Looking at her, no one in their right mind would say that Sridevi looks 53. The diva, whose birthday is on August 13, talks to Subhash K Jha about waiting 15 years before doing English Vinglish, he future, plans, favourite directors and of course, her family.
How do you look back on your years as an actor, wife and mother?
I am always grateful for what I’ve got. God has been kind to me. My fans have been with me all these years. At this juncture in my life I don’t want to let them down. I’ve to be doubly sure that I don’t do any wrong film
What does the success of Mom 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. Mom and EnglishVinglish have 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 can’t do anything run-of-the-mill?
No, no. There is no need for me to do anything I don’t think is right. It took me 15 years to do English Vinglish.
Please don’t take another 15 years to do your next film…
No, no, no (laughs). But I have to be careful. Not 15 years for sure. I’ve been hearing a lot of scripts. But nothing seems just right, the way I felt when I was offered English Vinglish and Mom.
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 Mr Yash Chopra.
Did you feel you could have worked with more directors like Yash Chopra and Shekhar Kapoor?
That’s a very big compliment. No I was very happy with the work and the directors I got to work with. But yes, the search for challenging roles never ends. I’d love to work with Shekhar Kapoor again. He brought out the best in me in Mr India. I’d also like to work with Ashutosh Gowariker, Farhan Akhtar, Rakesh Mehra, Raj Kumar Santoshi and Gauri Shinde again and again.
Your elder daughter Jahnvi has turned into a pretty young lady. And she’s finally taking the plunge into 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 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. But the fact is, she is as health-conscious as I am. In fact at the gym a lady told Jhanvi, ‘Poor thing, your Mama is making you slog.’ We were both in splits. Please let me inform those concerned about Jhanvi’s visits to the health club that one stays fit not only to face the camera. It is not a joke to become an actor. It requires great amounts of hard work and patience. I myself missed out on all the normal childhood activities because I started acting when I was a child. I believe there is no gain without pain in life.
I want my children to not miss out anything in life. I learnt everything on the job. I learnt everything after I started acting.
You were a very fast learner…
Was I? No one else from my family had ever acted. I don’t know how I do it. All I know is, whatever one does, has to come from one’s heart. Aap poora dil se karo. I’ve never planned my scenes. I’ve done whatever came naturally to me.
Boney Kapoor is a very devoted spouse…
I am very lucky to have him. God was very kind to bring him into my life. I don’t know what I’d have done without him. I’d be completely lost. I couldn’t have got anyone better than Boney Ji. I am absolutely sure he is the best person for me. He understands me, protects me and looks after me. What else does any wife want? I am grateful for the feeling of security he has provided me.