Sridevi: I'd have been completely lost without Boney Kapoor
Hard as it may seem to believe, Bollywood’s resident diva Sridevi celebrated her 50th birthday on August 13.
In conversation with Subhash K Jha, the veteran actress talks films, family and future plans. Read on.
How did you bring in your birthday?
With my family -- my husband and children. My sister Latha was visiting from Chennai. It was a nice, cosy family get-together and that’s the way I like it. Since it was a Tuesday, I visited the Siddhivinayak temple.
You turned 50 this year. How do you look back at your life as an actor, wife and mother?
I am always grateful for what I’ve got.
God has been kind to me. I've got my fans' support for all these years. I don’t want to let them down at this point in my life. I have to be extra sure that I don’t do a wrong film.
The past year has been very special -- I got to do English Vinglish that turned out to be much bigger than I had expected. It had such a lasting impact that even my daughter’s friends apologised to their mothers after seeing the film for being insensitive. It has changed lives.
Photographs: Jag Gundu/Getty Images
'It took me 15 years to do a film like English Vinglish'
What does the success of English Vinglish mean to you?
I am sure my children will show it to their children and proudly tell them that this is what their mother did. English Vinglish has given me so much respect. I am really thankful to director Gauri Shinde and her husband R Balki. They blindly believed in me. Now I wonder what I’ll do next.
You surely can’t do anything run-of-the-mill...
There is no need for me to do anything I don’t think is right. It took me 15 years to do a film like English Vinglish.
Hope it doesn't take another 15 years to do your next film.
No no (laughs). But I have to be careful. I’ve been hearing a lot of scripts but nothing seems just right the way I felt when I was offered English Vinglish.
Which are your other favourite films from the ones you’ve done?
Sadma, Chandni, Chalbaaz, Judaai... Mr India was a turning point. Before that, Hindi moviegoers saw me just as a glamour girl. After Mr India, they felt I could act. Then there was Lamhe. I miss Yash Chopra.
Image: Sridevi in English Vinglish
'I'm usually very uncomfortable with performing at award shows'
Do you think you could have worked with more directors like Yash Chopra and Shekhar Kapur, and that you stood out in some very bad films?
That’s a huge compliment.
No, I was very happy with the work and the directors I got to work with. But yes, the quest for challenging roles never ends.
I’d love to work with Shekhar Kapur again. He brought out the best in me in Mr India. I’d also like to work with Ashutosh Gowariker, Farhan Akhtar, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Raj Kumar Santoshi and Gauri Shinde.
We saw you dancing with Prabhu Deva at the IIFA awards. How did the performance come about?
I'm usually very uncomfortable with performing at award shows.
It was my daughters who prompted me to go on stage. They insisted and I thought, 'what’s the big deal, let’s do it.'
It was a big moment for me because my kids saw me dance on stage for the first time. They were too small the last time I performed on stage.
Image: Sridevi in Mr India
'I don't want my children to miss out on anything in life'
Your elder daughter Jahnvi has grown into a pretty young lady. Is she ready to take up acting?
I am tired of being asked this. And to have her hear this repeatedly would make her think, ‘Maybe I have to become an actress.’(laughs).
The truth is, Boney (Kapoor, husband) and I haven’t even thought of a career for her.
People see her accompanying me to the health club and they presume it’s because she’s getting ready for a career in films. We can’t do anything about what people say or think.
The fact is, she is as health-conscious as I am. In fact, a lady told her at the gym, ‘Poor thing, your Mama is making you slog.’ We were both in splits.
I'd like to take this opportunity to inform everybody concerned about Jahnvi's visits to the health club -- everyone doesn't stay fit just to face the camera.
So no film career for Jhanvi yet?
I’ve never asked her what she wants to do in life.
At the moment I want her to focus on her studies and enjoy life. It is not a joke to become an actor. It requires a great deal of hard work and patience.
I missed out on a normal childhood because I started acting when I was a kid.
I don't want my children to miss out on anything in life.
Nowadays a career is chalked out for you while you're still in college. If my daughters want to act, they can attend acting school. I learnt everything on the job. I learnt everything after I started acting.
Image: Sridevi with daughter Jahnvi
Photographs: Abhijit Mhamunkar
'I am grateful for the sense of security Boney (Kapoor) has provided me'
Were you a fast learner?
No one else from my family had ever acted. I don’t know how I did it.
All I know is, it has to come from the heart. I never planned my scenes. I’ve done whatever came naturally to me.
Is Boney Kapoor a devoted spouse?
I am very lucky to have him in my life. I don’t know what I’d have done without him. I’d be completely lost.
He understands me, protects me and looks after me. What else does any wife want? I am grateful for the sense of security he has provided me.
Image: Sridevi with husband Boney Kapoor and daughters Jahnvi and Khushi
Photographs: Abhijit Mhamunkar