…In SRIDEVI’s Own Words.

Stardust (English) - - COVER STORY -

“THE IN­CI­DENTS THAT SHAPED MY LIFE AND MADE ME WHAT I AM TO­DAY!”

When ‘STAR­DUST’ asked me to write down some of my most per­sonal thoughts and feel­ings, I de­cided to make a note of all the in­ter­est­ing in­ci­dents that have shaped my life and made me what I am to­day…

“My first mem­ory of en­ter­ing a stu­dio was when I was four years old. It was such a huge place and I was so fright­ened that I would keep cling­ing on to my mother all the time. I was close to her from the very be­gin­ning. Maybe that’s why even now when I’m shoot­ing I feel quite com­forted when she ac­com­pa­nies me to the sets. I re­mem­ber the first role I played in a Tel­ugu film was of ‘Lord Mu­ru­gan’. I just did as I was told. I wasn’t ner­vous or afraid be­fore the camera as long as my mother was there in those days. I used to get ex­cited when I saw my pho­to­graphs in the lo­cal mag­a­zines. I would keep look­ing at them over and over again. But what thrilled me even more was see­ing my­self larger than life, on a city hoard­ing at one of the mar­ket cross roads. I ran and told all my friends in school about it. They didn’t be­lieve me at first, but soon they too saw it for them­selves. Our rel­a­tives (from my fa­ther’s side) didn’t quite like the idea of my act­ing. ‘How can you make your daugh­ter a film ac­tress’, they said. My fa­ther too had some doubts. But my mother was very keen that I con­tinue and since I seemed to en­joy it, they grad­u­ally stopped ob­ject­ing. Though I must ad­mit, at that age, I didn’t quite un­der­stand what films were all about and what act­ing in films re­ally meant. To be very hon­est, I can’t re­call much of my days as a child star. Life was a rou­tine of go­ing to the stu­dio, do­ing my make-up and giv­ing my shot. Do you know in those days I was the only child star to have a make-up man? When I look back into the past, I can rec­ol­lect one par­tic­u­lar in­ci­dent that shook me ter­ri­bly. It hap­pened while I was shoot­ing for a Tel­ugu film, along with ten to twelve other chil­dren. We were re­quired to play in a lake, rather have a bath and then come out on the shore. We had given roughly four-five takes be­fore the shot was fi­nally okayed. I stepped out of the wa­ter, put on my clothes and sat a few me­tres

I was so fright­ened that I would keep cling­ing on to my mother all the time. I was close to her from the very be­gin­ning.”

away with my mother, await­ing fur­ther in­struc­tions. Sud­denly, some­one no­ticed that there was one more set of clothes ly­ing on the grass, un­worn… and as he des­per­ately looked around he re­alised it meant only one thing – a child had drowned! Every­one was fright­ened. How would we in­form his par­ents? The di­rec­tor sent a man to call the boy’s mother im­me­di­ately, while we waited anx­iously. In some time, the mother of the child come all decked up in a beau­ti­ful sa­ree, with flow­ers in her hair. She prob­a­bly thought the di­rec­tor had liked her son’s act­ing so much that he had called her to con­grat­u­late her per­son­ally. Or maybe even to sign him for an­other film. The scene that fol­lowed was hor­ri­ble. The di­rec­tor be­gan by telling her how her son had met with an ac­ci­dent… And be­fore he could fin­ish, the lady screamed, ‘where is my son? I want to see my son’. The di­rec­tor re­mained si­lent. The lady be­came hys­ter­i­cal. She pulled her hair flung the flow­ers away, tore her

My sis­ter Sri­lata has been with me from the very be­gin­ning. She has be­come so much a part of my life that now she’s be­come ex­actly like me.”

