Ram Gopal Verma on Sridevi Death.

Yes, she was the most desirable woman and the biggest super star of the country and ruled as a main heroine in the entire country for more than 20 years..

But that’s just a part of the story

However shocked and sad I feel about Sridevi’s death, it’s finally once again a rude reminder for all of us about how unpredictable, cruel,fragile and mysterious both life and death are

After her death ,there is definitely much more for me to say than what most people are saying now about how beautiful she was, what a great actress she was, how her death affected them, ” RIP”s “Om shanthi” s. etc etc etc

Sridevi’s life is a classic case of how each person’s actual life is completely different from how the rest of the outside world perceives it.

For many, Sridevi’s life was perfect . Beautiful face, great talent, seemingly stable family with two beautiful daughters–

From outside everything looked so enviable and desirable…

But was Sridevi a very happy person and did she lead a very happy life?

I know her life from the time I met her first for my film kshanakshanam .

I saw with my own eyes how her life was like a bird in the sky till her father’s death and then became like a bird in a cage due to her overprotective mother.

In those days actors used to be only paid in mostly black money and due to fear of tax raids her father used to trust friends and relatives who all betrayed her the moment the father died.

Coupled with this, the ignorant mother made many wrong investments in litigated properties and all those mistakes combined made her penniless by the time Boney came into her life.

Boney himself was in huge debts and all he could afford to give her was a fat shoulder to cry on

After her mother became a psychotic patient because of a wrong surgery on her brain in USA, though Boney sued the hospital, they didn’t get any huge amounts of money in settlement because of some agreement mistakes he did with the lawyers there.

Once the mother died, her younger sister Shri Latha eloped and got married to their neighbours son ..

The mother before dying put all properties in Sridevi’s name.. but her sister put a case on her demanding half the property.

Claiming that her mother was insane and not in her senses when she signed the will due to the brain surgery.

So, in effect, the woman desired by millions in the world – was all alone in the world except for one Boney.

Boney ‘s mother portrayed her as a home breaker – and publicly punched her in the stomach – in a five star hotel lobby… in revenge for what she presumed – about what she did to Boney’s first wife – Mona.

Except for the short glimmer of (the movie) English -V, Sridevi has been, pretty much, a very unhappy woman.

Boney’s debts , the uncertainty of the future, the ugly turns and twists in her private life – left deep scars in the super stars sensitive mind.

And thereafter – she was never at peace.

She went through so much in her life – and due to her early career entry, life never gave her time to grow up at a normal pace.

More than the external peace, her internal mental state was of a high degree of concern.

And this caused her to look at her own self.

She was the most beautiful woman for so many people. But did she think she was beautiful ?

Yes, but every actresses nightmare is age – and she was no exception.

For years she was doing cosmetic surgeries – the effects of which can be clearly seen In her interviews and public appearances,

She always came across as very shy, insecure and low on confidence .

Some one who was very uptight, – who built a psychological wall around herself – as she was scared…

Of anybody (getting) to see what was really going on within her.

She was panicky about anybody knowing what her psychological insecurities were.

Not because of her fault, but because she was thrust into fame from a very young age.

Something that never gave her a chance to be independent.

Or be what she could really be and really wanted to be.

She had to put on make-up – and be somebody else… not just in front of the cameras, but also behind the camera.

Though I, as audience, thoroughly enjoyed her on the screen , I now wish, after knowing her as a person, – that she should have been allowed to be a star.. even in her normal life.

Instead of being constantly directed by her parents,her relatives, her husband and to an extent even her own daughters ..

She was scared whether her daughters would be accepted, or whether they would go the Hema Malini’s daughter Esha Deol way…

I could see in her eyes the pain she was going through deep inside her.

And that’s because she was actually a child trapped in a woman’s body ..!

She was naiive as a person, ..- but suspicious – because of her bitter experiences.

Which is not a very good combination .

She used to convey to me so much, through her silences, than most would ..in their best conversations !

Coming to her death, it is most likely a combination of heart stroke induced accidental drowning death in the tub .

But medications might have played a huge role.

Many suicides and accidental deaths happen after big parties or weddings.

That’s because people with depression and insecurities can’t understand why the whole world is so happy and enjoying (itself)..

While they, themselves, are not able to feel the happiness – in spite of all the glitter and spotlight.

That reminds them that they are deeply sad – and that there is nothing wrong with the world.

