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‘Sridevi said she is not planning to work anymore, I had a lump in my throat’: Manish Malhotra remembers the icon

On Sridevi 60th birth anniversary, one of the actor's closest associates and friends, celebrity designer Manish Malhotra got candid about how his professional connection with the veteran actor turned into a lifelong bond.

manish malhotra with srideviManish Malhotra's association with Sridevi goes back to early 1990s. (Photo: Instagram/manishmalhotra05)

“There was a simplicity to her which I found so beautiful and wonderful, “celebrity designer Manish Malhotra says, looking back at his close camaraderie with late actor Sridevi. Fans across the globe celebrated Sridevi’s 60th birth anniversary, while also remembering her body of work and life. The actor passed away in 2018.

Malhotra has more to reminisce. The fashion guru had an association with Sridevi that went back 25 years. He first met her when the star was shooting for Pathar Ke Insan (1990). Soon enough, he landed his first proper project, designing the look for Sridevi in Gumrah (1993).

Speaking to, Malhotra started off by calling himself a huge fan of Sridevi. “The first time Rakesh Shrestha took me to meet her, she was shooting for Pathar Ke Insan in Mehboob Studio. I had just got into movies so I was very excited about meeting Sridevi. I’m speaking about the year 1990. He introduced me as a young guy who’s a designer, and said let’s do a photo shoot. I went back with certain references, even gave some. She told me to do a continuity sweater for Khuda Gawah (1992).”

Malhotra was called by Sridevi to Chennai to design for Chiranjeevi too. “That’s the first time I met Chiranjeevi sir. Then, I didn’t hear from her for a year and a half. I wondered if she liked my work.”

sridevi with manish malhotra Manish Malhotra has time and again spoken about his fondness for Sridevi. (Photo: Instagram/manishmalhotra05)

Malhotra, who was trying to make his way into Bollywood back then, received a call from producer Yash Johar from Sridevi’s reference. They called the young designer for a photo session. This was for Sridevi’s critically acclaimed film Gumrah. “They asked for two very rockstar kind of garments which Sridevi wanted me to make. I send them to Madras. But I got no reaction. I kept wondering if I’ll ever get a chance to meet this phenomenal actor again.”

But to Malhotra’s happiness, Sridevi called him one fine day and told him she wanted him to do Gumrah for her. “I was really excited. I said it’s going to be an important film, so why don’t we work on the look. I said let’s keep the hair short and she liked the idea. That is how our bond started.”

According to Malhotra, till then Sridevi wore a lot of feathers and jewellery, but “what I brought to her was a breath of fresh air, youthfulness.” The designer said he was dressing up Sridevi younger, which he believes she enjoyed.”


Manish Malhotra and Sridevi also collaborated on films like Judaai and Laadla. And then, Sridevi decided to leave it all and bring up her daughters. Walking down the memory lane, he shared, “It was the last day of Judaai’s shooting in Las Vegas. I still remember we were coming down the elevator. She told me I’m not planning to work anymore. I had a lump in my throat. And I kept thinking why do I feel like this. It means somewhere I’ve got really attached to her. I think I got attached to her professionalism, to the way she gave respect. She never spoke about anybody. I think I got along with that very well. She was focused, hard working. We never gossiped about anybody. It was always about the work.”


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A post shared by Manish Malhotra (@manishmalhotra05)

Malhotra kept in touch with Sridevi even after she quit movies. In fact the iconic actor walked the ramp for him several times and attended his shows. “I remember going to see when Janhvi was born. I remember seeing Khushi in the hospital. She would call me here and there. For 15 years, she didn’t really do any work, but I was in touch with her.”

Sridevi’s untimely demise in February 2018 shook the entire Bollywood. Today, Malhotra claims to hold a special bond with Sridevi’s daughters Janhvi Kapoor and Khushi Kapoor too. He even designs clothes for them and is seen at family get-togethers.

“They are today’s girls. They think differently, they have so much love from their parents. They have so many qualities that Sridevi ma’am had. I’m sure they miss her each and every day because she was such a loving and doting mother and also a friend to them. What happened is really sad. They are coping up well. They understand about being professional, working hard, staying focused is life,” Malhotra told us.

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Calling the two “quiet and observant”, Malhotra added, “They are like sponges, they take in the information. The bond that I shared with Sridevi ji, continues with her daughters, and I think is to stay forever.”

(This copy first appeared in 2021).

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First published on: 14-08-2021 at 08:08 IST
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