Some artists are such masters at their craft and leave such a lasting impression that they become part of our lives. Through their work (songs/films) they comfort us when we feel down and out. Sometimes when you feel all alone and nobody is there anymore to be with you in difficult times, these artists, through their work, comfort you and give you hope. They see you through difficult times and you come to see them as “your own”. They become like friends. And one of such artists passes away it seems like we have lost one of our best friends, one of our own.
Sridevi was such an actress for me. February 24th 2018 was the day “The Devi” passed away just aged 54 years old leaving avoid in our lives but leaving behind a great legacy -her films. Today I will write about one of my 2 most favourite Sridevi films (the other being “Lamhe”) – Mr. India.
Boney Kapoor (left) was a producer (son of producer Surinder Kapoor) who had produced the film “Hum Paanch” (1980 – Mithun Chakrevotry, Sanjeev Kumar, Shabana Azmi, Deepti Naval, Raj Babbar, Nasseerudin Shah, Gulshan Grover and Amrish Puri) which was a moderate hit. He followed that up with “Woh 7 Din” (1983- Anil Kapoor, Nasseerudin Shah and Padmini Kolhapure) which was a surprise hit and gave little brother Anil Kapoor his first hit as a lead. So when the “Mr. India” project came to him after Amitabh Bachchan could not do the movie, he signed little brother Anil Kapoor for the title role and the nr. 1 actress of that time – Sridevi- for the role of Seema. The film would be directed by Shekhar Kapur.
Shekar Kapur (right) was a unsuccessful actor who became a director who made the succesful film “Masoom” (1983 – Nasseerudin Shah, Shabana Azmi, Jugal Hansraj, Urmila Matondkar). Today Shekhar Kapur is a director from India who has also won an Oscar. But in India he just made 2 films. There were a lot of movies Shekhar Kapur was making but he left all of them incomplete when he left for Hollywood. Films like “Joshilaay” (1989- Sridevi, Anil Kapoor, Sunny Deol and Meenakshi Shehshadri), “Barsaat” (1995- Bobby Deol, Twinkle Khanna), the unreleased and incomplete “Time Machine” (based on “Back To The Future” with Aamir Khan, Raveena Tandon, Nasseerudin Shah, Rekha and Vijay Anand) and “Dushmani” (1995- Sunny Deol, Jackie Schroff, Manisha Koirala). But today he is remembered for one of the most modern day classics from The Hindi Film Industry- “Mr. India”.
The idea for “Mr. India” was actually for an Amitabh Bachchan film. But for some reasons Amitabh was not able to do the role. I must confess, though I am an Amitabh Bachchan bhakt, Anil Kapoor did a damn good job in the movie and I can not see any other actor (from that generation or this one) doing the role except for Anil Kapoor. Though I do wonder if Aby would have done the role how it would have been.
One of the many, many highlights of “Mr. India” are the many kids in the movie. Some of them would go on to (try to) make a career in the Hindi Film Industry (I hate the word “Bollywood”) such as Karan Nath (son of Anil Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit, Shilpa Shirodkar and Ranjeeta Kaur’s manager Rakesh Nath), Ahmed Khan (the kid that dances well in the movie would go on to become a choreographer and director himself), Aftab Shivdesani (who would go on to try to make it as a leading man) and the girl who stole our hearts as Tina- Huzaan Khodaji. I really feel bad that she did not make any more movies!
The film has a bunch of actors in supporting roles who we already knew or who would go on to make a name for themselves later on in their careers. The villains in the movie were straight out of a comic and each and every member from the supporting cast did well in their roles. My favourite from the supporting cast are Ashok Kumar (for obvious reasons) and Sharat Saxena and Bob Christo for their portrayal.
“Mr. India” is the last movie which’s script is credited as “written by Salim-Javed” – the best screenplaywriters ever in Hindi Cinema. When they separated the script had not been written yet. The idea of the movie was just what they had. The actual script of the movie was written by Javed Akhtar. Satish Kaushik (who also plays “Calender” in the movie) was an assistant director on the movie as well. An assistant to Shekhar Kapur. Satish would go on to direct several other movies and would do many comedy roles in movies (most notably those comedy roles with Govinda).
