I don’t want Jahnavi to become an actress-Sridevi
Sridevi — who is making a comeback after 15 years — says in an exclusive interview that she would much rather get her daughter married!
Upala KBR (BOMBAY TIMES; May 15, 2012)
Sridevi has changed from what she was 15 years ago, when I last met her. She’s softer, more approachable. But ask her something sensitive and the walls come up. Gently, but firmly, I am told there are certain subjects she won’t discuss. Here, she talks about her family and comeback film English Vinglish.
After 15 years (her last film being Judaai in 1997), you will be seen in a lead role in a film. Why did you stay away for so long?
I’ve been working since I was four. My life has only been about shootings, studios and home. Till marriage and motherhood, I was totally devoted to my work. I didn’t see anything beyond it. I have done my bit as an actress. After marriage, every woman wants to settle down and have children. I have no regrets. I was totally occupied in my little world, enjoying each and every experience that came my way.
Marriage and having children was a different experience altogether, and I wanted to cherish every moment — right from my daughters (Jahnavi and Khushi) taking their first steps to calling me ‘mummy’ to their first day in school. I didn’t want to miss any moment in their lives. I appreciate the way working mothers take care of their children while juggling professional responsibilities, but I felt that I had done enough. I wanted to be there totally for my kids. Now they are grown up so I can act again. Also, they were after me to do a film once more.
How would you describe motherhood?
It is truly a great feeling. I am still enjoying motherhood. There are some tough moments too. Like when my girls fall ill, it’s the worst thing for me. I don’t feel like eating or doing anything. Even if they have a cold, I get tense. I stay up late with them when they have exams, and wake up every morning to see them off to school. No matter what happens, I just have to do that.
What are the things that you insist your daughters do?
Believe in God. I insist that they say a prayer before their exams or important work. I was brought up that way. My mother always had pujas and prayers at home. I have also taught them to respect their elders by greeting them with a namaste and touching their feet.
Is it true that you want Jahnavi to act in films?
Not at all. I think people presume that because she is my daughter she has to become an actress. I feel sad when people think I’m an aggressive mother pushing her daughter to join films or lose weight. Jahnavi is health conscious, like me. I’m extremely careful about my diet and workout, and she follows me. In fact, I play tennis with both my daughters twice a week. Recently, one of the ladies at the health club told her, ‘How sad to see you here working out so hard! Your mother must make you come here and do all these things, no?’ Jahnavi was so angry. She came home and told me, ‘Mum, it’s my wish that I am coming here. I am doing it to be healthy and not because you are pushing me to become slim.’ (laughs).
What do you want her to do?
I don’t want her to do anything at this point besides focusing on her studies. Jahnavi is just 15 and doing very well in school. I am happy with that. She’s too young to do films or anything else. I want both my daughters to get a good education. I missed out on it as I was working from a very early age. I was very good at studies but because I became busy with films, I couldn’t complete my education.
So you have no aspirations of Jahnavi becoming an actress?
None at all! In fact, I don’t want her to become an actress. People have started presuming and even naming some hero’s son as her co-star and we had a big laugh about it. Mera bas chale toh I would get her married soon and settle her down!
Are you a strict mother?
Between Boney (Kapoor) and me, I am the stricter one. But if I say no to something, they (her children) will go to their father and he has to say yes. Then he comes to me to convince me! Sometimes I get convinced, sometimes not. If I decide against it, nobody can change my mind.
Who is naughtier between Khushi and Jahnavi?
Khushi, she is very mischievous!
What made you decide on English Vinglish as your comeback film?
I never decide or plan things. I would have grabbed English Vinglish at any given time if the script had come to me even five or 10 years ago. I didn’t plan this as my comeback film. It just happened. R Balki (the director) is very close to my husband Boney and he came to me with two scripts. I heard and loved both of them. One was written by Balki and the other by his wife Gauri, and it was her script that really touched my heart the most. Any middle-class housewife will be able to identify with my character, and that’s why I felt this is the right film for me.
It’s about a housewife who learns to speak English…
It’s not just that. She’s totally devoted to her family. Her world revolves around her husband and children. But there comes a time when she has to go to New York alone. Till now, she’s always been surrounded by her family, but being alone in New York is a different experience for her. It’s about who she meets, what she does, the challenges she faces. At home in India, she has been taken for granted while taking care of her family. They don’t appreciate what she’s doing for them, as they are busy in their own worlds. When she’s not there, they come to appreciate her value. It’s a feel-good film.
Was it tough facing the camera after more than a decade?
Not at all. I never felt that there was a gap even though I faced the camera after 15 years. My first shot was an introduction to the heroine and it was a simple scene. Luckily, we planned the film’s schedule around my children’s holidays. We shot the first schedule at a studio and the girls would drop in after school. They would bring their friends to show off too (laughs). Balki and Gauri are very sweet and warm people. It’s easy to communicate with them and I felt like I was shooting at home. I have a habit of forgetting to eat when I am shooting. We used to work round the clock as getting permissions in NY is very tough, but Balki made sure that I would eat on time. Often, Gauri and I would get carried away while shooting, but Balki would remind her to take a break so I could eat. Working with such people makes work so much easier. I am anxious but not tense about the release. I’m hoping for the best!
Did you enjoy your TV stint?
To be honest — no. TV is not my cup of tea. Maybe I didn’t enjoy it was because my children were very small at that time. Khushi was just two years old and Jahnavi was four. I had to go to Film City at 7 am everyday to shoot for the whole day. By the time I reached home, I was exhausted. It wasn’t a pleasurable experience.
Films have changed a lot from what they used to be. What are the kind of projects you want to do?
Kahaani was superb! I’ve seen the change in Indian cinema today and I hope I get subjects like that too. Films like Kahaani and The Dirty Picture prove that today, the script is the hero.
Do you plan to do more films?
It all depends on how the audience reacts to English Vinglish. I am happy doing one or two films, but the script should satisfy me as an actress.
Who do you feel is the most talented actress in the current lot?
Everybody has their own charm. Vidya (Balan) is unbelievably talented. Priyanka is glamourous and can dance and act well too, but I fell in love with Deepika Padukone from her first film Om Shanti Om. It didn’t seem like her debut film. She’s a stunning girl. I loved Anushka Sharma in Band Bajaa Baraat too. Sonam (Kapoor) is very pretty and a promising actress. Rani (Mukerji) is superb and has done some marvellous films.
- I was scared to ask Vidya to gain 8 kgs-Rajkumar Gupta
- In pictures: Dr Ashok Chopra’s condolence meet
- I’m not here to champion women’s empowerment-Vidya Balan
- If I want to go to Juhu beach I still will, there won’t be a problem-Amitabh Bachchan
- Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai changed my career-Emraan Hashmi
- Vidya Balan leaves her hand imprint at Cannes
- Balki wants Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan in his next?
- Naturally, Leonardo and Tobey called me Amitabh-Amitabh Bachchan
- Vidya Balan knows what women want?
- Most men are couch potatoes-Emraan Hashmi