SRIDEVI – AS LUMINISCENT AS CHANDNI
During 1985 to 1989, for five years I was a click-happy photo journalist.
This picture of Sridevi, the No. 1 heroine of the 80s, was shot in 1988 at a suburban studio during the shooting of Yash Chopra’s Chandni. Sridevi looking resplendent in a chiffon sari was waiting for Yash Chopra to set the lights when I, taking advantage of the break, quickly shot a series of her pictures.
I was first introduced to Sridevi by publicist Gopal Pandey at the silver jubilee function of Farz Aur Kanoon in the year 1982 in Chennai. He said, “This is Sridevi, a South star. She will soon be seen in Hindi films.”
We said our hellos and went our own way. When I became the Editor of MOVIE six years later, I wanted to begin with a bang and decided to bring the reigning queen Sridevi and overnight star, Aamir (post QSQT) together. When her secretary, Hari Singh re-introduced us, she told me she wanted to see my past work as a writer. I found that strange – it was like an audition for me – but I complied. Within days we shot the cover. During the cover shoot, Aamir whispered to me, “She is looking much taller than me.” She overheard, and the next thing I witnessed was Sridevi quietly flinging away her heeled shoes.
Once when a female colleague, Munmun was interviewing her in my presence, midway, she asked me to step aside and said, “She is asking me, ‘What do you think about the changing face of Mumbai?’ How can a city have a face?”
She didn’t indulge in small talk – she spoke with me in her baby voice only for interviews. I did many covers (a golden turbaned solo shot by Rakesh Shrestha is one she liked a lot) and interviews with her during my 11 years stint (1988-1999) as the Editor of Movie magazine. Quote from a 1994 interview with me that I had titled Giving The Devi(l) Her Due ---
Dinesh Raheja: “I feel a little bit of Sadma continues to linger in all our other characters...” Sridevi: “Oh no, don't tell me (laughs).”
When I flew to Hyderabad to release my book The Hundred Luminaries Of Hindi cinema (co-authored by Jitendra Kothari) at the Walden book shop, it was agreed that Anil Kapoor would do the honours. But Sridevi, who was shooting for Judaai with him, despite a last minute invite from me, graciously attended the book release event and cut the cake, imaginatively shaped like the book, jointly with Anil and happily autographed copies for the fans.