'I don't know of anyone who could transform so much once she had make-up on.'
'And I don't mean just for the camera.'
'She could dress up for a wedding and she'd look like a different person.'
'And now to see her lying there, still and unmoving in that casket, it was heartbreaking', Satish Kaushik tells Subhash K Jha.
IMAGE: 'Me and Mine! @BoneyKapoor,' wrote Sridevi. Photograph: Kind courtesy Sridevi/Twitter
"When I heard of Ma'am's (Sridevi) death I couldn't believe it," says Satish Kaushik, who has worked with the actress, both as an actor and a director.
Sridevi's husband Boney Kapoor and Satish go back a long way. Satish acted as Calendar on Boney's Mr India, then served as an assistant on Shekhar Kapoor's Joshilaay which Boney produced.
Boney and Satish have been friends for more than 30 years.
"I called him up. He wept inconsolably. The more we spoke, the more he wept. He just couldn't stop crying. I hung up."
"I've know Ma'am from before she became a superstar in Hindi cinema... Warm, loving, vivacious and a complete actor. I don't know of anyone who could transform so much once she had make-up on. And I don't mean just for the camera."
"She could dress up for a wedding and she'd look like a different person," remembers Satish,
"And now to see her lying there, still and unmoving in that casket, it was heartbreaking."
IMAGE: Sridevi and Sunny Deol in Joshilaay.
"Javed Akhtarsaab recommended her very strongly. She was signed for the female lead of Joshilaay along with Anil Kapoor, Sunny Deol and Meenakshi Seshadri. Sridevi played a village belle, a circus owner's daughter, and her comic timing was impeccable," he recalls.
He worked closely with her on Mr India where Satish also assisted Shekhar apart from playing Calendar.
"Who but Sridevi could do the Charlie Chaplin act or the Hawa Hawaai song?" he asks.
"I saw how quickly she grasped the requirements of these scenes. I don't know of anyone as natural born an actor as Sridevi. She was a complete actress."
IMAGE: '22 years of Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja! Sharing a picture from the 1st day of shooting. @BoneyKapoor,' Sridevi writes, sharing this picture. Photograph: Kind courtesy Sridevi/Twitter
"By the time I directed her in Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja she was at the peak of her power. We spent many many months working together and it was an experience I will never forget," he says.
Image: Sridevi in the Chai Mein Chini song from Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja.
"During the song Chai Mein Chini Sridevi had to keep her Chinese make-up on for hours. It was very painful since her eyes had been narrowed and there were pins all over her head, but she kept the make-up on without any complaint," he remembers.
"In the climax song Dushman Dil Ka Jo Hai Mera, Sridevi had to come speedily down a flight of steep stairs singing and dancing. It is human instinct to look down when negotiating steps. She swam down those stairs without a single glance at the steps."
"When she was in front of the camera she forgot who she was or that she could hurt herself while doing a shot. Perfection was her only pursuit on camera."
IMAGE: Sridevi with her daughters Khushi and Janhvi at Mom's trailer launch. Photograph: Pradeep Bandekar
"In her later years, she chose the real life role of a mother to Janhvi and Khushi," says Satish.
"That was her favourite role and the one that she played oblivious to the fact that there was no camera."
"I've seen what a good mother she was to the two girls. And now to see Janhvi and Khushi looking so lost without her..."
When Satish's daughter Vanshika was born after many years without children, Sridevi visited him with a gift.
"She was so warm, so sincere, so real. She told me. 'I am so happy for you.' And I could see the happiness in her eyes. She never faked an emotion. That sincerity is what made her who she was."
IMAGE: Janhvi is inconsolable as her dad Boney Kapoor looks out for her at her mother's funeral. Photograph: Pradeep Bandekar
"I've never seen so many people at anyone's funeral," Satish says of Sridevi's last rites on Wednesday.
"There was not a dry eye to be seen. Her going away has affected everyone, even those who had never met her. The nation is in grief."
He has a message for the media.
"To have a section of the media reduce her death to a cheap melodrama with a bath tub and a bottle on screen makes me ashamed to see our media stooping so low."
"Kuch toh sharm karo! (Have some shame!). There should be respect and privacy for any dead person. And this is Sridevi, yaar!"