In Vijaywada when I was doing my engineering there were so many times when I used to stand in the line waiting to buy a ticket for the new Sridevi movie and I used to keep staring in awe at her on the hoardings in the theater compound.
Her beauty and her sex appeal were so strong that it took many many films and
many many years for both us audience and the film industry to realise and recognise the actress in her which was first showcased according to me in the most effective way in ‘Mr. India’ by Shekhar Kapur. Even though many films even in the beginning of her career showed her acting talent right from her debut film, her super stardom kind of brought out only her sex symbol image which was so strong that it blinded everybody to the tremendous talent in her.
Mr. India made the audience discover a new Sridevi primarily because of the way how Shekar Kapur’s aesthetics captured both her extraordinary beauty and her incredible performance.
My journey to Sridevi started when I was preparing for my debut film ‘Shiva’. I used to walk from Nagarjuna’s office in Chennai to a neighbouring street where Sridevi used to live and I used to just stand and watch Sridevi’s house from outside her gate. I just couldn’t believe that the goddess of beauty lives in that stupid looking house. I say stupid because I believed that no man made house deserved to house that beauty called SRIDEVI. I used to so desperately hope to catch a glimpse of her as she went in or out of her house. But sadly to my utter disappointment no such thing ever happened.
And then after ‘Shiva’ released and became a big hit producer Gopal Reddy came to me and asked if I was interested in doing a film with Sridevi. I said “Are you mad or what? I will die to just see her, let alone make a film with her!” Gopal Reddy arranged a meeting with her and took me to meet her at that very same house where I used to stand outside the gate and stare. At around 7.30 in the night we went and as luck would have it there was a power cut in her house. so I was sitting in her living room in candle light along with Gopal Reddy waiting for the angel to appear and my heart was thumping like mad. Her mother told us she was busy packing as she was about to catch a flight to go to Mumbai.
As we were waiting, every once in a while Sridevi was rapidly crossing the living room as she was moving from one room to another room in a rush to finish her packing even as she apologetically smiled at me for the delay. Everytime she was appearing and disappearing in a flash the director in me started slow motioning her and running her backward and forward for my visual pleasure.
Finally she came and sat in the living room, just said a mandatory few lines that she would very much like to work with me, which I am sure she would have said to a host of other directors and then she left for Mumbai. I continued talking to her mother with enormous respect and awe because she actually gave birth to Sridevi.
I went back to my place feeling like I was in the seventh heaven. The way Sridevi sat in front of me in the candle light got imprinted in my mind like an exquisite painting and with her image completely filling both my mind and my heart I started writing Kshana Kshanam.
I wrote Kshana Kshanam with the one and only purpose so as to impress Sridevi. Kshana Kshanam was intended by me as a love letter to her.
Throughout the making of Kshana Kshanam I just couldn’t take my eyes off her charm, her beauty her personality and her demeanor was a new discovery for me. She had an invisible wall around her and she does not let anyone cross that. Behind that wall she maintains her dignity and her self-respect and she never lets anyone inside. Also during the course of working with her and observing her technique of acting I began to understand more and more as a director about the nuances of performances and characterizations and for me she formed the epitome of cinematic acting which I believe is many times more complex and many times more effective than theatre acting.
When I was shooting “Andanantha Ettha Tara Theeram” song in Kshana Kshanam. After a certain shot in which Venkatesh and Sridevi were dancing I said “fantastic” and the dance master asked for one more take. After the shot was done, once again I said “fantastic” and the dance master again asked for one more…
I asked my assistant why he is asking for one more and he said “Sir, you are looking at Sridevi and he is looking at Venkatesh”.
Well, if she was in the frame no matter who else was there and what else was happening I and millions of others used to only look at her.
Her popularity and stardom had to be seen to be believed. We were shooting for the climax in Nandyal for Kshana Kshanam and the whole town came to a standstill when they came to know that Sridevi was in town. Banks, Govt offices, Schools, Colleges everything in town stopped functioning as everyone wanted to see Sridevi.
She stayed in a traveller’s bungalow in Nandyal and at a little distance me and Venkatesh were staying in another bungalow. There used to be a crowd of atleast 10,000 around her bungalow throughout the night just staring at it. There were about 50 tough local guys along with a 100 strong police force who used to continuously guard her.
When we were at location we used to know that Sridevi started from her bungalow to come to location because we used to see a column of dust that was travelling towards us from the distance. The dust was due to the thousands of people running behind her car.
Well anyway to cut short, a very long heart touching story of my feelings towards Sridevi I finished Kshana Kshanam and then went on to make Govinda, Govinda with her and in due course I have seen her going through a lot of personal tragedies like her father’s death and her mother’s mental illness.
The woman who the men of the entire nation desired was suddenly left all alone in the world till Boney Kapoor stepped in to fill the vaccum.
So straight from her super stardom and magazine covers and her dazzling beauty on the silver screen, I saw her in Boney’s house serving tea like an ordinary housewife. I hated Boney Kapoor for bringing that angel from heaven down to being just an ordinary housewife.
I don’t go to Boney’s house these days because I can’t bear to see Sridevi in a realistic house, in a realistic atmosphere and with realistic people around. For me she is like a highly precious diamond which should be seen only in beautiful settings or in exotic locations and only in the surroundings of cinematic brilliance.
Sridevi is the most beautiful and the most sexiest woman God ever created and I think he creates such exquisite pieces of art like her only once in a million years.
So what if Boney has the real Sri in his house…? …. I have her captured as a cinematic goddess in the temple of my mind camera and as a divine angel in the heart of my celluloid dreams.
I thank god for creating Sridevi and I thank Louis Lumiere for creating the movie camera to capture her beauty forever.
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