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The One

For five decades and 300 plus films, Sridevi ruled hearts and will continue to do so. Starting her career as a child artiste, she went on to capture audiences across the world with her innocent face, enchanting smile and powerful performances. Colleagues and admirers share their heartfelt memories of her.

Subhash Ghai, Director-Producer

Sridevi had many special traits that I observed when I worked with her in Karma which I now pass on to my students. She was never a business-conscious person but gave priority to her work-related activities as an actor. She didn’t have a PR or marketing manager either; her mom or aunt would handle monetary discussions and negotiations. She never reacted to the box office business of her films. It wouldn’t matter if the movie was commercially hit or flop. After the release of her films, she would ask if her scenes or her dance was appreciated by the audience or not. Sridevi was a very private person and avoided socialising except in situations related to work. She was an introvert and would save her energy by keeping quiet on sets to unleash her energy in front of the camera. She worked for 15 years non-stop without even one single holiday. Even Sundays were for costume checks and photo shoots. Her first priority was to shoot for feature films before taking on endorsements or other work. She would surprise directors and co-actors by going over and above to perform a scene. Sridevi was a master at giving reactions. She didn’t waste her talent unless required in a scene or in her dance. I remember I once had to change Anupam Kher’s reaction shots on her magical dance number and his expressions in the climax of Karma. She would understand the director’s brief before he could complete his interpretations of a scene and then she would just smile even you are talking seriously. Her silence would intimidate you. What an enigma she was! At times, she would look like an innocent child with lots of insecurities around her. She was very scared of her failure as an actor. She was arrested by her stardom as every star is.

She knew only three things: Acting, acting and acting!

A super actor indeed!

Bhushan Kumar, Producer, T-Series

Srideviji is an epitome of brilliance and grace. She created magic with just her presence on screen and that brightened up our lives. She hasn’t left us, she is still with us through her movies, her smile, happiness and kindness she always showered on others.

Anees Bazmee, Writer-Director

The entire world knows that there can never be a greater actress than her. Writers and directors used to write movies for her. She was a hero in herself. Army and Laadla came at a time when actresses were there to support the hero and perform a couple of songs.  Sridevi has done such movies also, but she came alive on screen in whatever she did. She gave up her active career for her family. She stayed away for nearly 15 years to take care of her husband and daughters. And then she came back in such a strong role with English Vinglish and MOM. Both these movies were about her. She was such a talented lady who has done so much work, and worked with such huge actors. With Amitji she did Khuda Gawah in which she had a double role and as important as the hero. This, I think, is such a huge achievement. Not many heroines can say that about their careers. She was a great actress. As a person, I was close to the family. I had done Boneyji’s movie No Entry. I used to visit the family every few weeks. And whenever I visited them, she was so full of love and warmth. You wouldn’t feel that you were meeting such a huge actress. She was comfortable as a home maker, a doting wife to Boneyji taking care of his every need. She loved her daughters. For someone to stay away for 15 years from success and fame, is proof of her love for her children. For me they are family; be it Boneyji, Srideviji, Anil Kapoor and now Arjun too, with whom I did Mubarakan. I remember when No Entry became a success, we went to their house - Salman bhai, Anil Kapoor, Fardeen, Lara. I don’t think we can ever forget that day. She hosted us and everyone was so happy. It is a huge loss to Boneyji and the girls. I can feel their pain. I still cannot believe that this has happened. She was a lovely lady and I am still unable to accept the fact that Sridevi is no longer with us.

Divya Khosla Kumar, Actor-Director

My love for her can be described with this iconic dialogue from Lamhe by Srideviji: ‘Main toh unhe tabse pyaar karti hu jabse main paanch saal ki thi’. It resonates with my respect and love for her. I was shocked with the news and my heart aches with grief. The Indian film industry has been left with a void and so has my heart.

