Bollywood’s biggest female superstar, Sridevi passed away suddenly yesterday. She was 54. Here’s what you may not know about her death.

The facts surrounding Sridevi’s death are still unfolding.  

Sridevi - the death of a superstar | Winning the lottery of Heart Disease | Maple and Marigold

Bollywood Star Sridevi’s death and what you may not know

Sridevi starred in close to 300 movies many of which smashed box office records again and again. She won tons of film awards and was even awarded the Padma Shri – a civilian award of great honour awarded by the Government of India. Sridevi reached the pinnacle of her field and stayed there for decades in a career that spanned 50 years. Yup – you read that right! She started working when she was 4 years old. I can’t even wrap my head around that.

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In a way Sridevi’s stardom in the North was about continuation of a time-honoured tradition—that can be taken back to Vyjayantimala and then to Hema Malini and Rekha—of female actors from the South being Heroine Number 1. Yet it was also about breaking many rules, being able to get an equal footing as the hero, at times even getting the top billing and pay packet. From Jeetendra, Bachchan, Rajesh Khanna, Rishi Kapoor to Anil Kapoor, Salman and Shah Rukh Khan and Akshay Kumar right up to Adil Hussain, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Akshaye Khanna—Sridevi straddled several generations of heroes, effortlessly at that. She acted with both the father and the son—Dharmendra and Sunny Deol. In the chase for stardom acting never took a backseat. “Range” is a word often used to describe the actor’s prowess. Drama, emotions, dance, comedy, even action. There was nothing she wasn’t proficient at. (To read the full obituary by Namrata Joshi, click the link in bio) Photos: The Hindu Archives #sridevi #obituary

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The rise of a Superstar

Sridevi smashed glass ceilings and bridged pay gaps in an industry that is widely known for its misogyny and sexism. Bollywood isn’t a pretty place but Sridevi made it work and how. Her acting was believable and funny and she made the most ridiculous characters interesting and fun. One of her most popular roles was that of a shape-shifting snake out for revenge!! And she made even that movie a superhit. 

After having kids, Sridevi took a break form film stardom to raise them away from the limelight. When she returned to acting it was to add more great quality movies to her roster.

Age Catches Up

In recent years she seemed to be working extra hard on her appearance. Turning 40 is a tough transition for most women and for a superstar in an industry that ran on how people looked, the 40’s couldn’t have been an easy time. There were rumors of plastic surgery and extreme diets and the results were obvious to anyone who cared to look. Her acting though only became stronger and more relatable. Her most recent movie is that of a mother seeking payback for what her daughter goes through. Think Bruce Willis in Death Wish but with way better hair and makeup.

Sridevi - the death of a superstar | Winning the lottery of Heart Disease | Maple and Marigold

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(Edited February 27, 2018 to add)

Sridevi drowned in a bathtub in her hotel room in Dubai on February 24, 2018. She was attending a wedding in the Middle East along with her family when she was found. 

At the time I wrote this, doctors were pointing to a cardiac arrest as the most likely reason.

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of men and women around the world and it doesn’t get enough airtime. Admittedly, Sridevi led a high-stress life so do the rest of us. In North America, each year, 1 in 3 deaths are caused by coronary heart disease. That’s more than a person a minute!

It’s not just for men 

Heart disease in women often goes undiagnosed by patients and doctors alike. Almost half of those deaths I mentioned are women. Race is an influencing factor as well. People of South Asian descent are at a higher risk of coronary heart disease. Being a desi girl I think I may have just won the wrong kind of lottery. 

The thing is though it is possible to reduce the risk of heart disease. Talking about it openly and knowing your family history help. Start with that. Then have an honest conversation with your doctor and find out about your risk factors. Look at the food and lifestyle choices you are making objectively and see if you need to make a change. I will be doing the same over the next few months and promise to share my journey with you. 

Above all go easy on yourself – your heart will thank you for it. Sridevi’s probably didn’t get a chance. 

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