Those special 25 minutes that I spent with Sridevi
Sunday morning was not a normal one for all those who are related to Bollywood, especially for a journalist like me. It was 9:30 am I was fast asleep, I received a call from my sister, and she asked me, ‘Do you know Sridevi passed away?’ My reaction was like, ‘Arey, it will just be a death hoax, let me sleep’. I mean who could believe that Sridevi ji passed away, just a couple of days ago I saw her Instagram posts where she was beautifully dressed and was enjoying a family wedding.
My sister replied, ‘Please switch on the TV and see.’ I woke up and before switching on the TV I saw my phone which had some 247 WhatsApp messages, and as soon as I opened it, there were messages in my office group where since 3 am they were chatting about the veteran actress’ death. I didn’t know how to react because just a few months ago, I had met this very humble and charming woman to interview her for her movie ‘MOM’, and today my phone was flooded with the messages of her demise.
I sat numb for the next ten minutes and was recollecting my meeting with her, those 25 minutes that I had spent were surely one of the best moments of my life. There was nothing great that we interacted about or nothing special happened in that interview, but for a guy who had spent his childhood watching Sridevi on the big screen and television it was a big deal to at least get an opportunity to sit next to her.
It was a rainy Sunday (July 2nd2017), along with me other journalists were waiting to interview Sridevi ji. She had gone somewhere and was running late, like almost around one and a half hour to two hours late. But, as soon as she came, the first thing she did was, she came and said SORRY to all of us for being late. She then went on to say that she’d come back in just ten minutes, after freshening up. And yes, she was back in exact ten minutes and we got the interview started. While there are many celebs who come in late, but no one ever thought to apologise. But Sridevi, this gorgeous woman was cut of another element altogether.
Mostly in group print interviews (where around 6-7 journalists sit together to take the interview), every journalist tries to ask the question first or at least in the starting few minutes of the interview, so that their question is not asked by someone else and then the celeb at least answers their question. But, in the interview with Sridevi that didn’t happen. When we all went inside the room and comfortably sat on the chairs, there was a silence for few seconds as everyone was just stunned to see her.
After a few seconds, a senior journalist asked her the first question and the interview started. She very calmly answered all the questions without being hesitant in the slightest. She spoke to us about her movie, her kids and what not. When a journalist asked her about not doing ‘Baahubali’, the PR person interrupted and stopped him from asking the question, but even during that moment Sridevi ji was smiling and looking at the journalist without even being annoyed or angry.
I remember asking her as to which would be her next movie after ‘MOM’ to which she had replied, “Well, you all will come to know. But, definitely it won’t take four years this time that much I can promise you.” Sadly, she is no more with us to fulfil the promise.
Mostly after every interview, journalists click pictures with the celeb. But here the PR person had told us Sridevi ji won’t be doing any pictures. However, when we asked her for pictures, she happily posed with each and every journalist.
While writing this piece today, I still can’t believe that Sridevi ji is no more with us. Those 25 minutes will surely be special for me. Just like her song’s words, “Yeh Lamhe Yeh Pal Hum Barso Yaad Karenge…”
Kapoor & Sons: Caught the plight of homosexuals tenderly and yet made 'coming out' look doable
Kapoor & Sons – Since 1921. The house proudly flaunted that to the world, nestled in the greens of Coonoor. No one knew the darkness that was inside, the demons that were individually dealt with. But then, isn’t every family like that?
Two years have passed by since this Shakun Batra-directorial, story of a dysfunctional family had come to our lives. However, amongst the various themes that tore apart the family and eventually brought it together, one that truly had the power to transform, was that of homosexuality.
Not many know, that the role played by Fawad Khan, that of family’s elder son, a successful author, was actually offered to many A-listers, who turned it down, eventually leading him to step into the shoes of Rahul. And it was, indeed, a very big step on his part. He was venturing out of his territory, a man who has such a huge female-fan following, and comes from a country with religion as its main running philosophy. He did the role and brought such conviction to it that we were forced to stand up and applaud, his courage, and the beauty with which his character was carved.
Since times immemorial, all our memories of gay characters on screen have been that of carelessly effeminate and unimportant roles, which are just there to add a comic element. The stereotype has been high to an extent that often the champions of the same channelise it and promote it, for it is wrapped in the shiny paper of presentation. The biggest example of this was ‘Dostana’, which was an amazing story of friendship, still used homosexuality as humour, as its backdrop. Ironically, it came from the same production house, though nearly eight years before that.