sa­ree, banged her fists and rolled on the ground: cry­ing, scream­ing and shout­ing at the same time. It was ter­ri­ble. I don’t think I’d ever for­get that sight. Some­how it has helped me grow up. It’s so strange but I didn’t even re­alise when I be­came a hero­ine from a child artiste. One fine day, a di­rec­tor came home to meet me and all of a sud­den asked my mother if I’d ever worn a sa­ree. My mother draped me in one and the fol­low­ing day, I was signed for the film. The first day we re­ported on the sets every­one from the spot boy to the tech­ni­cians be­gan con­grat­u­lat­ing my mother. She was puz­zled. Till some­one said, ‘Con­grat­u­la­tions, your daugh­ter has be­come a hero­ine’! I was eleven years old then! In the Tel­ugu ver­sion of ‘Anurag’ I was to play the role that Moushami played. The only thing funny was that the little boy who I had to mother was my age! And both of us had a lot of fun play­ing and run­ning around the stu­dio, in be­tween shots. The days he didn’t re­port for shoot­ing I’d feel very lonely and bored with noth­ing to do. One per­son I truly hero-wor­shiped was my fa­ther. I think I was more fond of my fa­ther than my mother. I missed him a lot. Maybe be­ing a lawyer he was busy with his court cases. One day I pestered him to take me along to court. I wanted to see what it would be like. My, what an ar­gu­men­ta­tor he was! Loud and ag­gres­sive, hit­ting out at his op­po­nent, who was ac­tu­ally a good friend of the fam­ily. It was nearly an hour and a half later that the case came to an end. And then, what do I see? My fa­ther walk­ing to­wards his op­po­nent, putting an arm around his shoul­ders, laugh­ing with him, like they were the best of friends. I couldn’t quite be­lieve what I saw. How could a man be such a lov­ing fa­ther at home and be­have so dif­fer­ently out­side? Of course now I can un­der­stand, be­cause I am in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion to­day. My glam­orous im­age is quite dif­fer­ent from the real-life per­son I am at home. In fact no di­rec­tor has ever pro­jected me even re­motely close to my true self in any of my pic­tures. I’ve

Some­one told my mother, ‘Con­grat­u­la­tions, your daugh­ter has be­come a hero­ine’! I was eleven years old then!”

al­ways been given chaalu, care­free, fun lov­ing kind of roles when in re­al­ity I’m quite the op­po­site – a very quiet and sober girl. But then why should I show this other side of my­self to the out­side world? They like me as they see me, they’re only in­ter­ested in view­ing that part of my per­son­al­ity. Though, I agree that some­times bits and pieces of a star’s life­style are read with more in­ter­est, the peo­ple be­gin to iden­tify them­selves with their favourite idol – and that’s the rea­son why I do dis­close some of my likes and dis­likes. Like I said be­fore, I like straw­berry ice-creams and milk shakes and love to watch video films in my free time. Hon­estly, I’m quite a bor­ing per­son. I know it. But I don’t want to change ei­ther. I’m happy the way I am, my fam­ily is happy with me, so why should I bother about any­one else’s opin­ion? I am here to work. And not for any­thing else, I don’t even mix with my co-stars ex­cept for the cus­tom­ary, ‘hello, how are you’. Talk­ing about my ca­reer, would you be­lieve it, I started off with flops! Not

I only wish I could re­main like this for­ever. Had it not been for my fam­ily, I would have never reached this po­si­tion in the in­dus­try.”

one, or two, but three!! But I have never strug­gled to get films. I just kept working on the few films I had signed and slowly but surely, some of my films be­gan do­ing well. Now I’ve reached a stage where I am not threat­ened by any other star. Frankly, I’ve got just a few films on hand, lesser than the other ac­tresses, but I wanted it that way. I only wish I could re­main like this for­ever. Had it not been for my fam­ily, I would have never reached this po­si­tion in the in­dus­try. And it’s not only my par­ents, but also my sis­ter Sri­lata who has helped me a lot. She has been with me from the very be­gin­ning. She has be­come so much a part of my life that now she’s be­come ex­actly like me. We almost think alike. So much so she doesn’t re­ally have an iden­tity of her own. I re­mem­ber some three years ago when I had met with an ac­ci­dent and had frac­tured my leg. I had to keep the plas­ter and bandages for six whole months. But the day the bandages were to be re­moved, my mother was afraid, so was my aunt and me too since we didn’t know what a raw wound be like. Ex­cept for Sri­lata. She said she’d be with me. And she was. She held my hand, stood by me and com­forted me. Since we are so close to each other, I think Sri­lata and I will get mar­ried to­gether. At least that is what my fa­ther wants. I pre­fer an ar­ranged mar­riage. Af­ter all it isn’t al­ways nec­es­sary to love some­body be­fore you marry him, you can al­ways love him af­ter mar­riage too. Maybe in a few years time we will set­tle down. And in the mean­while I’ll spend my time working and dream­ing of my own fu­ture house which will be like the one we now have in Madras -with plenty of green­ery and the sea very close to it …”

...with sis­ter Sri­lata

...with par­ents

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