India women pay tribute to Bollywood star Sridevi through cosplay

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Nimi Ravindran of Sandbox Collective striking a pose as Nagina Image copyright Nisha Susan
Image caption Channelling Sridevi’s famous “snake” dance from the 1986 movie Nagina

Traditional saris paired with “Charlie Chaplin” moustaches, elaborate fruit headgear and sparkly outfits were out in all their glory when 500 women from the south Indian city of Bangalore attended a recent cosplay event to honour Bollywood superstar Sridevi.

Sridevi’s death in February came as a huge shock to her millions of fans in India and around the world.

Starring in 300 films over five decades, she was one of India’s most iconic actresses. Often described as the country’s first female superstar, she is widely credited with paving the way for other women in the industry. And her influence on millions of female cinema goers was immense.

Anju from Chaalbaaz Image copyright Darshana Dave
Image caption A tribute to Anju – one of the twins Sridevi portrayed in the movie Chaalbaaz

Journalist Nisha Susan, the editor of women’s website “Ladies Finger” which organised the “Leddies night” event, said the idea was to pay tribute to Sridevi’s legacy.

“Sridevi was a comedic genius. She represented a certain type of humour – a woman who took her work very seriously, but didn’t take herself very seriously. So we wanted to do something that incorporated wit and laughter, especially given that women’s laughter seems to ‘super terrify’ men,” she said.

Ms Susan was referring to recent uproar after female opposition MP Renuka Chowdhury laughed loudly during a speech by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in parliament. Mr Modi had likened her laughter to a demon in the Hindu epic Mahabharata, which angered many female activists.

Another costume prize winner Mishta Roy dazzles in her Hawa Hawaii hat from Mr India Image copyright Mishta Roy
Image caption This fruit hat is synonymous with Sridevi’s performance in the cult classic Mr India

“We wanted to commemorate someone who meant a lot to women, not just through op-eds and obituaries but also through participating in her madness. Sridevi has a beautiful lunatic streak and we felt that this cosplay element for ladies night would allow us to participate in that lunacy,” Ms Susan said.

“I think Sridevi was one of those stars who had tremendous gravitational pull: when she cried, you felt her tears, and when she laughed – and oh, how she could laugh one high-pitched peal after another – you felt like laughing right along,” film critic Shubra Gupta told the BBC.

Posing and playing at the special Sridevi photo booth with lots of costume accessories Image copyright Darshana Dave
Image caption Posing with a mix of Sridevi accessories inspired by her many films

And many of her most iconic characters were represented at Leddies Night. Two sisters came as Anju and Manju from the movie Chaalbaaz, in which Sridevi played a double role. Another wore the electric blue outfit synonymous with her nagina “snake” dance. People even combined character outfits from different movies to come up with “fusion” Sridevi looks.

“People just came regardless of whether or not they knew our website. It was more that they wanted to be part of an all-women event and of course pay tribute to Sridevi,” Ms Susan said, adding that a dance performance to a medley of Sridevi’s songs had been a highlight of the event.

Sridev's Charlie Chaplin avatar from Mr India greeted the crowds at the registration desks Image copyright Harshini Vasu
Image caption This Charlie Chaplin moustache is also a nod to Sridevi’s character in Mr India

“Many of them who came are regular women with serious lives and serious jobs. Then they put on these clothes which allowed them to become – not other people, but themselves in another way.”

Text by Ayeshea Perera, BBC News, Delhi

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