Iconic actor Sridevi passed away due to a massive cardiac arrest in Dubai last night. Her untimely death has shocked the country. Widely regarded as the first female superstar of Hindi cinema, Sridevi had done multiple Tamil, Telugu and Kannada movies before taking the Hindi film industry by storm.
At the peak of her career in 1987, Sridevi took some time off her busy schedule for a chat with the then Principal Correspondent and now Group Editorial Director (Publishing) of India Today magazine, Raj Chengappa. In the interview, Sridevi talks about how she feels when people call her the sex siren of the Hindi film industry, how the Tamil industry perceives her as opposed to how the Hindi film industry sees her, how the real Sridevi is a very homely, simple person and how she would love to settle down eventually.
Q. What do you think of your image as the sex siren of Hindi cinema?
A. I feel very bad. When people come and tell me how beautiful I looked in a film, I don't react. But when they tell me I acted well I feel proud.
Q. But you became number one because of your willingness to bare more than others?
A. If that's the case then whoever reveals a lot should be number one. Why are they not? If I look sexy just wearing a sari, can I help it? There are so many girls who reveal much more but they don't look anything.
Q. You were known in Tamil films for the character roles you played. Why did you switch your image in Hindi films?
A. In Tamil films they love to see me act naturally. But in Hindi films all they want is lot of glamour, richness and masala. My bad luck was that my first big hit in Hindi films turned out to be a commercial one (Himmatwala). When I did a character role in Sadma, the picture flopped. So people started casting me only for glamour roles. But one day I'm going to prove to everyone that I can act also.
Q. Is that day far away?
A. Yes. Everything has changed. I have realised that glamour is important but not vulgarity. Now it is out of the question that 1 would do any revealing shots. 1 would love to do art films without make up. And I would love to do a crying role. But, so far, I am not satisfied as an artiste. I have not done the role where I can say, chalo. at last I have done it.
Q. Do you think you will remain number one for a long time?
A. I can't be number one for life. As a girl, the time is even shorter. I am not going to be a performer, going on year after year. I will never give people a chance to get bored of me. The moment somebody younger is going to take my place, I will quit films. I hate to hang on.
Q. But your colleagues say it is time you played a role that reflects your real character. Something that has moved you deeply.
A. Then there be would no such role to play because my life is routine.
Q. Who is the real Sridevi?
A. Someone very simple. I'm an ordinary person. Nothing very interesting. Just another parents' daughter. Even ordinary girls have style. I don't think I've got that. You see the real Sridevi in the house. I hate to go out for parties. I like being at home with my parents. I'm a very shy person and difficult to get along with.
Q. Has your stardom affected your attitude to life?
A. It doesn't give me a chance to get to know life. Whenever I want a saree or anything, it comes to me. I have never been shopping. But I've got so used to it that even if I get a chance to experience things, I withdraw. I feel very uneasy with anything new. I feel comfortable only with my lifestyle.
Q. Do some of the characters you play influence your life-style?
A. The characters that I play are different from my personal life. The moment I play a role I forget it.
Q. How do you look so innocent despite doing all those daring dances?
A. It is not an act. You can't do that for a whole life. It would look silly and stupid. It is just that I have a baby face that doesn't change.
Q. But in front of the camera you become a totally different person.
A. Because I'm very professional. I don't plan my shot or anything like that. I have never learnt acting. I think it should come from inside.
Q. What would you like to do after you stop acting?
A. Get married and settle down. I love children.