Friday, 21 January 2011

Sridevi's Six Movie Moments

Sridevi picks her six favourite movie moments. She spoke to former Filmfare editor Khalid Mohammed.

Sridevi: I'm especially fond of the scene where I start clapping loudly and the birds flutter away on hearing the sound. It's a brief but very charming moment. I played the mentally-retarded girl without ever meeting one. Even today people ask me whether I studied the behaviour and mannerisms of the mentally-handicapped. The credit for that lovely, little scene... in fact the credit for my entire performance goes to director Ballu Mahendra. I just carried out his instructions. But I prefer the Tamil version - Moondram Pirai. The Hindi remake may have been nearly the same but I was new to the Hindi language then and though I did the dubbing myself, I could have been better. Moreover, when you've done a film once, to go through it all over again becomes repetitive and the performance does lose its original freshness.

On hearing the been, my body responds to the insistent rhythm of the music. I had to lose myself to the call of the been, the scene showed me swaying as if in a trance. And as the music rises to a crescendo, my movements became more frantic. Although, it was a dance piece, it was a crucial part of the story. I had to convey the feeling that I was helpless, that I was imprisoned by the strains of the music. To do this without speaking a single line of dialogue was a challenge. So, I just went along with the music and let my body do the talking.

Mr India
The Charlie chaplin scene's my all-time favourite. I had seen so many of his classics like The Kid, Gold Rush and The Great Dictator on video and of course, like every kid and adult in this world, I'm Chaplin's admirer. To start with, the Chaplin act was just supposed to be two or three shots but when the director, Shekhar Kapur, saw me in costume, he felt that it could be extended to five or six shots. As the shooting started, everyone lost count of the number of shots and soon we had an entire sequence. i enjoyed being in the Chaplin moustache, baggy trousers and bower hat; the kids acting with me had a whale of a time, too. And, I think, so did the audience.

Hmm, which scene do I pick? Okay, there's the moment when the girl wants to buy a bottle of beer in a bar and she doesn't have any money. Then Sunny enters and they start chatting and she talks him into buying her several bottles. It wasn't a very dramatic scene, on the contrary it was quite ordinary. The director (Pankuj Parashar) told us to play with it, extend the conversation any way we liked. So Sunny and I started improvising. We went on laughing, saying crazy things, and somehow it all worked. There's a sweet and naughty mood to that scene. Sometimes, your best moments in a film come about quite accidentally.

I think my performance in Lamhe was much better than my performance in Chandni. I know Chandni was a successful film and Lamhe wasn't a box-office hit but that's how it is in show-business. I have two favourite moments in Lamhe actually - the time I'm emotionally wounded and walk out of the house in England and the other is the time when I'm told by Anil Kapoor that he was in love with my mother. Choosing between the double role of the mother and the daughter, I liked to play the younger lovelorn girl. I felt more comfortable with this character, more close to her. But now don't ask me if, like the girl, I have ever been attracted to an older man. Because the answer would be, "No, never!".

Khuda Gawah
The climax, the moment where I touch Amitji's beard. That little touch was lovely. Before that I had to give a deadpan look, my face resting on a stone, even as a lot of fighting was going on around me. I just brought about a dead look in my eyes, when the camera was on I'd start thinking - when will they finish climax! We had been shooting it for more than 10 days. I was playing a double role again but in this case I preferred the part of the senior character. It was the first time that I was portraying an old woman with grey hair. And the role had a wide range - from the gritty woman who is adept at horse-riding and a caring wife to a mother who longs for her beloved and the happiness snatched away from her.

See entire interview here.

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