Above clockwise: Sridevi with Harmesh Malhotra at the Silver Jubilee celebrations of Nagina's success, the producer/director with Sridevi on the sets of Nagina's sequel, Nigahein, the two on the sets of Banjaran and Sridevi in and as Sherni on the film's set. Sridevi always had the main lead and title-role in all the films she did with Harmesh Malhotra.
Interview with Producer/Director of Nagina, Harmesh Malhotra.
SCREEN: Tell us about Sridevi and Nagina. How did you convince her to play a snake?
Harmesh Malhotra: I had that subject with me for years but I didn’t know which actress could be approached for the role. I first thought of casting Jayaprada because I thought she was beautiful and had lovely eyes. When I narrated the subject to her she did not identify with the subject at all.
Then I met Sridevi on the sets of Subhash Ghai’s Karma and I asked her to spare some time to listen to a story. She gave me one hour and when I completed the narration she just turned to her mother and said, "Mummy I’m doing this role." We finalised everything in a month. I still remember the date when we started shooting. It was May 24 just before the monsoon arrived in Bombay.
Sridevi is one of the most professional and gifted actresses in Indian cinema. She endowed that complex role with a power and energy that remains unmatched. She gives the impression of being aloof and cold but scratch the surface and you’ll find a warm considerate human being. Like Rekha who gives the feeling that she is unapproachable and difficult. she is yet another actress who is very dedicated and sincere and extremely receptive to challenges.
From SCREEN, Nov 9, 2000
Sridevi on working with the producer and director five times: "I've worked with many directors but director Harmesh Malhotra is one of a kind. He's so sweet and understanding. If I as much as said I wasn't feeling well, he'd promptly cancel the shooting."
An archive of Sridevi with Harmesh Malhotra here.
Harmesh Malhotra passed away in 2005 and in his long career as a film producer and director, he worked with Sridevi in five films, more than any other actress; Nagina, Sherni, Nigahein, Banjaran and Heer Ranjha. Not all met with grand box-office success or critical acclaim but when it worked, it was stupendous.
Sridevi died on Feb 24, 2018.