Sridevi is nothing less than a Goddess. Whatever she touched in her heydays turned into gold, if not a gold mine. Producers and directors made bee-lines, and every actor wanted to work with her. The actress, who ruled the industry for almost a decade from the 1980s to the late 1990s, took a sabbatical from cinema following her marriage to producer Boney Kapoor. Today, she is a proud mother of two beautiful daughters. After spending almost two decades away form the studio lights and vanity vans, 'Ms Hawa Hawai' is back with a bang!
We catch Sridevi in her plush Lokhandwala bungalow, over a cup of filer 'kaafi' and some homemade snacks. In a free-wheeling chat, she speaks about her film English Vinglish, unchallenged stardom, trials, inhibitions about daughters joining the industry, and her equation with brother-in-law Anil Kapoor. Read on...
Hiten J Trivedi: After the thumping success of Judaai in 1997, you took a break that lasted 15 years. What took you so long to return to the studios?
Sridevi: (Smiles) Nothing was planned, I would ahve done this movie (English Vinglish) at any given point of time, if I was offered this film 10 years ago, I would've done it. Gauri Shinde's subject was so intriguing. I fell in love with the idea instantly. I grabbed it with both my hands, I'm in love with the character. I also felt that everyone can relate with Shashi (her character in the film). She is simple, strong yet extremely sensitive and believable woman. At one point, the industry assumed that I had retired for good. And I had never planned to come back to films. And even if I did, I didn't know if I could put a date to my re-entry.
Considering you're working with Balki's wife didn't he offer you any of his other films like Paa or Cheeni Kum?
Sridevi: No, he didn't.
Boney has successfully produced a lot of films after Judaai. Why didn't you work in any of his recent productions?
Sridevi: You won't believe it but, whenever I attended a music session, for one of his films or even watched rushes, the actor in me would get restless to perform a secne or a song. And I would even tell him that I wanted to do that song but he wouldn't take me seriously. Maybe because he knew that the mood of the song wouldn't suit me or probably, my personality didn't work for a song. I can't challenge his vision as a filmmaker. But I enjoyed hanging around on the sets; it made me nostalgic.
The promos of the film have made a section of the audience believe that your character in English Vinglish is similar to your character in Judaai, especially in terms of looks.
Honestly, it humbles me to know that even 15 years after Judaai, people still remember my character so vividly. The look might be a little similar because in both these films, I play a middle-class housewife, and that's how she is bound to look - simple and homely. Apart from that, I can promise that there is no similarity between my characters. in fact, they are diametrically different. Kaajal (in Judaai) is a selfish, money-minded woman, and Shashi (in English Vinglish) is a true blue Bharatiya nari with a lot of self-respect.
You shared screen with Amitabh Bachan in English Vinglish many years after Khuda Gawah. He said that he agreed to the cameo for you. I'm sure you loved the experience...
It was nice of him to say that. When I was told that he would be doing a cameo in the film, I was elated, and I was looking forward to working with him again. We teamed up for a few films even before Khuda Gawah. His passion for work, commitment, dedication and professionalism hasn't changed. Age is yet to catch on with his working style and energy.
Is it true that Madhuri Dixit and you never got along? A segment of the media reported that you were upset with her because she took over your position after your marriage and subsequent sabbatical from films?
I was never upset with Madhuri. This is a figment of imagination that a few writers then had. In fact, I didn't have any problem with anyone. Why should I? Everyone was doing well for themselves, and we co-existed happily.
A few years ago, you had stated in one of your interviews that no one could ever replace you. Do you still stand by that statement?
Did I really say that? I can assure you that I mustn't have said it because I don't say such things. It's not me! But yes, I would love to hear others saying that about me! I don't think anyone can replace anyone because every actor has his or her own style.
Among the current crop, which actress do you feel is the next potential Sridevi?
Ask a filmmaker or the audience that question. All the girls have their own charm, it's tough to pick the better one, from Rani Mukherji and Kareena Kapoor or Vidya Balan and Priyanka Chopra, or Katrina Kaif and Sonam Kapoor. I adore Sonam as an actress though.
Between Jhanvi and Khushi, who is more like you?
Jhanvi! Khushi is more like her father. Jhanvi dresses like me; her eating habits are completely like me. We go for swimming and even play tennis together. She is a health conscious like me. Khushi is a Punjabi at heart like her father. Her eating habits are also like a true blue Punjabi. Food has to be dunked in butter and ghee, has to be spicy! I am sure she will kill me when she reads this (laughs).
If I had to answer this as a mother, I would say I want my daughters to get married once they are old enough for it. That's my only concern. Boneyji [husband Boney Kapoor] often tells me that it's not fair, and I should let them do what they like to do. I don't look down upon acting as a profession because it has made me who I am today. Who doesn't want to become an actor or an actress today? If Jhanvi or Khushi or both of them decided to become actresses, I will help them, guide them and make sure they get a head-start. Har koi actor nahi ban sakta (not everybody can became an actor). It's a demanding profession. Apne bacche sab ko pyaare hote hain (everyone loves their own children) but one should be practical while evaluating their children's potential... If my daughters are talented enough, and I can see potential heroines in them, then I can't say much.
Do you intended to be super selective about the films you work in now?
Definitely! There is no tearing hurry to work in a slew of films. Anyway, I can't do too many films now. I'd do a few films, but only with people I am comfortable working with, and films that would give me creative satisfaction as an actor.
Lastly, what is the status of the sequel to Mr. India? Will the audience get to see Miss Hawa Hawaii's magic once again?
This is one thing I can confirm without even asking Boneyji - Mr India 2 is definitely happening, it is at the scripting stage, but nothing has been finalised as far as the star cast is concerned. But the film will happen for sure. Fingers crossed!
Interview by Hiten J Trivedi
October 2012, Stardust
Makeup: Chetan Nayak
Hair: Kanta Motwane of Kromakay
Styling: Tanya Ghavri
|Outfit: Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Jewellery: Aquamarie|
|Outfit: Anamika Khanna, Jewellery: Aquamarine|
Hmm. No offense to Piggy Chops but they should have switched the pic sizes.