This is the post for people who aren’t sure if they know who Sridevi was, who she married, who her children were, and so on. If you want an unbiased (as much as possible) description of the basic facts of her life, this is it.
It occurs to me that there will be a lot of posts and comments in the next few days that might make Sridevi’s life look either better or worse than it was. As I said in my obituary post, she was a deeply private woman so there is much that is unknown not just by the general public, but even the film community. However, that has never stopped people from talking. I don’t want to talk about her personal life in her obituary post, because that wouldn’t be appropriate. But I also want to do what I can to stem the gossip and changes to her life story that will be appearing over the next few days.
Sridevi was a major star as a child in Tamil and Telugu films. She began working as an adult actress at 13 and immediately became a major star as an adult as well. As a teenager, supposedly, a young Hindi producer Boney Kapoor flew down to meet with her, but that meeting went nowhere and they didn’t end up working together.
A few years later, rumors started flying of a romance between her and fellow major southern star Mithun Chakraborty. Mithun was several years older than her and already married. And already scandalous, his wife had left her first husband Kishore Kumar for him. Mithun never divorced his first wife, they are still together today, but it was rumored that he secretly married and then divorced Sridevi.
(Mithun and Sridevi)
Around the time of their “divorce” Sridevi began working in the Hindi industry, although she never stopped working in the south as well. In the Hindi industry, she worked closely with Boney Kapoor and his family, was welcomed by them. In the south, she began to work regularly with a young visionary director Ram Gopal Verma who became obsessed with her image onscreen and built amazing movies around her.
And then, in 1996, Sridevi and Boney Kapoor suddenly announced they were married. Boney’s first wife and his children continued to live with his parents while he was thrown out of the house. The Kapoor family is also deeply private, but it could not be entirely hidden that this was a rupture in the family. But not a major rupture, she acted with her now brother-in-law Anil Kapoor after marriage in her last film, Judaai.
Sridevi gave birth to their first daughter, Jhanvi less than a year after the wedding. And then their daughter Khushi a few years later. She became primarily a mother after that. she would occasionally be seen with her husband and daughters out and about, but no more than that. Until her daughters became teenagers, at which point she began performing at awards shows again. And eventually picked her “come-back” movie, a brilliant human story with her playing an average middle-aged and middle-class housewife, English/Vinglish. The audiences loved her and immediately responded, and she was a star again. And we all eagerly began waiting for the launch of her oldest daughter, Jhanvi.
Meanwhile, there was a shadow on all this. Boney’s first wife died of cancer shortly before the debut of her son Arjun in his first movie. Arjun was forced in interview after interview to dredge up the whole painful series of events. And there was no way of hiding that the family had never reconciled. Arjun was clear that he was still close to his father, and did not claim an ill will to Sridevi, but also said that his half sisters and his stepmother had no place at all in his life or in the life of his full sister.
No one can really know what happened exactly 22 years ago. The most scandalous version has Sridevi becoming pregnant while being sponsored and protected by Boney’s wife, possibly even while living in their house. The most romantic version has Boney in love with her since that first meeting years earlier, forced into an arranged marriage with another woman but never forgetting her. But it is clear that Boney’s family considers him, and his new wife Sridevi, to be at fault. And the death of his first wife just served to make it more painful. Now, Sridevi is gone. Boney is alone with his 4 children. His daughters have lost their mother just as his son and daughter lost their mother. Even more striking, Jhanvi lost her mother while preparing for her debut just as Arjun lost his.
So that is what will be in the air during this time of grief. How will the family pull together? What scandals will be dredged up and what ghosts put to rest?
(an earlier version of this story focused on the Boney Kapoor side of it is available here)
Mithun was not “southern” right?
He was kind of everything, like sridevi
Mithun is Bengali but he settled down in Ooty.So as Margaret said, he could be considered both.It’s a terrible that she didn’t live to see her daughter’s first movie.The 3rd time that this is happening.Nargis also died while Sanjay Dutt’s debut movie was being made.This could blow up to be a bonafide Bollywood superstition.
Sanjay was the first person I thought of when I heard the news. And then Arjun. At least with Arjun and Sanjay the illness was known and the death was always likely before the film came out. This is just completely unexpected.
On Sun, Feb 25, 2018 at 4:37 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:
Her daughters were always around her – red carpet events, weddings, everywhere – can’t imagine what they are going through. Heart breaking.
It does seem like she was more than just the primary parent, she was really 90% of their parent and Boney only 10%. Which is fine, some families work that way, but it makes this loss that much more terrible, there is no one else in their lives who even comes close to being what she was.
On Sun, Feb 25, 2018 at 5:01 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:
The one big news I remember seeing was about Sridevi being the original choice for Sivagami. Raajamouli spoke about her(rather Boney Kapoor’s)unreasonable demands of profit sharing,salary etc. She responded to it & Rajamouli ended it saying it’s all a misunderstanding or something to that effect. Also heard about a tussle with the producers of Puli about settlement of salary dues. Both had direct involvement of Boney who seemed to be doubling up as her manager.
Hmm. Nothing necessarily wrong with any of that, actresses are routinely underpaid and Sridevi did deserve to make the most she was owed. But I wonder if it also explains why she was in comparatively few films since her return? Or perhaps it is the other way around, she didn’t want to be in more than a few films, so they insisted on a large salary and just picked the films that could match it.
On Sun, Feb 25, 2018 at 5:29 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:
“Actresses are routinely underpaid” doesn’t apply to Sridevi, who was routinely paid more than her heroes.
I saw Rajamouli’s apology to Sridevi after her appearance on a TV show, but I never saw anything from him about her supposed demands (and believe me, I watched every video that was out there from anyone during Bahubali times). He did say, during the music launch for BB1, that he originally wanted Sridevi for the role, but now he apologizes to Ramya Krishna for thinking anyone could do it better than her.
I believe Boney Kapoor always acted as her manager after her parents died (they used to manage her before). Sridevi herself never entered into the financial negotiations, I think. I doubt she would even know how to do it.
Open heart with RK is the chat session where he mentioned about Sridevi being considered for the role & her monetary demands. Link below:
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