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Article Hindi

Sridevi had courage to shoot even in war-like situation: Khuda Gawah producer Manoj Desai

Co-actor Shilpa Shirodkar, too, remembered the humility and patience the late actress showed towards Shirodkar who was a newcomer.

Amitabh Bachchan and Sridevi in Khuda Gawah.

Keyur Seta

The nation woke up on Sunday (25 February) morning to the shocking news of the sudden demise of veteran actress Sridevi. Considering how fit she kept herself, the news took quite some time to sink in. Memories from her illustrious career flashed across the minds of the mourners. 

One of her most remembered Hindi films is Mukul Anand’s Khuda Gawah (1992), where she was paired opposite Amitabh Bachchan. The film also starred Nagarjuna, Shilpa Shirodkar, Danny Denzongpa and Vikram Gokhale. 

Sridevi (1963-2018): Chandni fades away

In a conversation with Cinestaan.com, Manoj Desai, the producer of Khuda Gawah, and co-star Shilpa Shirodkar recalled their experiences of working with Sridevi. 

Desai is still to come to terms with the news. “You can make out from my voice. It is very sad for me. It is as if a family member has passed away. The mind has stopped working. Never expected this because she used to keep herself so fit physically. She used to regularly do yoga. Even during the shoot of Khuda Gawah, she used to wake up at 4am for yoga. May her soul rest in peace,” he said. 

Shilpa Shirodkar and Sridevi in Khuda Gawah (1992)

Shirodkar believes nobody can replace her. “Whether she was 16 or 50 [years old], she would look beautiful. Every frame of hers, made you love her. It is such a loss to Indian cinema and to the screen because they will never find anyone like her. She was not someone who had given up on life. She was enjoying every moment and doing superb cinema. Her kid [Jahnvi Kapoor] was now going to be an actor,” she said.

Desai recalls how Sridevi braced the tough conditions they shot Khuda Gawah in. “The film was shot at challenging locations like Jomsom at the peak of the Himalayas where the sun rises at 4am. By 1pm there used to be storms. So, we could shoot only from 5am to 12.30pm. We shot at similar places in Pokhra and Afghanistan. She co-operated and adapted so well at such locations. She and Amitabh Bachchan showed such discipline while shooting,” he added.

In fact, the actress had no qualms even while shooting in relatively dangerous areas. “She showed courage to shoot even in areas where war-like situation was taking place. It was one of the finest films not because I produced it. It ran for a long time and it got such positive reviews. We received all major awards that year for Khuda Gawah,” Desai said.

Sridevi and Nagarjuna in Khuda Gawah

Shirodkar explains that Sridevi was never insecure about her co-stars. “My experience with her was simply memorable. I have had the privilege of working with the legends. They were legends but they never really showed or behaved like stars. They were very humble and accommodating. We have done long outdoors [shoots] together. She was never insecure if the other actor had more prominence in a scene. She was just content being her,” she said.

As a newcomer then, Shirodkar received immense support from Sridevi during the shoot. “She was very helpful. She was a known dancer and I was like a total beginner. But she never made a face due to the number of retakes. She never made a mockery of me. She was always there,” Shirodkar remembered. “I was telling my co-actors yesterday that she was one actor who when the director Mukul sir used to say, ‘action,’ used to instantly be somebody else. Like how you get a current.”

While speaking of the qualities of the late actress, she said, “It was not just a director or cameraman’s treat to have a her in front of the camera but also for people who shared screen with her. There was so much to learn from her. Even her expressions during the dances, you can feel.”