The past year has seen the deaths of some iconic Indian women who have served as an inspiration of thousands of young girls and women across India.
And this International Women’s Day, we take an opportunity to pay homage to four such legendary Indian women who may have gone but will never be forgotten.
1. India’s first female superstar, Sridevi
The death of the first female superstar of India left the country in mourning. A diva who ruled the ‘80s,’ Sri was a complete package. She was not just an amazing actor, but an unbridled performer. If Sri came onscreen, viewers knew they wouldn’t be able to look away.
In an era dominated by male superstars where actresses were given the role of a parallel lead or had barely any screen space, Sri’s performance against her male leads in most of her films stood out. Her iconic roles were rebellious and did not conform to patriarchal values.
Whether it was the Ichchadhari Nagin in ‘Nagina’ or her role of a mentally-challenged girl who makes her caregiver (played by Kamal Hassan) fall irrevocably in love in Sadma, Sri knew how to make a mark on the hearts of the Indian viewers.
Here’s a tribute to the beautiful actress.
2. Veteran Actress, Reema Lagoo
Known for immortalising the character of Devaki Verma in the comedy-drama series ‘Tu Tu Main Main’ alongside Supriya Pilgaonkar, this iconic actress’ sudden death due to cardiac arrest left a gaping hole in the hearts of all her admirers.
Born on 21 June 1958 as Nayan Bhadbhade, her mother, Mandakini Bhadbhade was a Marathi stage actress. She started her acting career professionally after completing her secondary education. Though she started her acting career on Marathi stage, she shot to fame through her roles in television serials, Hindi and Marathi films.
She became the face of the quintessential ‘Bhartiya Ma’ through her portrayal in iconic Hindi films like ‘Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak’, ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’, ‘Saajan’, ‘Rangeela’, ‘Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!’, ‘Dilwale’, ‘Rangeela’, ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’, ‘Kal Ho Naa Ho’ etc.
Her role in the gangster film ‘Vaastav: The Reality’ as Sanjay Dutt’s mother won her a fourth Filmfare Award for the best-supporting actress. The unexpected climax of the film shook the Indian audience and manifested her acting prowess.
‘Lagoo’ became a household name due to her television series like ‘Khandaan’, her beyond amazing chemistry with Supriya Pilgaonkar in the comic saas-bahu drama ‘Tu Tu Main Main’ and her role as Kokila Kulkarni in comedy drama ‘Shriman Shrimati’.
3. The Queen of Thumri, Girija Devi
The legendary Indian classical singer of the Seniya and Banaras gharanas was known as the Queen of Thumri. Throughout her musical career, she performed classical and light classical music and helped elevate the profile of thumri.
Born in the holy city of Varanasi on 8 May 1929 to a zamindar, she was exposed to music from a young age. Her father, Ramdeo Rai played the harmonium and taught music. He encouraged Devi to learn singing khyal and tappa from vocalist and sarangi player Sarju Prasad Misra right from the age of five.
Her first public debut in 1949 on All India Radio Allahabad was fiercely opposed by her own mother and grandmother, who believed that no upper-class woman should perform publicly.
But that did not deter Devi from continuing with music. Her first public concert in Bihar in 1951 and toured and continued to perform until 2009.
She is not only known for performing the Purabi Ang Thumri style typical of the tradition in the Banaras Gharana, but also semi-classical genres Kajri, Chaiti, and Holi. The iconic vocalist carved her name in gold on the wall of fame in Indian classical music.
4. The first woman filmmaker from Odia, Parbati Ghose
She was a well known Odia cinema actress, director and producer who passed at the age of 85 last year. She is also known as the first woman filmmaker from Odia.
Born in Cuttack district in 1933, she first started working as a child artiste in All India Radio and later transitioned to the silver screen. Starting as a child actor in Shri Jagannath (1949), she got her major break in 1953 in ‘Amari Gaan Jhua’ (Our Village Girl).
Her 1956 Odia hit ‘Bhai Bhai’ gave her wide recognition as one of Odia’s film industry’s leading ladies. After enjoying her success as an actor, she moved to film direction and directed 1973, film Sansara with her husband. As early as the 1980s, she was already the recipient of three national awards.
Her contribution to the upliftment of Odia cinema is summarised in the words of the state CM Naveen Patnaik, “She was an actor, director and producer at the same time. In the early days of Odia cinema, she single-handedly uplifted Odia cinema to a new level. She was really a symbol of woman empowerment when ideas like empowerment were unheard of. Her departure is a great loss to our industry and the world of the silver screen. She will always be remembered for her contribution to Odia cinema.”