Even after 50 years in the business & 300 films, Sridevi is as humble as if this was her first. You compliment her and she gives the entire credit to all the technicians she has worked with. “My journey has been beautiful and wonderful. I thank all my co-stars and my directors, producers and all my technicians who made me this. “ You compliment her even more and she’s embarrassed. Speaking of fans lining up even today with the same enthusiasm, she feels ecstatic and says, “We really worked hard for that. We literally slogged, so we are happy if they go crazy as we want it that way.” I sit down to chat with this legend of a human being.
After English Vinglish, what lured you about Mom?
Well, it’s a very simple story but the subject is very emotional. But the reason why I did this film is because of the relationship between the mother and daughter. That really moved me and I had a good feeling about this. I always go with my instinct. I am like a normal mother, it should really move you. That’s the only thing I go by. The rest about how the film will be made is for the producer and the director to worry. They are the ones who can do justice to the subject. Even when you watch English Vinglish, it is a very simple story but the way Gauri ( Shinde) treated the film made all the difference. You know, I think about family members in the sense of how they react to a particular character. Forget about me being, ‘Sridevi’ or what she does and how she does it. I am a normal mother and I think how I would react to it. I don’t think too much about other things. My approach to selecting films is very simple, it should touch my heart.
So, do you discuss parts with family before coming on board?
Discussion happens in every household. If you are in a family, you won’t take a decision just like that. When you hear something nice, you would want to share it with them. Of course, I do share things with my daughters and my husband.
Speaking of family, your daughters are all set to make their debut. Do you advise them on how to handle certain things that might come handy?
Like any other mother, be it in this profession or any other, I tell my daughters the right things to do. Work hard, give your best. I keep telling them that hard work always pays off.
We love seeing you, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Akshaye Khanna in one frame. Watching such fine actors in one frame is a treat!
Nawaz is unbelievable. There are some actors who are so versatile and he is that. When he is a villain, you hate him, you are scared of him. But when he plays a vulnerable character, he is unbelievable. I am a big admirer of his work and I had a great experience working with him. Working with Akshaye (Khanna) and Nawaz was absolutely amazing and even Sajal (Ali), she plays my daughter in the film and Adnan Siddiqui who plays my husband and all of them are brilliant. I was on my toes in the entire film because I was working with such actors. I learned a lot from them.
You have seen the Indian Cinema and the fraternity evolve in so many ways. Do you enjoy the things that have changed?
There is too much exposure today but we have to change with the time. Everything has changed, the media, the takes in a film, the environment. Everything has changed. There was not much media that time so people didn’t know so much about us. There was always a mystery. Speaking of today’s generation, they want to know more about the actors, so everything works around that. So, I think it is fine.
We have heard so many stories about you being an introvert and in a split second being magic on camera.
That is with every actor you know. The moment the camera starts, you have to forget everything and you become that person that you are playing. Only then you can do justice to it. Speaking of Mom, I lived in that character. I became Devaki. I was feeling what she is going through because emotions are very draining. It is very unnerving to be in such a situation.
Comparing what stardom was and what it is now, things have changed. Do you feel differently?
I don’t agree. Many actors are doing well and have made their mark in the industry. You take Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra, Vidya Balan, Kangna Ranaut, Anushka Sharma, Alia Bhatt. They all are special, they all are stars and have achieved a lot. Their performances are unbelievable. When you watch any film of theirs, you feel that she is the best. It is absolutely outstanding what they are doing.
Having worked with so many directors in all these years, who do you think brought the best in you?
I think many directors. But of course, Shekhar Kapur, he is the best for an actor and gets the best out of them. But honestly, all the directors that I have worked with are special.
Today if you think about not being an actor, what else would you have pursued?
I love to paint, I think if not an actor, I would have been a painter. But something creative definitely.