Few weeks back we have posted about Sridevi's future films and one of them was Balki's project with Amitabh Bachchan. News about this project has resurfaced again in the media. Reports are suggesting that both Amitabh Bachchan & Sridevi have given their verbal agreement to do the film in the past. Nothing is confirmed though as Balki is currently busy with his film with Arjun Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor. Sri & Big B's film should be expected to start anytime next year after the project is announced by Balki himself. Their last film Khuda Gawah in leading roles was an epic film and this one for sure is expected to be a grand one too.
of course we all know that Sridevi worked with Sanjay Dutt in one film that is Gumrah, but have you wondered before why they never worked in the 1980s? Sanjay Dutt was paired with many actresses from the 1980s be it Padmini Kolhapure, Anita Raj, Amrita Singh, Meenakshi Sheshadri, Madhuri Dixit, Mandakini, Jaya Prada, Farha, Sonam, Rati Agnihotri, Tina Munim & others but never with the No.1 actress of the 80s decade Sridevi?
Well, the answer is there and probably some of you know it. Maybe there are others who don't know about it hence we will explain as the story was told by Sanjay Dutt himself in one of his interviews to Filmfare magazine. Sridevi's side of story is unknown because she never talks about what happens behind the cameras.
The incident goes back to 1983 when Sridevi was shooting for Himmatwala. Those days as Sanjay said were not his best days and he was not proud of them. He was hooked on alcohol and drugs most of the time. A friend told him about this chand ka tukda girl (Sridevi) working with Jeetendra. Sanjay went to the sets to see this girl while he was very high! The shooting was outdoors and Sridevi was in her trailer. He knocked the door and Sridevi opened the door. Sanjay says he cannot remember exactly what he said and how he behaved but it was not a good moment and Sridevi was horrified and immediately shut the door. That was the first impression Sridevi got from him. A not good one. We don't know if there were movies they were offered together but what we know that if Sridevi was signed as the heroine of a film Sanjay Dutt would not be the hero!
In the end of 1980s when Sridevi was signed for Zameen, she was the first actor who signed the film before all the male actors of the film, Vinod Khanna, Sanjay Dutt & Rajnikanth. The film makers assured her that she will not be having scenes with Sanjay Dutt & that he is paired with Madhuri Dixit. So there was no problem. But that film got shelved due to problems and never saw the light!
After that there was the chance of working together in Khuda Gawah, a movie which Sridevi & Amitabh Bachchan signed in 1988. So many changes happened in the cast and crew of that film. Sanjay Dutt and Farha were casted but they walked out eventually and were replaced by Nagarjuna and Shilpa Shirodkar. Sridevi by that time did not mind working with Sanjay as this film was very important to her. Sanjay Dutt shot many scenes for the film but was very uncomfortable on the sets because of the Jumma Chumma (Hum) & Tamma Tamma (Thanedaar) controversy. Amitabh Bachchan was not happy that Bappi Lahiri copied his film tune and also claimed that he was the first that composed it. Even choreographer Saroj Khan was kicked out of the film due to her attitude problem and she was betting that Tamma Tamma was to be the bigger hit which did not happen. Amitabh and the film makers decided it would be best if she is out of the whole project. Later Saroj was brought back to choreograph one song after Sridevi insisted on having her back.
In this video you can see Amitabh Bachchan talking about the whole issue.
Many don't know that Jumma Chumma is originally an African song that Laxmikant Pyarelal composed specifically for Amitabh Bachchan & Sridevi's starrer Ram Ki Seeta Shyam Ki Geeta. Ramesh Sippy asked the music director to compose a grand and catchy song that suits the No.1 actor and the No.1 actress to be presented in the mahurat of the film. It is said that Amitabh & Sridevi even shot a portion of the song, but unfortunately the film got shelved. Luckily we have seen both the superstars dancing together to the song in their London concert.
Then the last chance was Mahesh Bhatt's Gumrah. Mahesh in one of his interviews denied that Sridevi ever asked him to change the hero of the film. He even said that he personally spoke to Sridevi and she clearly told him that she did not mind working with Sanjay Dutt. Gumrah was a wonderful film and all critics praised the on screen chemistry between Sridevi and Sanjay Dutt. Sajnay Dutt in another interview said that with Sridevi there was only Hi and Hello on the sets and no more communication. He said that even in the last chasing scene where he and Sridevi were holding hands and running when the director said stop Sri moved her hand away from him very fast. He said that she was probably thinking that he is still on drugs and that he does not blame her.