Juhi Chawla, Actor

It was shocking to hear about Sridevi especially since I admire her a lot. When I was close to joining the industry, I used to watch her movies. I used to think that she looked magical on screen, You couldn’t take your eyes off her. She danced so well, her expressions were priceless. She was simply scintillating on screen. I never had much training as an actress. If one had to look fabulous, Sridevi was the way to go. She was in my first film Sultanant but I didn’t get to meet her then. I was extremely new, I was in the first year of college. Even if I had met her, I wouldn’t have known what to say to her. A few years later, I worked in Chandni. I was doing a guest appearance. Chandni was her film. I worked on an ad with her, Hema Malini, Sridevi, Kareena and SRK, her Jhanvi was a little girl and she had come to the shoot with her. I remember sitting and chatting with her. When my daughter was named Jahnavi I called her and 

told her that I am naming my daughter the same as hers. Another coincidence happens to be that I have an apartment in the same building as Sridevi. When I am shooting in the suburbs I use this as my base. When I would go for walks, once in a while I would see her with her ear phones, jogging along the track, late in the evening. She’d say hello, but she would prefer to keep to herself. She was just fabulous on screen and I will always be a fan.

Saroj Khan, Choreographer

Sridevi was a very good friend of mine. She was a fabulous actress and a born dancer. It is a tragic loss that she is not with us today and I don’t have words to express how sad and shocked I am about this.

Bappi Lahiri, Music Composer, Singer

When I saw Sridevi in Naino mein sapna from Himmatwala, I felt like I saw a fairy. After that, I have worked with Sri and Jeetendra together in eleven films, out of which five released in the same year including Himmatwala, Mawaali, Tohfa, Maqsad, Jaani Dost. It was one super hit after the other. She had childlike innocence. She was such a big star but never made it look like she was one. Her stardom never showed in her behaviour. My wife, kids and I know her personally. She was very fond of my family also. Her parents would come to my place as well; it was like family. I remember her coming for my granddaughter’s first birthday. Post her marriage we weren’t in touch. There were two films Guru and Waqt Ki Awaz which were big hits of that time. She called me when we were recording the last song of Waqt Ki Awaz to ask how the song had turned out. Sri was apprehensive when we were working on the Nakabandi song. She wasn’t sure if Usha Uthup’s voice would match her. But it did and she was very happy about it. In Shomu Mukherjee’s Pathar Ke Insaan, she was in a song called Suraj nache sagar nache, where she looked absolutely stunning. She was a fabulous classical dancer. She was undoubtedly one of the most versatile actresses I have ever seen. She was equally graceful performing a classical dance as she did any western form. She was an outstanding actor. Sadma is one of my favourite films. Today, she has left the entire world in Sadma. Not only in India, Sri not being with us has become global news. Everybody is talking about her, such was her stardom. When she took a hiatus and came back after 15 years, she was still on point. There were twenty-five thousand people at her funeral procession. She was the only lady superstar of her time. I did a cameo in Kalaakar, in which I had a wonderful scene with Sridevi. She encouraged me to do the role in the film. Once, when I was staying in London for work, she was there with her family. I remember taking them for a tour of London. She was not fond of the cold, hence asked to switch on the heater inside the car. I have too many memories with her. I just want to say, ‘Chalte chalte mere yeh geet yaad rakhna, kabhi alvida na kehna.’ Don’t ever say goodbye, Sri!

Kavita Krishnamoorthy, Singer

Singing Hawa hawaii for Srideviji has been one of the highest points of my career. It was a great honour. Every song I sang for her was magnificently brought to life by her expressive face. My deep and sincere condolences to Boneyji, her daughters and the entire family.

Poonam Dhillon, Actor

 

It still hasn’t sunk in. It is still unreal. I was thinking about the family and what they must be going through. I am sure it is traumatic for her young daughters. But the hand of their mom is still upon them. She had a wonderful life with name, fame and respect. Truly deserving, extremely talented and hardworking, she was one of the most decent actors to see on screen. I will personally miss her. My respects to her.

Padmini Kolhapure, Actor

 Like the entire nation, I am in shock. I am in New York and I feel helpless. I wanted to be there with Boney and the family. I am disturbed. I am in shock. We just lost a beautiful woman, a beautiful person, a great actor. She was the epitome of all that is needed to become a star. Gone too soon. I just want to reverse the whole thing. Too difficult to believe. I worked with her in two movies, Suhaagan and Naya Kadam.

