Sridevi Kapoor Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Bollywood has often got a rap for being an alleged playground for high-functioning alcoholics and substance-abusers. Speak to any industry insider, they would call it the by-product of being rich and famous. Now the people inhabiting this isolated, often-insular but revered planet called Bollywood don’t cut that stereotypical haggard figure, but instead they lead eventful high-profile lives with an endless stream of projects and parties. On the surface they exude a flawless image, but what lies beneath all that perfection could be murky.

Sridevi’s death in Dubai, caused by accidental drowning with traces of alcohol in her body, pulls this oft-neglected issue back into focus.

Ageless, wrinkle-free icon

While everyone admired the ageless, wrinkle-free icon from a distance, her death prods you to question the price that a superstar has to pay to maintain that flawless persona. While the 54-year-old actress was spectacular on the big screen, the ignominious circumstances in which she departed makes you wonder about the pressures of living under the spotlight. She drowned in her hotel bathtub by accident under the influence of alcohol.

But let’s rewind a bit.

A few days before, social media was alight with pictures of her at her relative’s wedding in Ras Al Khaimah dripping in designer jewels and gilded skirts. Every move and each twirl of hers was documented and scrutinised to the last thread. Her impossibly taut body and contoured, sculpted face made for a good magazine-worthy cover, but how did everyone miss the cracks behind that façade of a woman having it all?

Mother of two

Sridevi, the mother of two young teenagers, was a notoriously private figure who never ever revealed her vulnerabilities in public.

There were rumblings of the icon being allegedly hooked on to liquid diets, pills and scalpels to smooth wrinkles, but they just remain speculations and may never be verified.

A hypocritical haven

Unlike Hollywood where it isn’t uncommon to have legendary actors speak about their battles with alcohol or substance abuse or their stints in rehabs, Bollywood has often marched to a different beat. Showing any sign of vulnerability could be death-knell for actors who maintain perfect personas. Sridevi was no different. She had cultivated this wholesome image around her of a woman who could balance both films and family with a studied ease, and showing any sign of weakness wasn’t the done thing. Someone this morning remarked that Bollywood is a hypocritical haven where everything happens, but nothing is out in the open.

As the world grapples with the loss of the beloved Bollywood actress, perhaps it’s time for us to re-consider what constitutes perfection among our matinee idols. Life is too fleeting to be caught up in pursuit of perfection.