“When I heard of M’aam (Sridevi’s) death I couldn’t believe it. Boney Kapoor and I are friends for 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 known M’aam (Sridevi) 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 makeup 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 heart breaking.
Boney Kapoor and I go back a long way. I was serving as an assistant on Shekhar Kapoor’s Joshilay which Boney produced .This was way back in 1988. I saw Sridevi in Himmatwala and I was stunned by her screen presence. Javed Akhtar Saab recommended her very strongly. She was signed for the female lead of Joshilay along with Anil Kapoor, Sunny Deol and Meenakshi Sheshadri. Sridevi played a village belle, a circus owner’s daughter and her comic timing was impeccable even back then. After that again I got a chance to work closely with her when she did Mr India where I assisted Shekhar again. Who but Sridevi could do the Charlie Chaplin act or the ‘Hawa Hawaai’ song? I was there to see how quickly she grasped the requirements of these scenes. I don’t know of anyone as natural-born an actor as Sridevi. She was in my opinion a complete actress. By the time I got a chance to direct 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. I remember during one song ‘Chai Mein Chini’ Sridevi had to keep on her Chinese makeup for hours. It was very painful since her eyes had been narrowed and there were pins all over her head. But she kept the makeup on without any complaint. 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 her steps. When she was in front of the camera she forgot who she was or that she could cause herself hurt while doing a shot. Perfection was her only pursuit on camera. When she chose a role she embraced it wholeheartedly. In her later years she chose the real-life role of a mother to Jhanvi and Khushi.
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 Jhanvi and Khushi looking so lost without her…When my daughter was born after many years without children, M’aam came home 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. I’ve never seen so many people at anyone’s condolence meet or funeral. 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. And then to have a section of the media reduce her death to a cheap melodrama with a bath tub and a bottle on the screen. Makes me ashamed to see our media stooping so low. Kuch toh sharm karo. There should be respect and privacy for any dead person. And this is Sridevi, yaar!”