But ‘Kapoor & Sons’ begged to differ here. The character here was real, someone who was hiding himself, for the society, his family. There was surreality to the theme of homosexuality here, which had the power to jar us inside out; and that, it did.
Two scenes from the movie specifically hit me. First one is when Sunita (Ratna Patak Shah) finds out that her ideal elder son, whom she adores and is proud of, is not straight. The aftereffects of the same jolt you, because the reaction is just what an Indian mother gives, in any situation that is beyond her control; uncontrollable anger at the offspring, and then uncontrollable guilt, of blaming herself and her upbringing. The scene is filmed so beautifully, that your eyes sting. The way Fawad’s facade falls and his fear is marked across his face, which is then replaced by the anger of hiding himself for all those years, and mother’s dilemma and hurt, it all comes out in a naked and real manner.
Another sequence is when Rahul (Fawad Khan) comes back home after the showdown with his mother and the death of his father totally uproots whatever sanity his family possessed. He sits with his mother, with whom his last encounter was one of his coming out, and she asks, hesitatingly, about his partner. A subtle way of expressing acceptance, the way they hold hands, without saying anything, it stays with you.
It may not be one masterpiece, but ‘Kapoor & Sons’ will forever remain a favourite for finally breaking the mainstream stereotype of a gay man, in Bollywood. And for that, no matter how many bans, I will forever be waiting for Fawad Khan to come back, and give us more performances; with dare and conviction.
An ode to Sridevi, the queen who inspired the queers long before it became mainstream
“I am a kid from the 90s but still can’t forget those days when, me-myself was not out and proud about my preferences. And inside my own sweet world would dance in front of the mirror on many songs, but majorly on ‘Hawa Hawai’ and ‘Main Teri Dushman, Dushman Tu Mera’. These songs were just not tunes for me, it made me feel exactly what I was; a QUEERby birth”.
The news of the legendary diva Sridevi being no more with us is still hard to believe, as she was part of my and every queer’s childhood memories. While in the late 90s my bunch of friends would idolise a star from the West as their gay icon, me being a full-fledged Bollywood fanatic was in love with Sridevi and she was a diva I used to worship (and will forever). Her golden costume and perfectly done makeup in ‘Hawa Hawai’ made me feel, “Yes! There is someone like me out there who loves bling and all things loud.” Her feather headgear in one of the songs from ‘Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja’, touched my drag Queen‘s soul. One of the lines from her song ‘Hawa Hawai’ which is ‘Soorat Hi Maine Aisi Paayi’ transported me into a world where I thought that there is someone narcissist just like me. Sridevi’s charm was on my mind and the feminine side in me just wanted to be a replica of her.
The gone actress has not only given a lot to the Indian cinema, but her sass and talent of naturally moulding herself into any character gave her an upper hand in whatever she used to do. When many gay men were struggling and were confused about their sexual orientation they found a connection to their on-going pain in Sridevi’s roles. Whether it was Sridevi as a meek Anju and ferocious Manju fighting for everything wrong in ‘ChaalBaaz’ (1989), Pooja’s mutiny against the everlasting societal conditions in ‘Lamhe’ (1991), Seema’s confidence-filled and fearless dance in the ‘Mr. India’ (1987) song ‘Hawa Hawaai’ or her role of a naagin (snake) coming out to the world about her dual identity in ‘Nagina’ (1986), Sri’s roles had a deep connection and were etched in every GAY man’s mind.
And how can one miss ‘Kate Nahin Kat Te’ song of Sridevi from ‘Mr. India’, where she owned the song and made every gay guy’s dream to dance on it once with his man. This particular song was wild, seductive and equal parts bold. Sridevi draped in a sky-blue coloured saree with a matching bindi and of course adding fuel to the fire was her dancing moves. Even at the end of the song, a fully wet in rainwater, Sridevi stretching herself on a pile of hay – ‘Tumne jo li angdayi hai’ – where the diva nibbles on straws with a drenched fire in her eyes, leaving Mr. Kapoor to chivalrously lie on a distant haystack.
While mostly when the film fraternity was in a zone where feminine men were used as a tool to add fun elements on the silver screen, Sridevi was a ray of hope for the LGBTQ community. She was like a powerful symbol for the QUEERS. Her role resonated each and every gays struggle, and also echoed their dysphoria into her characters. And with her, all the queer children surpassed the narrow-minded stereotypes which they were labelled with. Lastly, she might be gone, but the colourful rainbow universe she opened for all the fellow LGBTQ people remains there intact..
Hail the QUEEN! RIP Sridevi.