Sanjay Dutt is very fond of Sridevi. In one of his interviews again with Filmfare he put her together with his mom Nargis as the best actresses of India. He also chose her as the most beautiful woman in the world. She was the only Indian lady he chose when he was asked this. One of Sanjay Dutt's all time favorite Bollywood films is Sridevi's Chaalbaaz! So all this shows how much he is in awe of her.
Sridevi on her side was among the first who expressed her distress when Sanjay Dutt was arrested in the early 1990s she even joined with other actors to show her support for Sanajy Dutt. The below picture shows Sridevi standing beside Raveena Tandon and many others in support of her colleague.
Sridevi & Sanjay Dutt might never act together again, but their film together Gumrah is one beautiful film that has a repeated watching value for all the fans. Both gave their best and the film is still remembered after so many years.
Below you can watch another video explaining about the Jumma Chumma & Tamma Tamma controversy
This title once was the cover story of one of the magazines 30 years ago in late 80s. The story was about how other heroines look up to Sridevi's body of work, how they admire her performances, how much they wish that they had similar roles and how every interview of other heroines was incomplete without mentioning the name Sridevi! Her name was always brought up be it by the host or the heroine who was interviewed. She was the standard of perfection. If a heroine was to be evaluated then critics, filmmakers and public too would put her up against Sridevi and evaluate the new girl!! Thats how Sridevi was and the story today is not any different!
Sri is still the one or at least the most actress that gets mentioned when heroines are asked about role model or dream role! None of her rivals or to be precise media made rivals ever get mentioned the way Sridevi does. They cannot compete in that area at all.
Few days ago DnaIndia.com had this article under the title "Celebrities pick the iconic roles they would love to play" and no surprise Sridevi's name was mentioned by two of the actresses. Here what they said:
Sushmita Sen picked: Shashi Godbole (English Vinglish)
"I bow down to Sridevi when I see films like English-Vinglish. She is one of the reasons I become an actress. I would have loved to do something like that."
Alia Bhatt Picked: Anju/Manju (ChaalBaaz), Benazir (Khuda Gawah)
"I am not sure I will be able to do it, but I would live to play Sridevi in Chaalbaaz. I saw the film recently and I was bowled over by her sheer talent. She played both diametrically opposite roles so beautifully. Another film I was very impressed with was Khuda Gawah. I did a horse riding sequence for Shandaar recently and I was so scared, even after I underwent all that training, In Khuda Gawah, she has so many horse-riding sequences and she seems so much at ease. I don't think I can do justice to any of her roles but I would like to reprise her on the big screen."
Wonderful what both of them said about Sri and her performances. Both have also been added to what others say section.
Heer Ranjha was one of Sridevi's films in 1992. This film was the last film where Sri was directed by Harmesh Malhotra. He was one of Sri's favorite directors and she was his favorite hero. Yes, not heroine! Sridevi used to be a hero in Harmesh Malhotra's films be it Nagina, Sherni, Nigahen, Banjaran or Heer Ranjha. Harmesh Malhotra even went on to say "Other directors make films for Amitabh Bachchan. He is their hero. I make films for Sridevi. She is my hero!"
When Jaya Prada rejected Nagina and Harmesh worked with Sri instead, he was highly impressed by her talent and professionalism that he made her his own hero. He worked with other stars too but he never gave any star the scope he gave Sridevi! He even once said in an interview that Sridevi's flops make more money than other stars hits! That is why having Sridevi as a hero was always a win situation for him. During the launch of Heer Ranjha he said he never lost money when he worked with Sridevi. That itself says a lot.
This legendary love tale has been made many times in the Indian cinema. The version that was released in 1970 starring Raaj Kumar and Priya Rajvansh was a huge success. Harmesh Malhotra remade this version. Sridevi was the perfect choice for playing Heer. However, the hero was a very challenging issue that faced the director. Harmesh Malhotra played it safe and chose Anil Kapoor to play Ranjha as he with Sridevi were considered a successful pair. Unfortunately Anil Kapoor was not the suitable choice here. The funny thing is that Anil himself considers this role to be one of his career's worst performances. But again who would have been suitable to play Ranjha then? We don't think any established actor would have been suitable and a new comer with Sridevi does not give equal balance to the film. So that was one of the biggest problems with the film.
