It has been around 50 days that we lost our Chandni, Sridevi. The actress’ untimely death left the entire nation in utter grief and in a state of shock. The very gorgeous, talented and mesmerising diva went away too early.
The entire Bollywood flooded in to mourn her death and her family is still trying hard to cope with the grave loss. Though, slowly and steadily, their lives are pacing back to normalcy. Sridevi’s elder daughter, Janhvi returned to the sets of her debut film just 15 days after her demise. She is also often spotted with younger sister Khushi on day outs.
However, one person who is deeply affected with Sridevi’s demise and is far from being over it, is her bestfriend and ace designer Manish Malhotra. Manish and Sridevi shared a deep friendship and were spotted together at every gathering. Sridevi would never miss a single show of Manish and vice-versa Manish would never miss out to return the love.
Manish was like a family for her. In fact, he also attended Mohit Marwah’s wedding in Dubai where Sridevi and the entire Kapoor clan was there. Ever since Sridevi’s demise, the famous celeb designer keeps posting pictures with her in her memory.
And now, he has penned down a super emotional letter, remembering her friend and describing how they met for the first time and what kind of a persona she had off-the-camera!
Here are some excerpts from the letter!
The first meeting – “She barely spoke”
“I must have been in college when I first watched Himmatwala (1983), and I was instantly enamoured. Be it those twinkling eyes or her poise, I loved everything about Sridevi. I finally met her a few years later, when Rakesh Shrestha, legendary photographer of the time, introduced us. I remember waiting anxiously at Mumbai’s Mehboob Studio as she wrapped up a song sequence in a striking red Amrapali costume alongside Vinod Khanna. She greeted you with genuine kindness, but one couldn’t help notice how reserved she was. She barely spoke, in fact. She, however, came to life when the camera started rolling. It was almost as if the camera was her most intimate friend.
Budding work relationship – “she made you feel your opinion mattered”
It was only in 1993, with Gumrah, that our work relationship really took flight. I recall a time when she tried on an outfit, and it didn’t look quite right. Still new to the industry, I refrained from commenting, but my eyes gave my thoughts away. She coerced the truth out of me. In little ways, she made you feel your opinion mattered, especially when it came from a place of truth.
From iconic actor to dear friend
During Judaai (1997), she went from iconic actor to dear friend. I remember it like it was yesterday—we were in the elevator of a Las Vegas hotel when she confessed she wasn’t sure about working in films anymore. I was so taken by her, I couldn’t believe this could be it. But even when she stopped acting, it was on a happy note—she wanted to get married and start a family. During that 15-year gap, from Judaai to when she returned to the silver screen in English Vinglish (2012), we remained in touch. We became particularly close in the last seven years. Whether attending all my shows or being a part of my niece’s wedding, she always returned the love, loyalty and admiration I had for her.
“Some of the best relationships in my life are a result of my friendship with her”
It’s funny how life comes full circle. I used to make little cholis and ghagras for the girls when they were younger. Now I’m working with Janhvi on her debut. Much like her mother, she’s a bundle of talent and discipline. I was very keen that Karan [Johar] sign her, because when you have good people in your life, you want them to get together. Some of the best relationships in my life are a result of my friendship with her. It was through her that I met Yash Johar (my favourite producer) and his son Karan, who is now my closest friend, and also began longstanding associations with Ram Gopal Varma and Boney Kapoor’s production houses.
“Gossip never entered our conversations”
Now, when I look back, I realise gossip never entered our conversations. We talked about clothes, food, movies—all the good things in life. She never wished ill upon anyone, or remarked upon her contemporaries. When it came to her own work, she treated commercial and art-house cinema with equal grace—it didn’t matter if it was a silly scene, a song or a path-breaking performance. If she committed to something, it deserved respect.
“Even now, so many days later, I still expect my phone to ring, and to hear her discuss an outfit or a project which we can work on together.”
She now leaves behind a legacy of exceptional work. I want the world to remember her as who she was—an iconic actor, an exceptional person, someone who had her mind and her heart in the right place. This is the first time I’ve lost someone so close, and it feels surreal. I’d known her for 28 years. We were at a wedding together and then, out of nowhere, her sister Srilatha was handing me a silk sari for her funeral. I spoke to her the night she passed away. We talked about everything under the sun, from Janhvi’s film, how beautiful Khushi looked at the wedding to even what she had eaten earlier that day. Even now, so many days later, I still expect my phone to ring, and to hear her discuss an outfit or a project which we can work on together.
Thank you Manish for revealing yet another beautiful side of our favourite diva!