“Sridevi told me that she no longer plans to work, I had a lump in my throat”: Manish Malhotra remembers the icon
“There was a simplicity about her that I found so beautiful and wonderful,” famed designer Manish Malhotra said, recalling her close camaraderie with late actor Sridevi. Fans around the world celebrated Sridevi’s 58th birthday, while remembering his work and life on Friday. The actor died in 2018.
Malhotra has more to remember. The fashion guru had an association with Sridevi that dates back 25 years. He first met her when the star was filming for Pathar Ke Insan (1990). Quite quickly, he landed his first project proper, designing the look of Sridevi in Gumrah (1993).
Speaking to indianexpress.com, Malhotra started out as a big fan of Sridevi. “The first time Rakesh Shrestha took me to meet her, she was filming for Pathar Ke Insan at Mehboob Studio. I had just started in the cinema, so I was very excited to meet Sridevi. I’m talking about the year 1990. He introduced me as a young designer and told me to do a photoshoot. I came back with some references, I even gave some. She told me to do a continuity sweater for Khuda Gawah (1992).
Malhotra was called by Sridevi to Chennai to also conceive for Chiranjeevi. “This is the first time that I meet Chiranjeevi sir. Then I didn’t hear from him for a year and a half. I wondered if she liked my job.
Malhotra, who was trying to make her way into Bollywood at the time, got a call from producer Yash Johar of the Sridevi benchmark. They called the young designer for a photoshoot. It was for Gumrah, Sridevi’s critically acclaimed film. “They asked for two very rock clothes that Sridevi wanted me to do. I send them to Madras. But I had no reaction. I kept wondering if I would ever have the chance to meet this phenomenal actor again.
But to Malhotra’s happiness, Sridevi called her one fine day and told her that she wanted him to do Gumrah for her. “I was really excited. I said it’s gonna be a big movie, so why not work on the look. I said keep the hair short and she liked the idea. This is how our bond began.
According to Malhotra, until then Sridevi wore a lot of feathers and jewelry, but “what I brought him was a breath of fresh air, of youth.” The designer said he dressed the younger Sridevi, which he thinks she enjoyed.
Manish Malhotra and Sridevi have also collaborated on films like Judaai and Laadla. And then Sridevi decided to quit everything and raise his daughters. Walking through the past, he shared, “It was the last day of filming Judaai in Las Vegas. I still remember we going down the elevator. She told me that I no longer plan to work. I had a lump in my throat. And I kept thinking why I feel like this. It means somewhere where I really got attached to her. I think I got attached to her professionalism, to the way she gave respect. She never mentioned anyone. I think I got along really well with that. She was focused, working hard. We never chatted about anyone. It was always a matter of work.
Malhotra remained in contact with Sridevi even after leaving the cinema. In fact, the iconic actor has walked the ramp several times for him and attended his shows. “I remember going to see when Janhvi was born. I remember seeing Khushi in the hospital. She called me here and there. For 15 years she didn’t really work, but I was in contact with her.
Sridevi’s untimely demise in February 2018 shook all of Bollywood. Today Malhotra claims to have a special bond with Sridevi’s daughters Janhvi Kapoor and Khushi Kapoor too. He even designs clothes for them and is seen at family gatherings.
“These are the girls of today. They think differently, they have so much love from their parents. They have so many qualities that Madame Sridevi had. I am sure they miss her every day because she was such a loving and dedicated mother and also a friend to them. What happened is really sad. They are doing well. They understand that you have to be professional, work hard, stay focused, that’s life, ”Malhotra told us.
Calling the two “calm and observant,” Malhotra added, “They are like sponges, they absorb information. The bond I shared with Sridevi ji continues with his daughters and I think it must stay forever.
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