And – that the fault is just with them – that they are not able to feel anything !

Some people who are very deeply depressed commit suicide.

Others, just to control their depression and anxiety, take extra pills, not knowing that it can be dangerous – in certain doses and conditions

Keeping speculation on her death aside – and coming back to the point of her life, I generally don’t say ” Rest In Peace” after people die..

But in her case – I want to really say it …because I very strongly believe that she would finally, now, .really rest in peace – for the first time in her life !

Or shall I say death ?


Sridevi funeral news updates: Dubai Police records Boney Kapoor’s statement, delay in return of actor’s body

Actor Sridevi’s mortal remains are unlikely to reach Mumbai before Tuesday as the authorities have delayed the clearance for repatriation on Monday. Contrary to earlier reports, the body has not been sent for embalming yet and the procedure is likely to be carried out on Tuesday afternoon at Sonapur in Dubai, Khaleej Times reported.

A fresh twist was added to the veteran actor’s death after the forensic report revealed that Sridevi died of accidental drowning in her hotel bathtub after losing consciousness. Initial reports had cited a heart attack as the cause of her death on late Saturday at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel, where she had been attending a nephew’s wedding.

Gulf News shared an image of the report, which found traces of alcohol in her blood, and stated that Sridevi lost balance, fell into the bathtub and drowned.

“The death of Indian actress Sridevi occurred due to drowning in her hotel apartment’s bathtub following loss of consciousness,” the Dubai Police tweeted, citing a post-mortem report. Police have now referred the case to the public prosecutor. It is not clear what caused her to lose consciousness yet.

RIP Sridevi: The queen exits

When I woke up to the news of Sridevi’s demise yesterday, I fervently hoped that it was a ‘death hoax’ and someone would call me soon to say, “It was a mistake. Sri is alive.”

But when my worst fears were confirmed and I learnt that she had passed away close to midnight on February 24 in Dubai with husband Boney Kapoor by her side, I just slumped in my chair. I felt a lot older and was so deeply saddened by the news that I’m yet to recover from it.

Okay, let me put things into perspective. Sridevi or Pappi, as she was called by her family, was not a friend. But she was the darling of the masses for over three decades. And for those of us who started Hindi cinema reportage at the start of the ’80s, she was someone who dominated our thoughts.

Personally and professionally, No 1 was always a lonely spot and Sri, who wore the mantle of top dog for the longest time, never let her mask slip in front of anyone but her immediate family. Fiercely protective about her private life, she hated being probed, whether it was about her mother who controlled her finances or Mithun Chakraborty, who had stolen her heart.

The only time she broke down (or rather the first time it became public knowledge) was at the start of the ’90s, when she lost her father, Ayyapan Yanger. She was shooting for Boney’s Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja (1993) then. That was perhaps one of the earliest times when she sought refuge in his home in Lokhandwala. The company of  Boney’s parents — Surinder and Nirmala Kapoor — gave her solace.

Interviewing Sri was always a task. A person of few words, getting an answer out of her was tough. Yet, I have notched up some really terrific interviews with her. Both of us spoke Tamil and perhaps that’s why Sri gave me more concessions than she did to other journos.

However, the atmosphere around her was crackling. She was deified all over South India, long before she came to Mumbai. Chances were that you would be trampled upon by her fans if you were travelling to a shoot with her. Like this one time when we went to Visakhapatnam for a shoot of a film called Jaani Dost (1983). She was pairing up with Jeetendra in the Hindi version and Krishna in the Telugu version. As bystanders, our jaw dropped because in the sweltering summer heat of Andhra Pradesh, at least 20,000 had come from nearby villages and townships just to get a glimpse of their devi.

She was riding such high in the ’80s that soon after Himmatwala and Mawaali (both of which released in 1983) followed by Maqsad (1984), she became the reigning queen of Hindi cinema.

But she was no fluke. Like Jeetendra, with whom she had done 15-odd films, had once told me, “As far as Sri goes, I admired her when she was a newcomer. I admire her even now.”  He added, “She wasn’t the original choice for Himmatwala. It was supposed to be Rekha. But director K Raghavendra Rao asked me to see this new girl. Sri landed Himmatwala and the rest is history.”

