It doesn’t make sense, this feeling of loss. It really doesn’t. I didn’t know the person, though God knows I tried, leafing through film glossies, and flicking away the strands of hair that found its way into its pages, at the barber shop, waiting for a haircut when it was most crowded.
But perhaps it does. Perhaps it does make sense. The sadness.
Because we do know our celebrities, or rather their projections, the characters and the books and the matches they played, because of the way they imprint themselves on our lives, our likes, on the very fabric of who we are and become.
So it is with Sridevi. So it is. Waiting in sweaty lines for “Sridebi-r peekchar”, jostling and shoving, protecting my wallet from the pickpockets and pushing forward. Of her cavorting in that blue sari in Mr India and me being overpowered by the first stirrings of feelings whose truth I would come to realize only later. Of the salt of tears at the end of Sadma. Of her clutching the picture and sensuously writhing into a snake in Nagina. Of me walking into half yearly exams, holding my clipboard and pencil box, strains of “Are you ready? Are you ready” from Nakabandi playing in my head. Of stepping into the teens, with my voice cracking, and pimples erupting, trying to scratch at the surface of the truth of love and loss in Chandni, and then slightly older, and considering myself much more mature and worldly-wise, of repeating that exercise in Lamhe, and coming out of the theater, as clueless but as immensely moved as before.
There will be time later to contemplate her legacy, how she could seamlessly transition between comedy, sensuality and action, demure one second, leather whip dominant in another, smiling and winking this moment, and throwing kicks the next, elevating often middling material to pop-culture art, how effortlessly she broke the fourth wall at a time when we didn’t even know what that was, of her being Govinda before Govinda became Govinda, dancing as much with her body as her face, of having the ability to blot out, time and time again, her male stars in a Bollywood that was and still mostly remains a vehicle for male machismo, out-Rajnikanting a movie that had Rajanikant, and out-Kamaling a movie that had Kamal Hassan.
There will be time later for all that intellectualizing. But for now, let us lean back and reflect on that which is gone.
And a bit of ourselves.