The film music was top notch. Music Directors Laxmikant - Pyarelal composed some of the most melodious songs for this film. Their other hits that year were from Sridevi's other film Khuda Gawah. Songs like Rab ne banaya tujhe and Ranjha Ranjha were instant hits. Another enchanting music in the film is the background score, specially the title credits. It is so beautifully composed and pure delight to listen to. The background music serves the story and the overall theme of the film very well.
It is also worth to be noted that Sridevi's beautiful costumes and wardrobe for this film were entirely designed by herself! She excelled in choosing the right costumes that suited that period. Matching and mixing colors. Sri was always a fashion queen, a true fashionista and that showed in the film. If you watch the film today after 23 years her costumes are as beautiful as they used to be when the movie was released. Heer Ranjha is definitely one of Sridevi's most underrated films and goes as one of her beautiful performances.
Khuda Gawah or God is My Witness was released in 1992. The film was in development since 1988 when Sridevi stopped signing films with Amitabh Bachchan. At the time of signing the film both Amitabh Bachchan and Sridevi were the No.1s in Bollywood. When the film was released they both were the No,1s too, so it was like clash of the titans. The biggest actor with the biggest actress of the country in a film back together! There was even that one poster that was made as India's No.1 actor Amitabh Bachchan with India's No.1 actress Sridevi in a film together!. Their pairing was something very unique. The whole industry was looking forward to it.
Everything about the film was lavish, the costumes, the sets, the story etc... Amitabh Bachchan was always in the film. Sridevi was not though. Her dual characters were to be played by Dimple Kapadia and a newcomer related to Saira Banu. The producers then wanted to bring a star who could draw audiences to the theatre specially after Amitabh's late 80s films did not do well at the box office. Amitabh Bachchan too was very keen to have Sridevi in the film. He jumped to the idea when the filmmakers suggested her name. But the problem was how would they approach Sridevi with one of the roles! which one should they offer her? She cannot be Dimple's daughter in the film. And the queen will not agree to do a role that has less footage and screen presence. The producers then decided to give Sridevi both the roles! That was one way they thought she would agree doing the film, specially after Dimple Kapdia asked for a price they did not want to pay. So they thought we will pay much more but will get a star who can draw audiences to the cinema.
Sridevi was given the script of the film and was told that she will be playing a double role. The Empress told the producers that she will read it and then give her answer. Of course she was the only actress who would ask this. Other actresses at that time would not even ask for the script if it is an Amitabh Bachchan film. Sridevi took sometime to give the answer. Both Amitabh and Mukul Anand were worried that she would reject the role the same way she rejected many Amitabh Bachchan films in the past. One day Amitji was given Sridevi's song from Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja (Dushman Dil Ka Jo Hai Mere) to watch, He was so impressed by her dance in that song. It is known that when Amitabh likes a performance he would send the artist a bouquet of flowers. But what Amitji did to our Last Empress Sridevi was sending her a truck full of flowers!! Magazines came with covers that Amitabh Bachchan is trying to woo Sridevi. Filmfare magazine made a whole cover and story about it (We will post the whole story and pics at some other time). Of course they did not mean romantically but professionally. They said he wanted Sridevi to do the film with him!
When the producers asked Sridevi for her answer the queen said yes provided they stick to the script. And then Sridevi was in Khuda Gawah. Bagging a double role with Amitabh Bachchan. A record that no other actress ever had. And also not to forget her introduction scene, which is again not just the best any actress had with Amitabh Bachchan but can be ranked among the best intro scenes any heroine could get. Khuda Gawah got a very positive response from the critics and audiences. The film was the second highest grossing film at the box office in India in 1992. In the middle east and Arab countries the film was a huge hit. In Afghanistan the film is still hailed as the best bollywood film there and it has been dubbed in their own local languages!
In late 1993 the film was released in the US in a limited way. The response was very huge and then got a wider release in 1994. Late Gavin Smith stated that "God is My Witness is one of the ten best films of 1994" he meant internationally including both Hollywood and Bollywood. While Stephen Holden from New York Times said"Movies rarely offer more rip-roaring action per minute than does God is My Witness". Hopefully we will post their reviews in the review section and we will also talk more about Khuda Gawah some other time with more details. The below is the poster of the film that was released in the US.