Jeetu also recalled her dedication. “She was a fabulous dancer. And I was like a parrot. I would just parrot my steps and keep doing rehearsals. Though Sri got her steps right the first time itself, she would patiently rehearse with me. Her dedication should be applauded,” he said. Amitabh Bachchan, Vinod Khanna, Rishi Kapoor and Anil Kapoor clamoured to do a film with her. Dimple Kapadia, Amrita Singh and Meenakshi Seshadri mostly did those films that were rejected by Sridevi.

I remember the time in 1987, when we wrapped up an interview on a flight from Mumbai to Chennai where she told me, “I’m absolutely fed up of doing films where a heroine is just required to stand around as a showpiece.”

By this time she was refusing more movies than accepting them. It didn’t matter to her even if the film was a Toofan (1989) with Amitabh.

In his biography by Harper Collins, Khullam Khulla: Rishi Kapoor Uncensored that I co-authored with him, Rishi says, “There was only one heroine who was a little reluctant to work with me, very likely because she was the bigger star at the time.  Sridevi was making waves and I had hit a plateau when we worked together in Nagina (1986). She was also very reclusive. I was later told that she was an extremely shy person and very inhibited.”

“One of our most embarrassing moments was when we were shooting a song for Nagina at RK Studios. When you are in the midst of a ‘take’ and the assistant cameraman suddenly says the magazine has run out (when the camera needs a new roll of film), it is a very awkward moment for actors. The lights are on, you are in position, and you have to hold it, looking odd and static, while a new film is loaded. During Nagina, Sridevi and I found ourselves in that awkward situation, just standing there, waiting. When she suddenly spoke to me and said, ‘Sir, I have seen Khel Khel Mein four times,’ I was so taken aback. I could only mumble something about a film of hers that I had seen and that was it.”

“That was the only conversation I had with Sridevi all through the filming of Nagina. Otherwise, it was always ‘Namasteji’ and ‘Good Night ji.’

It was during the making of Chandni (1989) that we became friendly. She opened up to me and a new level of comfort also improved our performance. Yashji (Chopra) gave us a free hand in the film, leaving a lot of room for improvisation. It worked well since I had to be spontaneous and improvise on set, and so did Sri. She contributed a great deal towards making scenes work. The ‘cognac, sharab nahi hoti’ sequence, for instance, was entirely improvised. It was not in the original script. It was made up on the spot by Yashji, Sridevi and me.

Sridevi is a terrific actor who balances method acting (which she picked up from Kamal Haasan) with spontaneity. She has also evolved over the years. When I saw her in English Vinglish (2012), I was floored. She has flowered into a highly-intelligent actor.

I was probably one of the first people to know that Sridevi was in a relationship with Boney Kapoor. For the first time, I had an inkling of it when we were shooting a song for a film in Goa. Sridevi had left the location before me. And, I was heading back to the Taj for lunch when I saw someone who looked like Boney from afar. But I wasn’t sure. Fortunately, the general manager of the hotel, Joe, was a classmate of mine. I called him up and asked, ‘Is Boney here?’ He said, ‘Who Boney?’ I replied, ‘Boney Kapoor.’ He looked up the name on the computer and reported that he wasn’t there. It occurred to me then that he may have used an alias, so I asked Joe, ‘Has an Achal Kapoor checked in?’ And the answer was, ‘Yes.’

Achal Kapoor is Boney’s real name. And that’s when I guessed what was brewing between the two. Three or four months later, after they got married, there were whispers that she was carrying his baby. The dress man of our film revealed that all her clothes were being altered and her trousers were being loosened. The director was also told not to take shots below the waist. But for the most part, Sridevi kept her personal life away from public scrutiny, and professionally, she was wonderful to work with. She was a fabulous actor. I had two huge successes with her, Nagina and Chandni. We also did Banjaran (1991), which was an average film.”

After her marriage to Boney, Sri’s world revolved around her home. She affectionately called him, “Papa” and he addressed her with many endearments including “Jaan”.  When one dropped by to meet Boney at their Juhu bungalow in a quiet by-lane, Sri was the one offering chai and biscuits. She looked happy beyond words and of course once Janhvi and Khushi came, she just slipped seamlessly into domesticity.

On her return from Dubai, Sri and Boney were committed to fly to Mauritius to attend a function where she was to be Chief Guest. And a few weeks ago, this couple was also house-hunting in South Mumbai. Perhaps, they were looking for a plush address to settle sometime later in life.

Of course, all of that is now an unrealised dream. The queen of Indian cinema has passed away, leaving behind her a void that will never be filled.

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