Mom said, “Neeril kumizhi pol tonrinai. Kumizhi udaindadu pol udaindaye. Aiyaho! Yen manam kadarugirade. Gavanikkamal aagayatile parandu vittaye. Chandiranudan kalardu vittaya, nee? Aagayattil Munrampirai partal, nee dane ninaivil iruppai. Amma, enru chonnaye. Marandu vittaya, nee? En manam amaidi kollamal tavikkirade. En chaiven? Unnal verumai aakapatta idattai, meendum Sridevi aagave vandu niruppavaya?”
Meaning – You came like the air bubble in water. You broke like the air bubble. Alas! My heart wails. You ignored it and flew off in the sky. Have you disappeared into the moon? When I will see the crescent moon, I will remember you. You called me Mom. Did you forget? My heart cannot be consoled. What will I do? Will you fill the vacant place left by you again as Sridevi?”
On February 25th, Sridevi’s death news was the first thing that Mom saw on TV. She immediately wailed. I was shaken awake and got worried about Mom. When I realized what had happened, I went into shock. Sri Didi is not just my favorite female actor but she has also bonded to our family as my sister. No, I have never met her. But, Mom and my sister did. That was on the sets of Kaun Sachcha Kaun Jhoota (1997).
My Mom was already a freelance journalist and was helping my sister learn the trade. My sister had gone to interview Sri Didi. The person, who was helping them get the interview, had told both of them to be seated at a particular place. But, Sridevi kept looking at my Mom and sister. Mom and sister were speaking to each other in Kannada. Thus, Sri Didi realized that they were South Indians. Sri Didi’s Mom was a Telugu Brahmin. When Mom and sis refused to have any beverages, Sri Didi sent fantastic cups of coffee for them.
In the nearby sets of another movie or TV serial, a small 8-9 months old child had been brought. The baby was crying very badly and disturbing everybody. Mom went to the infant and asked, “Did an ant pinch you? Why are you crying? Look it is running. We will hit it.”
The infant began to smile with the tears running down its cheeks. After Mom consoled it, the mother took away the smiling child. Everybody, including Sridevi, was watching Mom. At that moment, Mohnish Bahl (Sridevi’s costar in the movie and late Nutan’s son) came into the shooting area. Mom and sis went to meet him. My sister introduced herself and Mom. Mom told him, “I am your mother Nutan’s greatest fan.” And began enumerating the list of movies Nutan had acted in. Mohnish Bahl was so happy that he came closer to Mom and stood there listening to her. Mohnish Bahl was called for the shot. So, Mom said that both her daughters would contact him for an interview, each.
Right then, Sridevi beckoned to my sister through the person, who had helped Mom and sis to visit this studio. Mom and sis went to her. My sis introduced herself and Mom. Sis gave her hand to her. When Mom’s turn came, Mom was about to do a Namaste. But, Sri Didi caught hold of her hand and shook it. She kept holding her hand. My sister told her that we are 2 daughters for Mom and both of us are journalists. Sri Didi said to my Mom, “You have not 2 but 3 daughters. I am the first one.”
Mom asked, “Can we forget the Munram Pirai girl, ever?” She became very happy and her hold on Mom’s hand tightened. Munram Pirai (1982) is the Tamil original of the Hindi Sadma (1983). She was happier since Mom spoke to her in Tamil.
A couple came to meet Sridevi. The girl extended her hand for a shake and Sridevi gave hers. But, when the man wanted to shake her hand, she did a Namaste only. Mom loved that gesture. The girl asked her, “You are so beautiful. Why don’t you participate in beauty contests?”
She replied, “I have joined this acting field out of my own preference. I am doing whatever is required for the same. I am not interested in displaying my beauty in those contests.”
The reply impressed my Mom further. Then, she continued to talk to my sister, still holding my mom’s hand. She was also called for the shot and it was decided that my sister would interview her later. Mom and sister took leave of the great legend, never to see her again!