Sunidhi Chauhan, Singer

With Srideviji I had a very deep relationship. I did my very first voiceover with her. I was 11 years old. We spent 45 days together. I only remember how loving she was towards me and how quiet, shy and reserved she was at the same time. I remember her holding Jhanvi in her lap. We were touring and we had 13 to 14 shows. My memories with her are something else. I was watching her every day, travelling with her. Being with her was like being in a dream. I never thought I would sing for her and I can’t explain the feeling while watching her mime my song on screen. I was very emotional because I was singing for her after so many years. And now I can’t believe that she is gone. I don’t want to believe that. I still don’t feel like she is actually gone.

Ravi Kishan, Actor

Sridevi was an amazing person. If I talk about my first crush or my first love, then it was her. She was the ultimate heroine. I consider myself fortunate that I got the opportunity to work with her. When it was the first day of shoot on the sets of Army, my heartbeat actually stopped when she arrived. People were wowed by this beautiful, tall, gorgeous girl in normal clothes. She was always very well-cultured and decent. Very respectful of everyone on the set. One thing that I noticed was that whenever she had aggressive or fiery lines or had to shout in a shot, she would just change in front of the camera. She was very calm in real life but when she was in front of the lens, that moment when the director would say “Action” she would transform into a different personality altogether. She was a tigress in front of the camera. I have been lucky to have worked with almost every actress in this country, but I haven’t seen anyone like her. She was very sweet and quiet, like a college girl. She wouldn’t talk much. She was quite an introvert. She was a hardcore professional. No nonsense, no stupidity, no distractions. She would just concentrate on the amazing talent she had. You do your work, pack up, get in the car and go. And she was very warm. We would get that vibe from her when we were shooting outstation for around 50-60 days. Basically, she was a very real person and had a kind of madness when she came in front of the camera. Recently, I was with Mr Boney Kapoor at the Uttar Pradesh summit, right before he went to Dubai to meet Srideviji. We were having dinner and he was talking about her, showing her pictures, their family pictures. He was just talking about her, how she was such a good painter and had such good taste in interiors, etc. It was so sweet, they seemed to be so much in love with each other. They were like lovebirds. When we were sitting there, she was calling him and her number flashed on his phone, and the name read ‘Jaan’. Such a tragedy kills you. She will always be a beautiful memory for me, my first love. I just cannot believe that she is no more.

Raveena Tandon, Actor

I remember Sridevi from the time she acted in my dad, Ravi Tandon’s film Nazrana (1986) with Rajesh Khanna and Shabana Azmiji. She was a part of my growing up years and as a child, I danced to her songs. In 1994, I got to share the screen with her in Laadla and I was awestruck. I was only two films old then and Sridevi was a superstar. She was known to be aloof but I would be in her vanity van most of the times during the shoot and she made me very comfortable. Recently, when my husband Anil (Thadani) and I bought a new house, Boneyji and she were among the first guests who came over, even before the housewarming. She will always be remembered.

Kriti Kulhari, Actor

Sridevi! Didn’t have the privilege of meeting her or working with her. Yet, when the news of her having passed away broke, my heart skipped a beat. I stopped breathing for a second.  How strange is that? How beautiful is that? To have had such an impact on people who were so far removed from the world she lived in is amazing. Truly, it’s not about the amount of work one does as an artist but the quality and honesty of it. She has always been one of my favourites. Right up till her last film MOM, I saw her grow as an artist by leaps and bounds, and for me that is the sign of a true artist and human being. She dazzled us in every role, balancing commercial and artistic characters with equal panache and conviction. Some of her films closest to my heart are Sadma, Mr India, Chaalbaaz, Nagin, Lamhe, Chandni, Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja, English Vinglish. The industry has lost a legend but happily, the thing about a legend is that it lives on... forever and ever.

May her soul be at peace and may she move on to a newer, more beautiful journey.

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