi fans drool in delight. Very few films have captured this classical side of Sri’s personality. This one is soup for the eyes and the soul.
2. Bhagwan Dada (1986): In this Rakesh Roshan-produced film Sridevi was cast as a con-woman who pretends to be a hooker, takes moneyed men into hotel rooms, gets them drunk and runs off with their money. The role was great fun to play and we can easily see Sridevi having the time of her life in the company of Rajinikanth and the 12-year old Hrithik Roshan.
3. Heer Ranjha (1992): The love legend was brought to the screen on several occasions, this time by Harmesh Malhotra who directed one of Sridevi’s most staggering hits Nagina. Heer Ranjha was an ambitious film featuring Sri with her future brother-in-law Anil Kapoor and a terrific music score by Laxmikant-Pyarelal. But the film didn’t work. See it now for Sridevi’s ethereal beauty and her irresistible screen presence. When she sings ‘Rab Ne Banaya Mujhe Tere Liye’ in Lata Mangeshkar’s pristine voice, time really stands still. I kid you not.
4. Chaand Ka Tukda (1994): Sridevi possessed this unique ability to rise above the most banal of scripts. She didn’t need direction. All she needed was to be told which way the camera was placed. And she was off. She did two awful films Chandramukhi and Chaand Ka Tukda with Salman Khan. I would go with the latter to display her wide range, from vivacity to tenacity as she negotiated one of the many corny scripts given to her during her career. Here she is Radha a woman out to usurp millionaire Salman of his wealth. Who cares what she was after as long as we know what we were after. Sridevi never disappointed.
5. Army (1996): Hold it right here. Sridevi playing Sanjeev Kumar’s role in Sholay hires a bunch of unruly mercenaries to take revenge for her husband’s murder. A routine revenge saga lifted to incredible heights of dramatic velocity by the one-woman army. This is one Sridevi’s most underrated performances. One of the many pleasures of watching Army is to see Shah Rukh Khan in their only film together, as her husband. Pregnant and passionate, Sridevi in Army is a force of nature. Isn’t she always!
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