will never get over the huge loss of a friend in his life and Bollywood's
iconic actress, late Sridevi, who passed away on February 24 in Dubai.
Sridevi And Manish Malhotra
The ace designer, while remembering his dear friend, has penned a long emotional letter about the diva, describing how they met for the first time and how their friendship grew stronger over years.
Here's his letter:
“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.
Boney Kapoor With Sridevi And Daughters Janhvi And Khushi
I saw her next when she asked to meet me at the Centaur Hotel—she wanted me to design a sweater for her role in Khuda Gawah (1992) and style a song in Aadmi Aur Apsara (1991). Before I knew it, I, all of 23, was on a flight to Chennai carrying two black and gold jackets, for her and Chiranjeevi Sir.
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.
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.
Sridevi With Manish Malhotra
I always called her ma’am. Over the years, I learnt much from her, whether a simple sartorial trick—she taught me that sleeves sans lining were more flattering on screen—or giving a task your unwavering focus. This quality of not believing in half measures extended to her personal life too, and that’s something I have tried to imbibe and emulate. As a wife, friend and mother to two lovely girls, she always gave her 200 per cent. She was, and I think will forever be, Boney ji, Janhvi and Khushi’s best friend.
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.
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.
Manish Malhotra With Sridevi
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.”
Image Source: instagram/manishmalhotra & instagram/sridevi