The news of Sridevi’s untimely death has still not sunk in. The legendary actress passed way in February 2018 in Dubai. While the world went numb in silence post that, today on her birthday anniversary, we take a moment and revisit her last interview with Filmfare, which was published in June 2017.
Blue became the colour of passion as her saree swayed against the breeze, while she sang of untold passion to an invisible lover. Kate nahin katte yeh din yeh raat in Mr India celebrated unabashed sensuality. And not for once did she let the innocence slip. It was her effortless straddling of two generations in Chopra’s Lamhe yet again, that went on to make the rebel romance hold the pride of place in Chopra’s oeuvre. Truly, Sridevi was an industry unto herself. A star whose luminescence was her own – not borrowed from her male counterparts.
For daughters, Jhanvi and Khushi, she was the satellite that moves around them – scrutinising their low calorie menu, picking the freshest fish to pamper their taste buds, overseeing their glossy wardrobe… apart from, of course, guarding their sweet secrets. Her stardom may be for the world. But her world was her family…
What was it about Mom that challenged you as an actor?
The emotional journey of the character, for me, was extreme. Also, working with such talented actors like Akshaye Khanna and Nawazuddin Siddiqui kept me on my toes.
Did being a mother help you understand the complexity of the emotions and express it through your character?
As a mother it’s unnerving to imagine myself in my character’s situation. So, the whole experience was emotionally draining. But as an actor it was undoubtedly a satisfying experience. Of course, being a mother helped me understand the character’s emotions better.
The film seems to be dark in parts. Were you affected by the character you play?
It’s a misconception that it’s a dark movie. We have aimed to make it an emotional family drama that’s also thrilling. Nevertheless, the subject matter is relevant in today’s time.
Parts of Mom were shot in Georgia. What kept you going through the tough conditions?
The weather really wasn’t on our side because typically during shooting we wait for the clouds to pass. But Ravi (Udyawar, director) wanted a gloomy setting and clouds for a few sequences. So we’d spend hours waiting for the sun to go. It was tough shooting in such a remote place, in such harsh weather conditions. But every time we looked at the monitor, it motivated us to keep going.
The toughest part of the shooting was the food. The staple diet there is meat, potatoes, mushrooms and cheese. And since we were staying at a lodge in a remote village, we didn’t get much variety. I was a vegetarian during this time. So I basically survived on mushrooms for 15 days. But honestly, because my children, Jhanvi and Khushi accompanied me and stayed there throughout, none of the hardships felt that hard.
What has been the contribution of your husband Boney Kapoor to Mom?
He’s the most passionate and involved producer I’ve ever come across. Without him Mom wouldn’t have been possible. He deserves the credit for everything – right from motivating and taking care of each and every cast and crew member, to fulfilling the vision for Mom.
Your look in the film is edgy yet mesmerising…
Manish Malhotra has styled my look in the film. He’s known for the glamour he lends to Bollywood. But he’s just as talented in creating authentic looks in keeping with the character. He puts thought in every detail. The colour, the fabric that I wear in every scene is in keeping with the mood of my character. It’s symbolic yet effortless.
At the trailer launch of Mom, Salman Khan introduced you as a star who’s bigger than the Khans. Did you feel overwhelmed?
It was humbling to hear such a huge compliment. It’s definitely overwhelming. I can’t thank him enough for such a tribute.
Salman and you share a passion for painting. Do you have any of his paintings or have you gifted him any?
I have a few of his paintings, which he gifted me. We both made one painting together, which I think he has. He’s so creative and talented.
As a mom are you protective, possessive, hands-on…?
I’m protective about my girls and hands-on too. I don’t know how not to be. But I’m not possessive.
What is the equation that you share with Jhanvi and Khushi individually?
I’m closer to Janu and Khushi is closer to Boneyji. But we’re honest with each other and extremely close. Khushi is far more independent than Jhanvi. Till today, every morning when Jhanvi wakes up, the first thing she says is ‘Mama chahiye!’ But Khushi will say ‘Koko chahiye!’ Koko is her pet. Khushi and Boneyji gang up against Janu and me all the time.
Jhanvi is stepping into films. What would be your advice to her?
Give everything your best and work your hardest. No pain, no gain. I always tell her perform from your heart, not just your mind. It’s important to be a good and honest human being to be a good actor. Also humility and gratitude are important to reach anywhere in life.
What are Khushi’s areas of interest?
I’m still waiting for her to tell me that she wants to act. I can sense that ‘shock’ is going to come soon!
You’ve performed vibrant characters on screen. But off it you seem to be an introvert…
Yes I’ve always believed in letting my work speak for me. It really isn’t me to be much of a talker. Of course, when I’m with people who are close to me, I’m more at ease. I remember at the beginning of our relationship Boneyji used to beg me to talk more. And now it’s the opposite.
Five things we don’t know about you…
Those close to me tell me that I’m witty. I have a sweet tooth. I’m obsessed with shopping. I’m extremely religious and sensitive.
Boneyji once said that you enjoy doing simple things like going to the market to buy fish for the family…To be honest, I don’t enjoy going to the market to buy fish or anything else. It’s just out of concern. When they’re having seafood, I like to make sure that it’s fresh. Especially, Boneyji, is finicky about food. But I enjoy feeding my children, oiling their hair, picking out what they should wear… It gives me so much of happiness doing these things for them.
Being a Leo does it make you a fiercely loyal wife?
Yes, I’m fiercely loyal to Boneyji. But I don’t think of any of this is a big deal. If I don’t do things for my family who else will?
When your husband says he’s still ‘deeply in love with you’, does it make you feel special?
Yes, of course, it makes me feel special. And I am deeply in love with him too. With every passing day, my love for him grows. In fact, calling it ‘love’ isn’t enough anymore.
What has remained unchanged about him?
His love for me. And of course, he’s an honest person, he’s emotional, he can always make me laugh. He’s always there for me. We’re always there for each other.
Any regrets in life?
I wish we had not taken my mother to New York for her treatment (the late Rajeswari Ayyappan underwent surgery in the wrong side of her brain there).
Years back you had promised yourself that you’d never put on weight. How difficult was it to maintain that?
It’s become my lifestyle now. Being health conscious is like second nature to me. My body doesn’t respond well when I skip a work out, or when I have a late night, or when I binge. I don’t feel good doing any of that. I take pride in taking care of myself.
If you were growing up in 80s, there was no way you could be oblivious to her magic on screen. She singed the celluloid with her mere presence. Those impish eyes, those facial expressions, those dances are all memories now. She reigned the silver screen like no one else. With a string on successes, she was the first female superstar of Bollywood. Films were made with her in mind. A talent so terrific that no one could match up to her in ages.
We at Filmfare remember the Icon by listing her best Hindi films to date.