She entered the film industry at the tender age of 13, as a child artiste and in over 40 years in the industry she would traverse the entire gamut of roles - child, heroine, wife, lover, mother - and then some. In both the early and later part of her career she managed to hold her own as a character actor, even dabbling behind the scenes as a playback singer. It’s been 11 years since she left us. Today we remember some of the best moments in her long and fruitful association with Malayalam cinema.
Sarada (Kattathe Kilikoodu): She plays the quiet, domesticated and lovable wife, Sharada. Kattathe Kilikoodu is really her story—her silent, resilient battle to hold the family together amidst all odds. Srividya is brilliantly understated—be it the scene where she witnesses her husband’s growing affection for his pretty student; or when torn between grief and helplessness, she must put up a brave face for her children; or in just venting her anger at her husband by shouting at the children. Just one more instance to show why Srividya remains one of the most undervalued actresses in Indian cinema.
Pathma (KandukondainKandukondain): Despite having three adult daughters, Pathma still faces the wrath of her bedridden father who hasn’t forgiven her for eloping with the man she loved. She takes most of it without complaining, even then he cruelly disinherits her and her children from his property. Pathma picks up the pieces and tries to slowly rebuild her life. Srividya is especially superb in that scene where she rants about her fate to her silent father who in turns spits Horlicks at her.
Annie (Irakal): KG George’s most real, audacious and thrilling female protagonist. Married to a man who cannot satisfy her needs in any way, Annyamma makes regular trips to her home to sleep with the rubber tapper. She is the antithesis of the ideal cinematic mother and wife—a nymphomaniac, she is as salacious as her father and brothers. Srividya is a revelation, and it goes without saying that George is the only filmmaker who could make use of her enormous talent. The stellar scene, so subtly done, would be the one where she narrates her antics to her sister-in-law, mocking her husband’s prudishness and her own wanton need to free herself from marital bondage.
Alice (AdaminteVariyellu): The wife of a scheming, manipulative, and insensitive businessman Mamachan and the mother of two teenagers, she lives in the lap of luxury; yet her life is a living hell. Her husband has an affair with the maid of the house. He also forces her into sexual relationships with his clients. Alice finds solace in the arms of a young architect. Years of neglect and exploitation at her husband’s hands turn her into a bitter woman. Just one scene is enough to bear testimony to her brilliance—Mamachan warns Alice to be more cautious about her affair. “We have two grown children,” he tells her. And she snarls at him, “Are you sure these are your children? Your pimped me to so many men. Don’t you dare say anything. Just get lost!”.
Rohini (Edavazhiyile Poocha Minda Poocha): She plays the bored, unloved and neglected wife of a businessman who dares to get into a licentious affair with her former lover. Her marriage falls apart and she is left to live a life of loneliness and misery in the latter part of the movie. Srividya brings an alluring sensuality to her character and blends it with the guilt of betraying her husband.
KS Vasundara Devi (EnteSooryaputhrikku): It’s a role that suits her to the T—a classical singer, appearing resplendent in silk saris. The scenes where she conducts kacheris seem like she has been doing it all her life. It’s a role that requires the actor to be subtle, emotional, calm, helpless, angry and Srividya brings all that in the right measure. If you want to know how to convey dignity in adversity, this is it.
Comments material that is unlawful, obscene, defamatory, threatening, harassing, abusive, slanderous, racially, ethically or sexually hateful or offensive, or embarrassing to any other person or entity are prohibited.
Fullpicture is an exclusive, comprehensive, online English magazine on Malayalam cinema, put together by a team of experienced journalists who share a passion for everything about Malayalam cinema. The idea is to put out well-written and well-researched features, exclusive interviews,...