Sridevi was a child artist who had great screen presence and was much sought-after by directors. Not just roles, the actor was equally comfortable shifting gender, playing a boy and girl with ease. She played an infant Lord Muruga in Kandhan Karunai , a role that she would go on to enact as a child artist with elan in other films, too. Some of her memorable films as a child artiste include Bala Bharatham, Prarthanai, Nam Nadu, Babu, Badi Panthalu, and Bhakta Kumbara.
She was affectionately called Baby Sridevi even in her teens.
Four-year-old Sridevi made her debut in the Tamil movie Tunaivan. Playing the role of young Lord Muruga, she captured hearts with her performance.
This 1969 Tamil film Nam Naadu directed by Jhambuligam was Baby Sridevi's second film. She played the nephew of MG Ramachandran and Jayalalithaa.
In 1971, she acted in the Tamil film Aathi Parasakthi as Lord Muruga. Jayalalithaa played the role of Goddess Parvati and Gemini Ganesan was Shiva.
She won the Kerala state Film Award for best child artist for her role as Sarada in the 1971 Malayalam movie Poombatta.
Sridevi also acted in Telugu movies as a child artist. Her debut in Tollywood was with the 1970 movie Naa Nanna Nirdoshi. In 1975 she acted as Little Krishna in the movie Yashoda Krishna.
Sridevi who played roles across the southern industries made her debut with Julie in Bollywood in 1975. It was a remake of the hit Malayalam movie Chattakaari.
16 Vayathinile (1977), starring Sridevi, Kamal Hassan and Rajinikanth, was a landmark movie of its generation. Sridevi played a teenage village girl, and characters of Rajinikanth, the village baddie, and Kamal, a physically-disabled man, fall for her. She finally chooses Kamal for his compassionate behaviour. It was directed by P Bharathiraja.
In Sigappu Rojakkal (1978) directed by Bharathiraja, Sridevi was once again cast alongside Kamal Haasan for the film. Sridevi, a saleswoman, marries the character of Haasan, who is a serial killer. The thriller revolves around how Sridevi finds out about her husband's secret and then fights to save her life.
(Published in an arrangement with The News Minute)