Saturday, 16 April 2011

The Times of India: Sridevi Interview

Bharati Dubey, TNN
Apr 17, 2011, 05.28am IST

She was a successful child actor, queen of South Indian cinema, Bollywood's Queen Bee, sex symbol and respected performer. It always seemed there was little that Sridevi could not do. But one day, she gave it all up to marry producer Boney Kapoor and be a stay-at-home mother to their two daughters. Fourteen years on, she'll be back -on screen and in the eye of the camera. Sridevi talks motherhood and painting Michael Jackson with Bharati Dubey . Excerpts:

Why did you finally agree to do a film?
I used to get a lot of offers but nothing really excited me. Something or the other would come up and I would turn down films. But when R Balki came to me, I was completely floored by the one-line narration of the script.

Were your daughters keen on you making a comeback?
Yes... Both my daughters (Jahnvi and Khushi) would tell me 'Mom, you have to do at least one film!' Their friends would tell them their mothers are my fans. But you can't get carried away just because your children want you to do a film. When this film came to me, both (me and my husband) loved the idea. Boney is also particular that whether the film is made by him or someone else, it has to be the right film for a comeback.

When do you start shooting?
It will take place in June during my children's vacations. They are my first priority -- I want to be there when they go to school and when they return.

You quit after working without a break for 30 years. Was it hard to walk away from it all considering you were very young when you started to act?
I started working from the age of four in all South Indian languages. Fortunately for me, my parents and family members always ensured that I led a normal life and focused only on my work. I do the same now -I focus on the upbringing of my children, and being there for the family.

But you must have missed out on a normal childhood?
Not at all! I enjoyed my childhood and I am reliving it through my daughters.

Is there any recent film at all that you wish you'd been cast in?
No. The thrill of watching my children grow and being involved in my husband's films never made me feel otherwise.

It must be hard to return after 14 years because you might have found there aren't enough roles for actors as senior as you?
It is difficult for an actor, who's achieved a particular status, to slip into any role that comes her way. But one can't get desperate too, and sign any film that comes her way. There's no point in comparing with Hollywood; it's a different ball game altogether. I do see changes happening here, albeit slow -different kinds of cinema are being attempted, and the audience is accepting it too.

Does being married affect the way an actor is perceived?
Being married does come in the way of an actor, but then you have Kajol, who has proved that it doesn't really matter. I believe people know how to value a good and talented actor. I also believe that the industry's attitude towards married (female) actors is changing, but slowly. Someone like me only hopes for the best.

Would you accept a mother's role?
Why not? If the role is challenging, I don't mind taking up the role.

When it comes to you and Madhuri Dixit, the audience is bound to expect a good dance sequence in the film...
I really don't know if there will be scope for a dance sequence. I am someone who surrenders to the director completely.

Madhuri said that both of you were always pitched as rivals but you have never spoken to each other?
Of course, we've met! Our relations have always been very cordial.

You were known for your professionalism back then. Your comments on the current crop of actors?
I am amazed by their professionalism. They are very hard-working, open to doing anything for their career and above all, very disciplined.

The perception is that you have never let people come close to you and did not open up to people...
I do have a lot of friends from within and outside the industry, but otherwise one is in the industry to showcase one's talent. I don't believe in exhibiting myself. I am an introvert, but if I become friends, I give my 100% to that relationship.

When did you start to paint?
I have been painting since childhood; it was a form of relaxation for me. I usually do oil paintings. I never have exhibited them, but give them away to my friends. I have also done a painting of Michael Jackson.

Kamal Haasan once called you his soulmate when it came to onscreen-pairings. What do you think of that?
I am flattered! He's an extremely talented actor, and I, too, have enjoyed working with him in almost 40-odd films.

The rumour is that you had work done on your face?
I have spoken enough about how I keep myself fit. As for the media's speculation, it makes me laugh!

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