MUMBAI — She is nothing less than a diva. Having spent 50 years in films, as a child artiste from the age of four to a heroine, first down south and then in Hindi cinema, Sridevi is now a mother in all senses — a real mom to Jhanvi (on the threshold of an acting career) and Khushi — and a reel mom in her comeback film in 2012, “English Vinglish” (which remains the only successful comeback film among those of many actresses from the ‘70s to the ‘90s) and now, yet again in her latest film, also called “Mom.”
From working with the biggest banners, directors and co-stars to enacting cult songs like “Nainon Mein Sapna” (“Himmatwala”), “Kaate Nahin Kat-te” and “Hawa Hawaii” (“Mr. India”), “Mere Haathon Mein Nau Nau Chudiyaan Hai” (“Chandni”) and more, Sridevi was Queen Bee of the female roster of Hindi cinema for many years, having her own draw even in that heroes’ era of Jeetendra, Amitabh Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor and Anil Kapoor.
As international press, we get a record low of seven minutes on phone, but we manage to score a little over 10 minutes instead in a rapid-fire.
Excerpts from an interview:
Q: Both your films of late have had you playing mother to a grown-up girl. But both roles and subjects are different. Buzz is that “Mom” is a vendetta thriller.
A: What makes this film special is that it is produced by Boney-ji (Kapoor, her husband) with whom I am working 20 years after “Judaai” on the big-screen. (They had collaborated on the TV serial, “Malini Iyer” in 2004). Boney-ji is a passionate and dedicated producer and stars who work with him find him a treat.
As for the film, it releases this week and you will see that it is more than just a thriller. It has emotions and lots more.
Q: Did it help in both your films that you were a mom in real life?
A: Yes, it did. As for Sajal Ali, who plays my daughter here, she became just like my third daughter! I really miss her during the promotions.
Q: Is it different working for established legend directors like Balu Mahendra, K. Vishwanath, Yash Chopra and Subhash Ghai vis-à-vis first-timers Gauri Shinde in “English Vinglish” and Ravi Udyawar in “Mom?”
A: I don’t see any difference. There is as much passion as the older names. There is a slight difference in approach. But Ravi’s vision of a mother was so clear and he is so passionate about his script.
Q: Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Akshaye Khanna have categorically said that they signed the film to get a chance to work with you.
A: Actually, I am happy that Akshaye, who is so choosy, liked and accepted the film. Nawazuddin Siddiqui, like Akshaye, is so good. We waited for him to finish his other assignments so that we could get him on board.
Q: You complete 300 films with “Mom.” What has acting meant for you, since it could not have been your choice of profession at the age of four when you started out?
A: Acting is the only thing I can do. It is a passion, and just like meditation for me. It is very creative with lots of innovations and the best part is that we keep doing different characters.
When I began as a child artiste, I would listen to the director, mug up my lines and act with confidence before the camera. Noticing this, my parents supported me. If I had not been comfortable, they would not have forced me to take up acting.
Q: Do you support your daughter Jhanvi Kapoor’s choice of acting as her profession?
A: Yes, Boney-ji and I support her the way my parents supported me.
Q: Both of you could have made a film to launch her.
A (Laughs): I think we would like her to be independent!
Q: What next can we expect from you?
A: I can’t plan anything. I never did.
Q: In this unplanned success story, are there any regrets?
A: None, and I will not exchange anything in my life for something else.