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Dear Sridevi, Thank You for Always Being There”: LGBT Activist Harish Iyer

“Whenever we are challenged with anything in life, cinema serves as an escape mechanism.”

My first memory of Sridevi is from ‘Chaal Baaz’. A trapped girl who found her escape in dancing – that version of Sridevi appealed to me. I remember watching that movie on a VHS tape at home, at least a dozen times, if not more.

In today’s day and age, we know everything there is to know about the stars we covet. Where they workout, the places they like to hang out at, and even intimate details of their personal life.

Sridevi was different. There is no mention of her personal life in the public domain; she chose to be an enigma, and that is perhaps what added to her star value.

In this article, we speak to Harish Iyer, noted LGBT community member, who will remain a fan of Sridevi’s for life.

“Whenever we are challenged with anything in life, cinema serves as an escape mechanism. For me, it was so important to build this alternate reality around me, especially at a time when I was getting raped and coming home. For me, to forget all that and believe in a world where anything was possible was very important, and Sridevi made me believe in that,” he says.

“Sridevi’s movies were all about that possibility.”

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“Whether it was Moondram Pirai, or even Sadma, which was about her forgetting her childhood. I could relate to that because I was also trying to forget something and yet not remember something.”

“I was never a mad fan of hers. My walls were never filled with her posters. I never wrote any poems to her or about her. My love for her is not something I want displayed,” he says.

He speaks about how just like he would never take to social media to proclaim his love for his mother; he wouldn’t do it for Sridevi as well. His relationship with her is far too personal for that.

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Harish speaks about the movies that he fondly remembers, “Gurudev, which was Vinod Mehra’s last movie, had Sridevi playing a double role and also starred Rishi Kapoor and Anil Kapoor. One particular scene in which she tries to sneak alcohol into a hospital for me was so poignant as it taught me to keep my mischievous side alive. ‘Mood banana ke vaste’ – as she says.”

“Lamhe was another movie that I will always remember.”

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“The scene where the two ladies vying for Anil Kapoor’s attention meet and speak is special. While the lady who was to marry Anil Kapoor says she has known him for seven long years, Sridevi pauses and tells her that she has known him since she was all of seven. It was just the manner in which she said that it has stayed with me,” he says.

Sridevi was all about the moments she used to add to a scene. She was someone who lived in those moments without losing the momentum.

“However she has also done some terrible movies, and I cannot say otherwise even though I am such a huge fan. Army, Sherni, and Chand ka Thukda were such poor choices.”

Speaking about the time he got to meet her during the shooting of Satyameva Jayate, he says, “My first reaction on seeing her was to ask if I could touch her. It was such a surreal experience to meet her. I had never even dreamt of it; this was beyond my dream.”

Imagine someone you have spent a lifetime idolising coming and telling you that you are her hero. It was just something else, Harish recounts.

“I was sitting next to Sridevi and was weeping. She held my hand, and in my Palakkad Tamil accent, she told me that I must be strong. She said if I needed anything I must call her.”

“I never met her after that; I didn’t want to stand in a crowd and meet her. In my head, I was a princess, and in that one meeting I had reached another level,” he says.

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