To do justice to Sridevi’s career requires a book. Or four. What is a logical argument against the talent, charm, presence and power of an actress who can boast of full separate careers in four different languages? An actor – gender no bar – today would happily settle for Sridevi’s career in a single language from that list. In Telugu, there is Karthika Deepam (the original Maang Bharo Sajana), Jagadeka Veerudu Athiloka Sundari, where Chiranjeevi watches as limelight on him gets weaker and weaker while the one on Sridevi grows in brightness, and Kshana Kshanam, a cultural aesthetic that would inform Ram Gopal Varma’s career to come. In Malayalam, Sridevi had another laundry list of films with Kamal Haasan — a pair that was probably signed on before thinking of a script — and films with I V Sasi and Bharathan. In Tamil and Hindi, where does one even start?

One of the memorable interviews of Sridevi

One could start by saying that Sridevi herself was a cultural aesthetic. Whole eras and films stand defined by her, and this in an age where mainstream cinema in Hindi wasn’t kind to women. Her career is so incredibly vast that only a few people can boast of knowing and understanding the full gamut of it. As I write this, social media is fighting about one language fans ignoring Sridevi’s films from another language. Someone passionate about Tamil cinema might not have watched her Hindi career. Someone mad about Hindi cinema might not be aware of her best work in Tamil.

Even the Tamil cinema fan wouldn’t have given her Telugu career a go. For fans, there are several Sridevis. There is Sridevi from Moondram Pirai and 16 Vayathinile in Tamil Nadu. For another person from Tamil Nadu, there is Sridevi from Johnny, Priya and Guru. Choose between Vazhve Maayam and Varumayin Niram Sivappu. Or Sigappu Rojakkal and Meendum Kokila. Go up north and the choices get tougher. Mr India or Chaalbaaz? Lamhe or Chandni? Even Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja has fans. For others, there is always Kshana Kshanam. Epic proportions of Sridevi’s career are only matched by the Indian epics. If there was a book on her, it should be titled 300 Sridevis and people would fight to ban it because it doesn’t focus on their favourite Sridevi enough.