What Sridevi's Chandni co-star Rishi Kapoor writes about the actress in his memoir, Khullam Khulla
Apart from interesting anecdotes about working with Sridevi, Rishi Kapoor writes of how she was the only actress he worked with who came close to being perfect
Rishi Kapoor’s autobiography Khullam Khulla is a no-holds barred account of an actor, who for a major part of his career, remained in the shadow of action stars who ruled the roost in the '70s and '80s. Apart from anecdotes related to his films and co-actors, the autobiography also delves into the lives of people who impacted his. Needless to say, the book also finds mention of Sridevi. Rishi and Sridevi worked together in more than half a dozen films, of which one remains in cans. Two among these went on to be blockbusters — Nagina and Chandni.
Rishi in his book fondly recalls his first meeting with the versatile actress when he met her on the sets of Harmesh Malhotra’s Nagina. It was also an era when Sridevi was one from a lot of actors who were slightly reluctant to work with him because of he'd had a string of failures in Dosti Dushmani, Ek Chadar Maili Si and Sitamgar. Sridevi, on the other hand, had just delivered a super success with Karma. Rishi Kapoor candidly admits that he had hit a plateau at that time but she was gracious enough to work with him in Nagina.
It was during the shoot of Nagina that Rishi also encountered one of his most embarrassing moments. Rishi recalls that it was during the shooting of a song that the magazine of the camera ran out and thus they had no option but to remain in the same position till the magazine was refilled and camera started rolling again. According to Rishi, it’s an extremely awkward moment for actors. In the book he has mentioned the conversation that took place with Sridevi during that particular scene; Sri told him, "Sir, I have seen your Khel Khel Mein four times". Rishi — a gregarious actor with whom Sri had only exchanged greetings till that point — was shocked. It was one of the only conversations they would have while working on the film.
Rishi further writes that he got to know Sridevi better during the shoot of Chandni. The relationship between the two had moved beyond the usual ‘namaste’ and ‘good night’. During the shoot, Sri opened up to him — a far cry from her usual reclusive and inhibited behaviour. Rishi Kapoor gives credit to Sridevi for making some of the scenes from the film memorable — these were actually improvised on set. He also reveals that Sridevi picked up some nuances of method acting after working with Kamal Haasan on Sadma. In another interview, Rishi had pointed out that it was fabulous how Sri had sung a Hindi song for Chandni despite Hindi not being her mother tongue. He states that Sri remains one of the few actresses he encountered during his film career who came close to being perfect — be it in songs, comic timing or emotional sequences.
Khullam Khulla does briefly touch on Sridevi's personal life as well. Rishi Kapoor says he was among the initial few people who knew of Sri's relationship with producer Boney Kapoor. He recalls that it was during a song shoot in Goa when they both were staying at the Taj: Rishi saw Boney Kapoor from afar and enquired about his arrival at the reception. The hotel's GM had been a classmate of Rishi's and was able to look up the information for him. No one had registered under the name of Boney Kapoor at the hotel, but there was an 'Achal Kapoor'. Rishi points out that Achal is Boney's real first name.
Rishi also wrote that Sri was pregnant during their Goa schedule and he found out when the 'dress man' revealed he had been instructed to alter all her clothes. The director of the film was given special instructions to not include shots of Sri below the waist. Rishi concludes his mention of Sridevi in Khullam Khulla by saying that she was a highly intelligent actor, professional to the core, and wonderful to work with.
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