Sridevi refutes claims that she’s an introvert and reveals she had once imagined herself as a lawyer like her father and ended up in courtrooms but only in films
Roshmila Bhattacharya (MUMBAI MIRROR; July 6, 2017)

She was a superstar in her time and even today, when she comes out of a four-year hibernation, Sridevi manages to spark off plenty of excitement. But while the actress is all fire on screen, away from the cameras she’s usually seen sitting quietly in a corner waiting to get into action. Her reticence recently prompted her Mom co-star, Akshaye Khanna, to quip, “I thought I was borderline reclusive but Sridevi takes being a private person to a whole different level. She is the ultimate non-communicator. I haven’t seen this quality in actors in a long time. No one can be friends with us unless they have known us for years, there can never be an icebreaking moment and I love it!”

Sridevi, however, was quick to refute Akshaye’s observation, reasoning, “When you are a public personality, you can’t afford to be a recluse. If I sit quietly in a corner waiting for the camera to roll, it doesn’t mean that I am aloof and cut off from people. It could be that I am thinking about the shot or going over my lines.”

She points towards Nawazuddin Siddiqui, another Mom co-star, admitting that she was impressed with the actor and keen to see how he prepped up for a shot. “It’s the same. He also sits in a corner, learning his lines. But as soon as the camera is on, he blows everyone away!” she exclaims, recalling how her late father always insisted that empty vessels make the most noise.

Her father was a lawyer and Sridevi recalls going to court with him sometimes when she was a child and watching wide-eyed as he argued a case before the judge. “I worshipped him and there was a time when I toyed with the idea of becoming a lawyer too. But eventually I ended up in a courtroom only in films and they were very different from the ones I had seen in real life with lots of natak and melodrama. I remember my father and the lawyer on the opposite side being friends, laughing and joking with each other outside the courtroom. But in our movies, they are usually sworn enemies. I guess we are entitled to some creative liberties,” she smiles.

Quiz her on her favourite screen moments and she immediately recalls her ode to Charlie Chaplin in husband Boney Kapoor’s fantasy adventure Mr India. “I’m a fan and playing him on screen was a dream come true. It was initially supposed to be only one scene with a few shots but because I was enjoying myself so much in the get-up and the whole unit concurred that it looked good, Shekhar Kapur, the film’s director, turned it into an item with plenty of improvisations on the set and the one-day shoot stretched to eleven days. It went on to become one of the film’s highlights,” she reminisces.

The almost nine-minute sequence when she enters a gambling den as Charlie, tripping over her feet, tickling the goons, acting goofy and being spoofy, was a riot. And as unforgettable was the sensuous “Kaate nahin katti te” which rates among her favourite songs, along with Chalbaaz’s “Na Jaane Kahan Se Aaye hai”. “I’ve enjoyed all my songs but remember these two in particular because I was really unwell when we were filming them, burning with fever but they turned out well,” she shares.

She gave the nod to her upcoming thriller Mom after she was floored by a one-line idea pitched by Boney about a mother trying to save her daughter who is in trouble. She points out that you find incredible strength when your child is in trouble and you wonder if there are any real life parallels.

“Fortunately neither of my two daughters have been in a situation like this and thank God for it,” she says fervently. “But I am a huge darpok as far as doctors, medicines and injections go. I fall to pieces when I am hurt but when it comes to my children, I am a pillar of strength, applying balm and bandages and dressing up their wounds.” Awwww!