Late actor Sridevi was an enigma on screen. She was known as the woman who transformed in front of the camera and those who knew her in real life would often describe her as a person who was sheltered, secure about her craft and a woman of few words. Sridevi’s love story with producer Boney Kapoor was a meeting of two cultures and while their union left many eyebrows raised, as Boney was a married man with kids – Arjun Kapoor and Anshula Kapoor, Boney could not help but pursue the love he felt towards her.
At the India Today Woman Summit in 2013, Boney recalled that he was in awe of her on-screen power when he first saw her in the late 1970s in a Tamil film but they did not get a chance to meet in-person until he met her for Mr India. The Shekhar Kapur film starred Sridevi with Anil Kapoor and Amrish Puri and was produced by Boney. Boney described their first meeting as a “dream come true.”
“When I met her it was almost like dream come true,” he said. “The few words that she spoke in broken Hindi and broken English, they touched me, they moved me and I got curious to know her more,” he recalled. The 1987 film was a big project in those days and it eventually turned out to be a big milestone for Sridevi herself. She was already the highest paid female actor of the time, and Mr India cemented her position even more.
Boney recalled at the summit that Sridevi was getting paid around Rs 8-8.5 lakh per film at the time and when he went to talk about the fee to her mother, she quoted Rs 10 lakh. To show his willingness to work with Sridevi, Boney said, “I’ll pay Rs 11 lakh.”
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The journey of making Mr India was the onset of their love story and Boney made sure that she had everything she needed, wanted and desired. “When the shooting first started, I saw to it that she was the most comfortable on sets, she got all that she wanted, even more. I was always ready with everything that she thought of, everything that she desired on the sets, and made sure that she had the best makeup room, best costumes.”
He recalled, “I used to give her choices, if you don’t like this, wear this, if you don’t like this wear this. So this continued for a while and with every meeting, with every shooting schedule, I started getting more and more affected by her.” Boney shared that he was married to Mona Kapoor at the time but he had confessed to her that he was in love with Sridevi. “I was married then. I, in fact, had confessed it to my ex-wife that I am in love with her,” he said.
Boney shared that to show he “could not hold myself back” and with every opportunity he got, he just wanted to show Sri that there was someone who was there by her side. “I wanted to get this into her system that I was there for her and absolutely concerned about every bit of thing that she desired or asked for,” he said.
He recalled that he followed her to Switzerland while she was shooting for Yash Chopra’s Chandni. “Somewhere she saw that this man was persistent and she perhaps realised that I was sincere, not looking for a fling. And somehow things fell in place and what really made a difference was the kind of care and concern I showed towards her family,” he said.
Boney had also shared that while he was totally smitten with her, their love story “initially remained one-sided.” He told Filmfare in an interview that when he confessed his love for her, she “got rattled, angry and hurt” and did not speak to him for six-eight months. Soon after, the 1993 serial bomb blasts in Mumbai shocked the city and Boney said that Sridevi, who was residing in a hotel in the city, was requested to come live with him. “When I came to know about the blasts, I immediately called up her mother and insisted that Sri would no longer be staying there. I sent my staff to get her home,” he recalled.
Sridevi’s mother fell seriously ill in 1995 and Boney was her rock at this time. He recalled that this was the time when “Sri had begun drawing towards me.”
Boney revealed that he and Sridevi got married in June 1996, but it became public in January 1997 and they had to face a lot of trolls. “We went through our own turmoil as we had our individual situations to face, she had her family and I had mine . But we had each other for comfort. We supported each other and dealt with it with a sense of calm. Sri conducted herself with dignity,” he said.
Sridevi and Boney had a successful marriage that lasted for over two decades, until Sridevi’s passing in February 2018.