Sridevi is all rearing to be back with her next film Mom after a four year gap. The actress spoke about her character, her co-stars, director and her daughters, Jhanvi and Khushi
Why it took you such a long time to sign a film after English Vinglish?
I got busy with my kids, they are girls, and they are growing up. I did English Vinglish, when they were in school. R. Balki and Gauri Shinde are Boney ji’s friend, so we planned to shoot the film during my daughter’s vacation in June and July. Then my elder daughter went to higher standards and then they went to America for studies. Boney ji told me to listen to this story. The story concept is interesting and I really liked it. Then he said we will start working on it, so I told him you start working on the script and then narrate it to me. It took them one year to develop it, then they signed director Ravi Udyawar and we met again. Two years went in finalising things. So technically I am coming back to films after two years.
Was there any film which was offered to you and you couldn’t do it?
There are many films which came to me, but there are many reasons I didn’t do it. I normally don’t like to talk about why I couldn’t do a particular movie. Because somebody has done the role and the film has released. So why should I sit and talk about it. My elder daughter was in a school, and she was going to the higher level. At this level, seniors generally rag freshers. There were many issues that she could have faced. As a mother I wanted to be at home, available for her during this period. I wanted to keep a check on how she's coping up etc. She would say, 'Mamma, I am scared. They might tease me.' So I wanted to be there for her at that point of time. So one has to decide one's priority. Even if you like a script, you want to be part of it, you have to sacrifice to be a mother first.
How much could you relate to your character in Mom?
Playing this character was unnerving, disturbing to be in that mother’s situation. Only as a mother I could feel that it isn’t a pleasant situation to be in.One quality which I could relate to is that she is very strong person, giving hundred per cent to everything she is doing. Ravi and Manish Malhotra have worked on my look in the film. I tried to be in the character’s shoes as much as possible, and followed Ravi’s vision.
Did you give any inputs during the making?
We were all together in it. I am not scared of anyone though. I will give inputs and suggestions whenever I feel like. Jhanvi had suggested Adnan Siddiqui’s name for father’s role. We wanted someone who could look fresh and suitable for the role. She saw his photos and showed it to us and we finalised him. We kept giving suggestion but Ravi has so much patience, he listens to everyone. I used to get upset sometimes, but he is too smart, he would listen to it and do what he wanted to do.
How was it to work with him?
He is an amazing person. I can’t imagine anybody else directing this film except him. He is so involved in his work. This film is very dear to him since it is his first film. He made our work easier for us. But once you see the film you won’t feel it is his first film. He is a rare combination of someone who knows modern technique and knows everything about Indian cinema and family values, sentiments. It really worked well for this film.
Can you tell us about Pakistani actors Sajal Ali and Adnan Siddiqui’s characters?
It was wonderful working with them. Sajal is a sweetheart, very professional, talented. I really miss them not being here with us for promotions Adnan was apt for this role, which is dignified and quiet, strong. Sajal has done a superb job. They will promote the film in their own way. I feel bad that they can't be part of promotions here, because they also contributed so much for the film. I would have been happy if they could come and promote it here. I also feel I am lucky to work with two talented actors, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Akshaye Khanna. Nawaz is a great actor; his get up was so good that on first day of the shoot with him I did not recognise him. I asked the director where is he, when he stood next to me. He would spend four hours on his make-up and it was really tough for him. But he would never complain that he is tired or would leave early. Akshaye has such a strong performer that if he is in the frame I am sure nobody else will notice other actors.
What kind of bond do you share with Jhanvi and Khushi in real life?
We are like friends; they don’t really treat me like a mom. I don’t keep a check on them because I feel then there is no trust in the relationship. I am very lucky that they know what is right and what is wrong, they know their limits. Out of concern I call them if they are out with friends or something. I just ask them where are you, car is working or not and come back on time, where are you eating. Throughout the day even if I am shooting, I keep calling them. Boney ji too calls them when I am shooting. They don’t go for night outs but if they do, then either one of us will wait for them to come home. This is not in our system, Until they come home and wish me good night with a kiss, I cannot sleep.
Does it bother you as parent that every other day there is some buzz about Jhanvi?
Yes, recently. she got very upset with some rumours. She was lying on the bed, sulking. I went up to her and told her, 'Welcome to this world. Be ready for this if you have chosen this as a career.' Somebody mentioned in the papers that she was constantly following someone at a party. She was like, 'I was with Gauri aunty (Shinde). How could they write this when it is not true?' That entire day she spent at home, she didn't even attend her class. She was upset.
Is there any update on Mr India 2?
I think it is too early to talk about it, people always come to my husband and ask him or me when will the part two happen. It will definitely happen, because the way we are seeing the reaction we want it to happen. We have not reached till the stage of casting.