Anil Kapoor did a great job as “Arun bhaiya” and “Mr. India”. Though when the movie was released and declared a super blockbuster he was ridiculed as he was invisible for half of the film and the success was credited to Sridevi. Some people even said the film should have been titles “Miss India” as Sridevi made the film the succes it became. Here i must say that what Anil Kapoor did here takes guts. You know you will be invisible for half the movie and you know Sridevi her role will be talked about and still he gave a sincere performance. Hats off Mr. Kapoor.
“Mogambo Khush Huwa”- who can forget Amrish Puri in the role of Mogambo! After Gabbar Singh in Sholay I think the best villain ever in Hindi Cinema (and once again credited to Salim-Javed!).
Legend has it that the role of Mogambo was originally to be done by Anupam Kher (who I think is a bit overrated as an actor). Thank God the role went to Amrish Puri because let’s be honest: Is there anyone who can imagine any other actor then Amrish Puri in this role? Hell NO!!
The music of “Mr. India” was by Laxmikant-Pyarelal who gave an outstanding soundtrack for this movie. Kishore Kumar sang the songs for Anil Kapoor and Alisha Chinoi and Kavita Krishnamurthy were the voice of Sridevi. Kavit Krishnamurthy would go on to become the screenvoice for Sridevi in many films after this movie including “Chaalbaaz” (1989- Sridevi, Rajnikanth and Sunny Deol). Funny story about how this actually happened. The song “Hawa Hawaii” was supposed to be sung by Asha Bhonsle. But when the song was to be recorded she was out of town. So the song was recorded in the voice of Kavita Krishnamurthy with the intention of dubbing her lines by Asha Bhonsle when she would return. But Kavita Krishnamurthy sang the song sooo good that the producer and music directors released this version because even Asha Bhonsle would not be able to better her version. And so her song was retained on the soundtrack and it was this song that became the breakthrough for Kavita Krishnamurty! ps. This song would be recreated and picturised on all of Vidya Balan and once again I was livid – another classic f@#^$% up! Nobody can better Sridevi and Kavita Krishnamurthy so why even try? I just don;t get it!
A thing that left me baffled was that the sad version of the Kishore Kumar song “Zindagi Ki Yehi Reet Hai” was sung By Mohd. Aziz. I just could not understand why when the master himself was still alive…
Better judgment prevailed when I saw the movie because the sad version was also sung by Kishore Kumar (which was not on the first released cassette but was on the released lp of the movie) and that version sung by Kishore Kumar was used in the final print of the movie.
After her song in Jaanbaaz (1986- Sridevi in a special appearance, Feroz Khan, Anil Kapoor, Dimple Kapadia, Rekha and Mukesh Khanna) “Har Kisiko Nahin Milta” “Mr. India” had another song that would become a benchmark in “classy seduction songs” this one sung by Kishore Kumar and Alisha Chinoi.
The are movies you like when you see them but when you see them after a couple of years it’s a different movie because the film doesn’t age well. It does not hold up. “Mr. India” is not one of those. This film still holds up and can be watched by every generation over and over again!
To pay my humble tribute to Sridevi I dedicated my radioshow “YAADEIN- A walk Through Memory Lane” (which is broadcast on SunriseFM every Sunday 10PM Netherlands, 6PM Surinam, and every Mondaymorning 2.30AM IST) of Sunday 4th March to my all time favourite actress.
For those who are interested in the show (which was in Hindi) here is the link to the show. If you listen feel free to leave all your feedback and remarks in the comments section:
I aslo made a list of my Top 10 SRIDEVI films on IMDB. Here is the link to that list.
Don’t forget to join our facebook group “GEET SANGEET”.
You will be missed Sridevi. Thank you for all the movies and the great memories associated with these movies.
When Jhanvi’s movie “Dhadak” will be released I will watch it first day, first show pure out of love and respect for Sridevi!